Monday, March 12, 2007

bittersweet simian-phy

There’s a great ABBA song called “The Day Before You Came”, in which the singer talks about an average day in which she got up, went to work, came home, watched something crappy on TV, and read a romance novel before going to bed. It’s about how she had no idea, on that ordinary day, that the next day would bring something so wonderful that would change her life completely.

Just like how I had no idea on Friday that Saturday would bring magic into my world.

I went to G’s earlier than usual because we were going to Santa Monica with C and M. They had an appointment in the area, so they dropped us off at the Third Street Promenade with plans to meet up again for lunch. Glenn and I strolled down the sidewalks, popping into stores here and there and occasionally stopping to watch a musician or dancer busking for change.

“Hey, what’s Famima?” G asked.

“Famima!” I cried, tugging him towards the store. “Oh my god, there’s a Famima here?”

Famima is short for Family Mart, which is basically the Japanese equivalent of 7-11 (although they have those too). I’d heard that they were opening stores in the US, so I was eager to go inside and see what goodies they had to offer. There was nothing I couldn’t get at Little Tokyo, though, so I only bought an onigiri and munched on it as we continued walking.

“Oh, hey, do you have your cell phone turned on?” G asked. “I told C to call us when they were coming back this way.”

“I think so, but I’d better check,” I said, unzipping my purse and rummaging around. I was so busy looking for my phone that I almost banged into Glenn when he stopped suddenly.

OH MY GOD,” G said. “You will NOT believe this.”

“What?” I asked, half hopeful and half fearful.

“Wait until you see what all of those people are looking at,” he said, and he took my hand and led me through the crowd, and when I espied what was before me, I let out a low moan of pure, primal delight.

Dear reader, I almost wet my pants.

“Monkey,” I moaned, clutching at Glenn’s hand. “Monkey in a HAT.”

G laughed. “Do you have a dollar?”

I scrabbled in my purse and extracted a dollar, and I made my way to the edge of the mat. I was nothing but pure, quivering id. At that moment, there was only one thing on my mind, and that was fulfilling my lifelong dream of touching a monkey.

I bent down, and with trembling fingers, I extended the dollar. The monkey came over, took the dollar, put it in his vest pocket, and then he…

…dear sweet God…


I returned to G and beamed beatifically at him. “I touched the monkey,” I whispered.

“Do you want to do it again? I’ll take a picture of you this time.”

So I got out another dollar and returned to the mat. Here, captured for all eternity, is this momentous occasion:

I really should have stopped there.

See, I just couldn’t get enough of that tiny hand on mine, and I wanted to see if I could get a picture of the monkey shaking my finger, so I borrowed a dollar from Glenn and crouched down again. I aimed my cameraphone with my right hand, held out the dollar with my left, and with a screech, the monkey swooped down on me and stole my phone!

O cruel behatted simian!

“Ooooooh,” quoth the crowd.

“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” screeched the monkey.

Fortunately, my brain was not so addled by primate-induced endorphins that I tried to take my phone back. The monkey’s owner pulled him back, said something in Spanish, and the monkey instantly dropped his prize. The owner returned my phone, now covered in monkey spit and tiny fingerprints, and I meekly returned to Glenn’s side. We found the nearest public bathroom, where I promptly toweled off my phone and washed my hands with hot water and five pumps worth of liquid soap.

When I came back outside, G said, “Hey, now you don’t have to go to Costa Rica!”

I arched an eyebrow at him. “Find a sloth on this promenade and then we’ll talk.”