Monday, February 27, 2006

Monkey business

Monkey and I have been together about 63 years. When I was a toddler I remember being told that he used to have a nose, but that when I was a baby I pulled it off. He never had a name. I always just called him Monkey. Most of the time he just sits on my bureau in the bedroom. He's sat there for many, many years, watching me grow up, get married and divorced a few times. He's seen apartments and he's seen houses. He's seen my son and daughter grow up and move out into the world. A year or so ago I was trying to come up with some ideas to tie my series of self portrait photographs to my past. I spotted Monkey sitting there and decided what better way than to show my childhood companion the world in which I now live! I took Monkey for a ride in my truck and we visited the bank and the post office, went grocery shopping, explored a local park, and visited with my friends. My ex, Claudia, told me that people would think I was nuts walking about town carrying a toy stuffed animal. Most people I guess just figure I'm taking back to my grandchild, and really pay Monkey no mind at all. Women, young and old alike, often ask about him and are amazed that I still have him after all these years. They think it's really nice that I've kept him, that I still have him and treasure him. A few months ago when James and Hideko were in town (when the photo below was taken) she met Monkey and fell in love! She decided that there should be a new T-shirt with a photo of Monkey, or perhaps of Monkey and myself, and she thinks it would be very popular with teenage girls back home in Japan. When they returned to Miami last week Monkey went everyplace with us. James and Hideko each wore a prior edition of the Al Kaplan T-shirt. He sure was a conversation starter! Men don't seem to see him at all, but every female around, from the waitress to some young women at the next booth just had to hear the whole story of this old toy, and thought it was so touching that Monkey and I were still together after all these years. That scenario repeated itself at several restaurants, at a bench in the park, and on the patio at Starbucks. Two Haitian girls have already emailed James with orders for shirts!

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