Monkey Business!

I was in the mood for philosophizing, so I went to my favorite gastro-pub. I walked through the entryway with it’s green tiles and stained glass interior doors, then through to the long bar with it’s padded green wooden stools. I sat at the end of the bar, ordered a cold stein of beer and contemplated the oil painting behind the bar of Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love.

Then I noticed the cage on the shelf behind the bar in front of the long mirror. There was a small monkey in the cage!

Just then, a gentleman with grey hair and beard slid onto the stool next to me. He ordered a beer and sat staring straight ahead.

“Beautiful, isn’t she?” I said, pointing to the Aphrodite painting.

“I wasn’t looking at that, I was wondering what that monkey is doing here.”

I smiled. The bartender said:

“This monkey is very smart, it even has a favorite President.”

“ Who’s that?”

“Hairy Truman!”

Oh, this bartender was a gem, I thought. Too bad he left to serve some customers.

I turned back to my stool buddy and said:

“Maybe the innkeeper is trying to remind us where we all come from.”

“Oh, you mean evolution and all that.”

“Yes, that’s right. I was just reading the other day about the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” that occurred in 1925.”

“What was that all about?” He asked, watching the monkey squirm in its cage.

“Well, Scopes was a school teacher who was on trial for teaching evolution when that was unlawful in Tennessee at the time, because evolution was against the teachings of the Bible.”

“I think it’s sort of a put down to say we come from a lower order of animals. I mean we’re different from apes!”

“Are we?”

“My brother-in-law looks and acts like a chimpanzee!”

Oh! The bartender was back!

We both laughed, as we ordered two more beers.

“So, how are we different from other animals?’

“Well, us humans have evolved much farther. The animal kingdom is still living like they always have, but us humans have created a different environment for ourselves than the one we started out in.”

My bar stool buddy looked pensive.

“I’ve never really thought about that. But you’re right, we build cities, create art and music, design all kinds of things, we’ve created an environment unlike anything else in nature.”

“Another great difference between us and other animals is our capacity for self-awareness. Other animals don’t evaluate themselves. If they look in a mirror, they think they’re seeing another animal! The exception being the great apes, they recognize their reflection.”

“Well, that monkey in the cage is looking at itself in the mirror and combing its beard.”

Just then, I noticed my bar stool buddy was combing his beard also in the mirror.

The bartender came over, laughing, and said:

“Monkey See, Monkey Do!”

Snip! Snip!

I was driving back to Chicago from southern rural Illinois. I decided to stop for the night in a small town. I can’t even remember the name of it. I stopped at a motel and checked in. Then I went to the diner next door.

It was called “The Turkey’s Delight Diner”, I think because there was a turkey farm nearby. It had red flocked walls and dim lighting, about 20 stools and 10 booths, a nice place.

I grabbed a menu and noticed, Turkey fries on it as an appetizer. I asked the pretty waitress if she could tell me what Turkey fries were.

She smiled and said:

“Well, sir, they’re kind of hard to explain. You get a whole bowl of them and you dip them in a sauce.”

“Are they part of a turkey?”

“Oh, yes sir, they are part of a turkey.”

The man two stools down drawled:

“I’ll tell him, darlin’. Mister, they’re turkey balls.”

“You mean they are the testicles of a turkey?’

“That’s right, bub, you got it in one.”

The waitress laughed and said:

“That’s what they are. We sell a lot of them. You want to order a bowl?”

“I think I’ll have the spaghetti bol, instead.”

The man two stools down, wearing a string tie, a Stetson and full cowboy gear, leaned over and said:

“You ought to try some, they’re very good.”

“I’m sure they are. But the doctor told me to avoid fried foods.”

“Oh, is that right?”

“Very unusual dish, though, tell me, how do they obtain the delicacy?”

“I guess, you just catch a turkey and, snip, snip.”

“To serve them by the bowl, you would need many turkeys and a lot of snipping.”

“That’s right.”

I began to wonder about the people that have this snipping job. A young man’s girlfriend would ask what he does for a living and when he told her he’s a turkey ball sniper, that might scare her off!

As I paid my bill, the man with the string tie asked:

“Where do you come from?”


“You don’t serve Turkey fries up there?”

“No, just French fries. And fortunately, for the Frenchmen, it’s not quite the same thing!”


“My barstool friend came in all agitated and said:

“I had a horrifying dream last night that I turned into a beetle!”

“Bartender, give my buddy a drink, he needs it.”

“Thanks, I’ll have a beer.”

With our beers in front of us, I said:

“Now, how did this dream come about?”

He took a big gulp of his beer, and continued:

“Well, I’m taking this night adult class in literature and we had to read Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.”

“Oh well, that explains it.”

“Not really, because I don’t understand the story at all.”

“Well, if I remember my literature 101, it’s an allegory, a story with a hidden meaning.”

“What’s the hidden meaning?’ He finished his beer and ordered another for both of us.

“Well, it’s the way you interpret it. It’s about the human condition.”

I looked at the two beers in front of me and drank half of one in two gulps.

“What’s the human condition?”

I thought this guy needs to take a lot of night courses.

“It’s all the crap we humans face in the world to survive.”

“Yeah, I have to face my wife’s nagging about how I don’t make enough money.”

“It’s also about “transformation.”

“Oh, you mean like the guy in the story was transformed into a bug.”

“We all need to transform ourselves positively through our lives to grow. But some people transform themselves negatively to escape situations.”

“Oh, I want to escape, that’s for sure.”

I wondered if I was getting through to him.

“The main character in the story felt the hopelessness of his life, working for survival and supporting his family. He felt that was the only thing he existed for.”

“Yeah, my wife takes me for granted. I’m just a meal ticket to her. She treats me like a dog.”

“That’s a part of the story too, the animalistic tendencies of humans, that we are basically animals.”

“ I wonder sometimes why I’m working like a dog. Is that just the way it is in life?”

“In the story the fellow became a bug and he escaped his treadmill life. Consequently his family became more animalistic towards him, they don’t take care of him and they look on him as a liability. He’s a bug now and they stop thinking about him as a human being and they stop treating him like one also.”

“Boy, that’s a real horror story.”

I smiled and downed my last beer and went to the toilet. When I came back to my stool my buddy was gone!

“Hey, bartender, where did my drinking pal go, his beer is still sitting on the bar?”

“I don’t know, he was here a minute ago.”

I got up to look around the room. Then I heard it, a cracking sound under my shoe. I looked down, I had just stepped on a bug!

I drank the rest of his beer and left the tavern.


Dave’s Corner

A new gastro-pub opened up in my neighborhood the other week, so I thought I’d check it out. It was fairly unassuming on the outside, but when I stepped through the doors made of wood and glass, it was another world, an escape from the world’s hub-bub.

The entryway had green stone tiles with stained glass on the interior doors. Walk through the doors and a long wooden bar ran for fifty feet along the wall, with padded green wooden barstools. A long mirror was behind the bar and above the mirror were classical oil paintings. Green Carpet ran through the whole place. Opposite the bar were tables and booths. Oil paintings of Greek gods adorned the wall behind the booths, with low lighting throughout.

I sat down at one end of the long bar, the stools were very comfortable for my kiester. I ordered a margarita and thought this would be a great place to meet people and philosophize, you know, talk about the serious issues of life. I could call it, Dave’s Corner.

Just then a well dressed fella slid onto the stool next to me. I noticed his expensive watch immediately.

“Nice watch you have.”

“Oh, thanks, it’s a gift from my wife.”

“Beautiful, but please tell me what can it do?”

“Do? It tells time, what do you think?”

“For all those bucks, it just tells time?”

I pulled up my sleeve and showed him my watch.

“This does everything, all I do is press buttons. It’s a calculator, alarm clock, stopwatch, it tells me the day, month, and year. It also keeps all my phone numbers in its data base. I merely press a button and all the names and numbers scroll across the watch face.”

My stool mate looked at the watch in amazement.

“This watch only cost me $35.95 plus tax. Yours probably costs $1000.”

My friend nodded.

“This watch conversation usually gets a rise out of people. In fact, I have an acquaintance with a $10,000 watch, that no longer speaks to me.”

“Why is that?”

“Because people like you feel foolish. You spend a lot of money to get information that is hanging on the walls of most homes and offices-the time of day.”

He got up, shaking his head, and walked out of the tavern. I ordered another margarita.

Then another chap, who I hadn’t seen for a long time, sat down next to me. I noticed he was wearing one of those wafer-thin watches.

“Must have cost plenty?” I said, pointing at his watch.

“Yes, quite a bit.”

I started telling him about my bargain watch and he started laughing.

“I can’t believe you’re wearing a nerd watch.”

“What do you mean, this watch does everything.”

“I know all that. That’s why nerds love them.”

“Nerds? What do nerds have to do with it?”

“You know, the computer nuts, the calculator freaks, the number crunchers. I’ve got a young guy in my office who has a watch just like yours. He’s a classic nerd. Keeps four pens, a tiny flashlight, and a peanut butter sandwich in his pocket.”

“My watch has a three-year battery, you know?” I mumbled.

He laughed uncontrollably.

“Who would have thought it? You a nerd. Tell me, whatever possessed you to purchase a watch like that?”

“It was a gift from my wife.”

Sterile Words

I was back on my barstool contemplating my reflection in the mirror behind the bar, when I noticed the guy next to me staring into his beer and sighing deeply.

“What’s wrong with you?” I asked boldly.

He turned his head to look at me and said:

“I just ended or we just ended…” Then his voice cracked.

“Ended what?”

“We ended a relationship.”

“A relationship?”

“Yeah. She broke off our relationship.”

“I hate the word relationship,” I said.

My stool mate just stared at me.

“It’s a sterile word used by sociologists. It’s impersonal and so digital era.”

“What should I say then?” He queried.

“How about a broken romance or the end of a love affair.”

He nodded his head.

“What kind of love songs would we have with the word “relationship”, it just doesn’t work.”

What songs are you thinking of?”

“How about, “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s a relationship”—see it sounds terrible.”

He looked blankly at me and said:

“Well, okay, we broke off our love affair, and I lost my “significant other.”

“Now, there you go again, using a sterile word to substitute for girlfriend, lover or sweetheart.”

“You’re confusing me,” he said.

“Can you imagine the heart-rendering song:

“Let me call you significant other”. Isn’t that romantic?”

“No, it sounds funny.”

My barstool friend shook his head and left.

I forgot to ask him:

When his Significant Other ended their Relationship, did she at least Osculate him goodbye?


It was lunchtime and I was on my favorite park bench. I was hungry for some juicy “Bench Talk”. My prayers were answered when an old, grey-haired, guy sat down next to me.

“Hello, nice day isn’t it?”

“Not really, I feel danger coming,” said my bench mate.

He kept looking up, searching the sky.

“What are you looking for?” I asked, full of curiosity.

“Shadows in the sky from Russia.”

“Oh, you mean Stealth Bombers,” I smiled.

“Yes, that’s right, have you seen any?”

“No, I haven’t.”

I was taken aback, this guy was serious!

“The Cold War is over,” I said.

“I’m a survivalist and I know it isn’t.”

“Remember, the Berlin Wall came down?”

“That doesn’t make any difference.”

This character was beginning to bug me.

He continued: “Remember when it all started in the 50’s and 60’s? We all started thinking about civil defense planning and how we could survive nuclear war.” His eyes were glistening.

“I remember there was talk of digging fallout shelters and evacuating  cities. Sirens used to go off once a week to remind us about the danger. But I always thought it was a crock of whatchamacallit.”

He looked stunned.

“How can you say that?”

“It was all a propaganda campaign to keep the Industrial-Military Complex making money.”

I don’t think he was listening to me at all.

“When you see the shadows in the sky, you have to “Duck and Cover” to protect yourself from the gamma rays.”

I was getting a little scared, this guy was nuts!

“We have to build more bombs and then the Russians will build more bombs. The more bombs we both have, the safer we will be.”

“That’s crazy talk,” I said.

“We have to be ready to evacuate the cities,” he continued.

“Have you ever been in a rush hour traffic jam? And that’s only a fraction of the people on the move.”

“We must practice evacuation then.”

“Don’t you understand, nothing would move. It would be extreme chaos!”

“We have to plan for survival,” he had a blank look in his eyes.

“You would have 300 million or so people wandering around the country with no food, no shelter, no organization, absolute chaos!”

“You don’t understand,” he mumbled.

“No, it’s you, that doesn’t understand. The government just wants the arms manufacturers to prosper. It’s good for the economy.”

“You’re wrong, I know you’re wrong.”

“It’s a con job, trust me,” I said.

He got up and started walking away, and as he did, he said:

“I can’t believe it’s a “Crock of Whatchamacallit.”

Retreat From Life

A grim faced man, wearing a long trench coat, got out of a black car and slammed the door. He stood looking at the Welsh mountains surrounding the caravan site. It was very quiet. John Johnson thought this was the perfect place to be alone and sort out his life. He was only thirty-five years old, but his life was full of problems. His wife had left him, the final divorce papers had come yesterday. His business was on the brink of failure. His employees were always complaining about something. People cause problems, he thought, and other people’s problems have been closing in on him. He wanted to get away from people. He hoped this remote part of Wales would give him the relief he needed. So he rented a caravan in the woods, a retreat from life.

John entered the site manager’s office to get the keys to the caravan.

“Mr. Johnson, can I ask you a favour? I wonder if you would look in on an old man and his crippled daughter, to see if they’re alright from time to time? They live a short way down the road from your caravan,” asked the manger, giving John the keys.

John’s dark eyes smoldered with anger. He ran his fingers through his black wavy hair.

“I’m sorry, but I won’t have time.”

“But, Mr. Johnson, it wouldn’t take much time. Since you came early to the site, you’re the only one, right now, to look in on them,” said the manager, looking out the window toward the road.

“Look, there’s the daughter now, won’t you reconsider?”

John stared at the forlorn figure shuffling along the road, dragging one leg behind. He turned away.

“Look, I came here to be alone, not to be bothered with other people. You will have the get someone else.”

With that, John turned his back to the manager and walked out of the office, slamming the door. He got up early the next morning after a restless night. His thoughts trailed back to the day before. The nerve of the manager to ask him to do social work around the site. Would he ever be able to get away from other people’s problems?

The birds were singing and the mountains were beckoning. John decided to take a walk in this nature wonderland. A little way down the road, he saw a struggling figure coming toward him. It was the crippled girl carrying some firewood. John’s eyes looked straight ahead, trying to avoid the sad sight.

“Sir, would you be so kind as to help me with this wood? It’s heavy and my cabin is just down the road.” The girl’s dark eyes pleaded with John.

John seemed to be magnetized to the girl, Probably in her mid-twenties. She  was actually pretty if she did something with her straight brown hair. She wore jeans and a plaid shirt which didn’t do a thing for her femininity. The girl smiled at him and he almost smiled back. But he didn’t want to get involved.

“I’m sorry lady, but I’m in a hurry and can’t stop.” His eyes turned away and he hurried on.

John didn’t feel good about avoiding the girl, but he didn’t need her problems. He cut his walk short and took a different route back, which by-passed the girl’s cabin.

For the rest of the week it rained incessantly. The weather didn’t help John’s depression. He had been avoiding the girl and her father’s cabin. He had his own problems to stew about. His life was in a mess, and he hadn’t sorted anything out yet. He felt sick to the depths of his soul.

The night before  John’s last day at the site, it was stormy. The rain was pelting the roof of the caravan like someone beating on a drum. He was engrossed in a book about how to pick up the pieces of your life after divorce.

A banging on the door jolted him out of his self-centered thoughts. Who could it be out on a night like this? He opened the door a crack and peeked out. It was the crippled girl soaked to her skin.

“Please help me, my father is trapped by a fallen tree down by the river. The river is rising fast.”

He could hear himself mumbling something about she should go to the site telephone and call the emergency services.

“But there isn’t time,” she cried, and stumbled away into the storm.

John closed the door quick to block out the scene. He stared at himself in the mirror on the back of the door, and felt guilty. Was he part of the human race or not?

He put on his coat and ran out into the storm after the girl. The rain and wind slashed John’s face, but he made his way to the rampaging river. The water was rising fast. Would he have time to save the old man?

The girl was struggling with a large tree trunk, but she couldn’t budge it. John hurried over to the girl’s side. The old man was almost covered with water, only his head was visible. A broken fishing rod was entangled in the tree branches. The girl was screaming uncontrollably. John waded into the river and grabbed the tree trunk. He tried to move it. But all he accomplished was to cut his hand on a sharp branch. He grabbed the trunk and strained with all his strength. He managed to lift it a few inches. Just enough to release the old man’s leg before the water covered his head. The girl helped her father to safety.

“Thank you, you came just in time,” she cried.

The girl limped over to John and hugged him.

“Thank you son,” said the old man, exhausted by his ordeal.

John felt good. Three happy people smiling in the rain!

When they got back to the cabin, they all dried off in front of the fire. The girl bandaged John’s cut hand. Father and daughter were very grateful to John, and his inner sick feeling disappeared.

Was this the answer to his problems, to get involved with people and get out of himself? He finally realized that people are needed in a person’s life. No more would he retreat from life.

John knew he would sort his life out now and he was determined to return to Wales next year to see the girl and her father. With his new attitude the future looked bright!

Granddad Got Scared!

I had my seven year old grandson with me for the weekend. I was wondering  how I was going to entertain him for three days! We were walking through the town market looking at all the stalls, when we came upon a stall with some old video tapes.

“Wow, look at these old movies, Granddad.”

“You don’t want to watch those,” I warned.

“Why?” The usual question from a kid.

“They are all old horror movies and they will give you bad dreams. They’re scary!”

Little Johnny started reading the titles:

“Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Frankenstein Meets Wolf Man.”

I tried to pull him away from the display.

“Hold on, Granddad, what’s a mummy?”

“ A mummy is a very scary guy who’s wrapped up in bandages.”

“Did you see these movies when you were a boy?”

“Yes John, I saw them all.”

“Were you scared?”

“Yes, very scared, in fact I crawled under the theatre seat and hid.”

“Let’s buy one, they’re cheap, three for five dollars.”

“I told you, they’re very scary. You will be the only kid in your school with gray hair.”

“Come on, please, Granddad.”

“Okay, you’re lucky I still have my video tape player.”

So, I bought three videos, Dracula, Frankenstein, and Frankenstein Meets Wolf Man.

We watched Dracula, the first night. When the vampire leaned towards a sleeping woman’s throat, the scene ended.

“Hey, what happened, Granddad?”

“Dracula bit her on the neck and sucked some of her blood.”

“Why didn’t they show it?”

“I guess it’s too scary.”

Little Johnny looked bored.

The next night we watched, Frankenstein. Little Johnny fell asleep!

The last night we watched, Frankenstein Meets Wolf Man.

“How come there’s no color in these movies, Granddad?”

“Because, it’s scarier in black and white.”

“They didn’t show the good parts, Wolf Man killing the people!”

“It’s too horrifying.”

Johnny yawned and said:

“Too bad Wolf Man died, he was a nice guy.”

I smiled.

“Granddad, you didn’t really crawl under a seat at the movies, did you?”

No, of course not, I was just kidding!”