Jack the Monkey (An Hirsute Tale)

Monkeys always start the day off right, because they never have to shave.

It was not always that way. In antiquity, back in the days when men were cave dwellers, not long removed from jungle’s lofty perch, monkeys shaved their tails every day. Men did not. Shave their tails that is, or anything else. Of course they had no tails to shave, but were so appallingly hairy elsewhere that they were often mistaken for gorillas by monkeys and other higher life forms. Things have changed over the dim passages of time, oh yes. This is the tale of Jack the Monkey, and how he altered the course of history, and the lives of men, forever.

Jack was a fine specimen of a Simian, fit, furry, and fabulous, a real monkey’s monkey. Lesser amongst his tribe regarded Jack with awe, and not because he ate only the best bananas, or flew through the distant tree tops with the greatest of ease, although he was certainly top of the class in that way. No, it was his tail that caused their envious glances. Jack’s tail was magnificent! Like all of his kind, Jack kept his awesome appendage silky smooth and hairless by dipping it every morning in a coconut shell filled with a noisome concoction of bee’s wax and coconut milk mixed with hot tar from the community pit.

All except Doreen, of course. Doreen was their Queen, a doddering old soul. Quite aside from a variety of infirmities rendering her virtually immobile, she deemed it most inappropriate to dip her tail in the common coconut like any garden-variety monkey. No, Doreen had her tail plucked by hand each day, through painful manipulation of savage dung beetles by Gawd, the tribe’s equally ancient, perpetually sad eyed King. Hence the origin of the expression, "Gawd shaved the Queen".

But we digress. Back to the tail of Jack, and its’ many superlative features. Aside from being the longest and strongest in the forest, it was also extraordinarily flexible. Jack could form all the letters of the Simian alphabet, the figure eight, and, in a pinch use it as a lasso in gathering coconuts and bananas. He often entertained the tribe during the annual "Coconut Days" celebrations, with acts of daring-do that left all who witnessed them gasping and howling with laughter and amazement.

On the far edge of the forest, in a cave, lived three very hairy men, with beards down to their knees. Huddled around the water hole one morning, they exchanged witticisms about the state of the universe and the meaning of life.

"Got any beer?" growled one.

"Seen any women?" grunted the second.

"What’s a women?" muttered the third.

In a nearby tree sat Jack, cracking coconuts with his tail. He had never visited that part of the jungle before, and was watching the men with curiosity. "Definitely not gorillas" he thought. "Hairy enough, but way too stupid".

Suddenly catching sight of Jack and his mighty friend, the men were struck dumb, or at least dumber than usual. Lacking flashlights, each was forced to rely upon his hands alone to find his own ass. Eyes welling with tears of frustration, they failed utterly to locate anything remotely matching the monkey’s magnificent rear guard.

"I have an idea" growled the first. "Let’s get a torch from the fire, and have a closer look."

"Good idea" grunted the second.

"What’s an idea?" muttered the third.

As Jack watched in astonishment, the men gathered in a small circle, one behind the other, each with a blazing branch from the fire, and proceeded to have a closer look. A much closer look than was wise.

"See anything?" growled the first.

"Yeah, ever heard of Cottonelle?" grunted the second.

Overcome by a massive attack of flatulence, the third managed to say nothing before the small circle erupted into a burning ring of fire.

"Time for that bath" muttered the third as they staggered, howling, into the water hole.

Jack sat, deep in thought, coconuts quite forgotten.

The men slowly emerged, crisped but not cooked, sautéed but not deep-fried, toasted but not roasted, shaked but not….well, you get the idea. The original hairy-kiri artists. No longer hirsute, unless birthday suits count. No beards. No hair anywhere, as a matter of fact. Staring dully at the others, the first growled:

"Think I found it".

"Yeah, what’s it doin’ up front here? Way too small too" grunted the second.

" Let’s try Gillette next time" muttered the third.

Jack hurried back to the tribe. Gathering the eldest and wisest monkeys around him, he told them of his experience. After much debate, they decided that to continue the practice of tail shaving risked the possibility that monkeys would become as dumb as a brick. The vision of beer-swilling monkeys swinging ablaze through the trees settled it. Forever after, monkeys were quite content to let nature take its’ course. Except for Doreen and Gawd, who had no idea what other possible use could be found for their dung beetle collection.

And men?

Thousands of years later, men still awaken each day, to stand befuddled in front of a mirror, scraping a lethal steel weapon across the stubble with one hand, while the other inevitably goes in scratching search of Jack’s tail.

Keep ‘em away from the matches. Safer to let the monkeys have them.


copyright r.b.franklin 18/07/04

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