MONKEY BUSINESS

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Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. I say William was turning two years old. The General says he was turning three. This time I’m sure I’m right. At any rate, we had flown into Reno to connect with Craig, Becky, Jenna and William. Jake wasn’t even on the drawing board yet. The four of them and the two of us were headed to San Francisco for a long weekend. However, we weren’t leaving until the next morning.   In addition, we were celebrating William’s birthday.

Consequently, we met up at a hotel in Reno. When we arrived, Becky had gone to get something and left the two kids with their dad. At the outside chance, based at what I’ve shared, you are connecting the dots in your head. You are wrong. Her absence was legitimate. Trust me, she wasn’t in the casino pulling  the handle of a one armed bandit. She was a mom who lived in base housing at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Northern California. In other words, their family lived an hour away from civilization and Becky had opted to go shopping and left the kids with Craig.

Just as we were arriving and getting checked in, I noticed that one of Treva’s eyes was totally red. It hurt me to look at her. It looked serious to me. Consequently, I asked Craig (coaxed would have been too strong a word) to please drive his mother to an emergency clinic to ascertain what was going on with her eye. The white had been replaced by red. Obviously, the General was concerned as well. Otherwise, she would have never opted to follow my recommendation.

At the outside chance you’re thinking I punched the General in the eye, you’re wrong. First of all, I’ve never used physical force to negotiate conflict or anything else. Secondly, men who rely on violence to handle domestic disputes don’t merit respect in my books. “My mama raised me better than that”. That is never acceptable.

Seriously, I was concerned about Treva’s eye. Could it have been the cigarette smoke? When we checked into the hotel and walked past the entrance to the casino to access the elevator, the hallway was filled with cigarette smoke and people were playing slot machines. I also remember that the place was packed with very strange looking people. The hotel was sponsoring some kind of contest related to body art (aka – tattoos).

Hey, from the details I’m coming up with in my head about that trip, I am now certain that I am right about William’s age. He was only two years old and Jenna was three. Since Craig was taking his mother to the emergency-clinic to see (pardon the pun) about her eye, I had the good fortune of caring for Jenna and William.

I’m sure I didn’t give William, the two-year-old, permission to jump on the bed, but in so doing he fell. His cry was as blood curdling as the General’s eye was red. My initial attempts to provide comfort were met with an even louder cry. That called for quick thinking and immediate action on my part.

I have absolutely no musical ability of any sort, but I can come up with a clever tune and crazy words for almost any occasion. I immediately burst into a playful song with a catchy rhythm: “Little William was jumping on the Bed. Little William fell off the bed and hit his head. Little William cried “Oh, Oh, Oh!” I only had to repeat the song about two times before William was laughing.  In fact, for several years following the experience, I sang that song to him every time we talked on the telephone.

I thought about my made up song today when I mentioned to a colleague that I really liked the monkey story. The trainer in the meeting we had attended mentioned a research project concerning six monkeys in a cage. The middle of the cage contained a ladder. Above the ladder was a cluster of bananas hanging from the top of the cage.

As the six monkeys tried to climb the ladder to reach the bananas, they were sprayed with ice-cold water. Apparently, they had no interest in monkeying around with water that cold. Their disdain for being drenched with ice-cold water was greater than their desire for the bananas. Consequently, in short order, they abandoned efforts at accessing the bananas.

One of the six monkeys was removed from the cage and replaced with a dry monkey. The monkey added to the group instinctively headed up the ladder to reach the bananas. The other five monkeys prevented ascent by attacking the dry monkey. Strategically, one-by-one, each of the wet monkeys was replaced with a dry monkey. Each attempt by the added dry monkey was met with the same level of violence. Interestingly, with a cage full of dry monkeys, none of the monkeys attempted to climb the ladder even though they had not been drenched with ice-cold water.

When I mentioned I liked the story about the monkeys, the colleague asked: “What about the ten monkeys jumping on the bed?” With the question, came immediate recollection of the nursery rhyme:

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped his head.

Mama called the Doctor and the Doctor said,

“No more monkeys jumping on the bed!’.

Four little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped her head.

Papa called the Doctor and the Doctor said,

“No more monkeys jumping on the bed!’.

Three little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped his head.

Mama called the Doctor and the Doctor said,

“No more monkeys jumping on the bed!’.

Two little monkeys jumping on the bed,

One fell off and bumped her head.

Papa called the Doctor and the Doctor said,

“No more monkeys jumping on the bed!’.

One little monkey jumping on the bed,

He fell off and bumped his head.

Mama called the Doctor and the Doctor said,

“Put those monkeys straight to bed!’”

The monkey story about the bananas and the ice-cold water was interesting. It highlights the fact that we can fall in a routine and never know the rationale behind why we do what we do. We just do it because it has always been done. I actually, thought at the time, I would blog about it. In looking up background information on the research for my blog, I found an article refuting the authenticity of the story the way it is presented. Apparently there was a research project on which the legend is based, but reportedly, there is a variation or two regarding the facts.

Of course, when it comes to monkey business, it doesn’t always have to be factual. Otherwise it might be described as something other than “monkey business”.

All My Best!

Don

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