|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Feb. 19, 2005 - 4:43 p.m.
Monkey See, Monkey Dead
Last Wednesday NewWifey(tm) drove from Dangerhouse in Sussex County to Mountain View in Passaic County to get her nails done. This trip takes about an hour.
There are probably 17 different nail salons within a 10 mile radius of Dangerhouse.
But she does the 48 mile trek along winding mountain roads and down miserable, congested Rt.23 to Rt. 202 once a week, every week, to get her nails done in Mountain View.
Because NewWifey(tm) is a racist.
Unless you are Asian - preferably from Asia - you are not allowed to touch her nails. All other races, with their clunky, heavily boned hands and big round eyes that let in too much light to focus properly, are genetically inferior at the Nailing Arts.
Not only do you have to be Asian, but you should claim your heritage specifically from Southeast Asia. I learned that part when I pointed out to NewWifey(tm) that the nail place next to the Vernon liquor store (3 miles away) seemed to be staffed by Orientals.
"Yes, but they're Chinese" she said. "The ladies in Mountain View are from Vietnam - very different. They have tiny, birdlike hands that can manipulate much finer applicators. The Chinks can be more like Chunks after living here a while, their mitts getting as bloated and unwieldy as a Cracker chick's sometimes. I'll use 'em in an emergency, but only if I'm having one solid color put on."
I had minored in anthropology and was abashed that my professors neglected to mention these distinctions. I felt like I was in that old Saturday Night Live skit where Richard Nixon (Dan Ackroyd) explains to Pat (Jane Curtain) that "All Vietnamese are Gooks, but not all Gooks are Vietnamese...."
So down to Mountain View and the gracile Vietnamese therein she went this past Wednesday, to have her nails stripped and layered and buffed and painted and god knows what else. Maybe a Happy Ending for all I know (they better, for what they charge). Her appointment was for late in the afternoon, which meant I was already in bed by the time she got back.
"There was a dead monkey on the side of Rt.202 yesterday." she said matter of factly when I walked in the door Thursday.
"A dead...monkey? In New Jersey?" I said.
"Yeah. He was lying on the side of the road about halfway between Mountain View and Lincoln Park." She was spreading Gorgonzola cheese on some pear wedges to have with her breakfast Port. "It was kinda dark when I went by, but it looked like it was brown, with one of those little Winston Churchill faces. And blood coming out of its ears."
"Did you stop?"
"Stop? On Rt.202? For a dead monkey? What do I look like, a para-vet?"
I thought about this all day at work yesterday (Friday). You don't see many feral monkeys in New Jersey these days. Most migrated south, oh, 2 million years ago or so.
Personally, I thought that NewWifey(tm) was just mistaken. With all the toxic waste sites and chemical dumps, local New Jersey fauna has been known to mutate into some pretty unusual forms. She probably just spotted a 75 pound cat, or a 4 foot long furred skink. More likely, considering this IS New Jersey, she saw a dead human - either a midget or a child. Neither of which would have caused a true Jerseyite to give even a second glance.
Nonetheless, I had to check it out. If it WAS a 4 foot long furred skink, I could add it to my collection.
So yesterday after work I wheeled Stanley up Rt.23, and just north of the Rt.46 interchange I turned off onto Rt.202 in Mountain View.
I dropped down into 2nd gear and crawled along the right shoulder, looking for monkey.
Sure enough, about 2 miles in I spotted what looked like a skinny kid with a tail and wearing a hairy snowsuit lying face down in the gravel.
It sure didn't look like a furred skink.
I parked the Mighty WRX and walked over for a closer look. Cars were winging by at 70 in that 30 mph zone, not one driver even bothering to drift a little to the left as they passed me mere inches away. If I had taken a half a step back at the wrong moment I would have dropped like a fluttering wildebeest.
I've gotta hand it to NewWifey(tm). In the dark, zipping by like all the others at 70 (at least), 5 feet off the ground in her SUV, and without any formal training in taxonomy, she had managed to correctly identify the corpse after just the briefest of glances. It was indeed a monkey. Its face was pulled back in a horrible rictus of fear, teeth bared, nostrils flared. Probably frozen there from the instant just before the car hit it. But it was definitely a monkey. From what little experience I had of them, I was guessing a Rhesus.
But...what was it doing there??
My first guess, and the one that made the most sense to me, was that it was a research monkey. New Jersey is home to some of the more successful (ie: vile) pharmaceutical conglomorates in the world, and they employ legions of simian test subjects in their quest to develop more efficient erectile dysfunction remedies. Could it be that one of the little brutes was so ungrateful for the carefree life of daily injections and tissue harvesting he was provided that he bolted out the window when a careless intern left his 12 x 15 inch cage unbolted one night? I suppose it was possible.
On the other hand, the nearest research facility was over 20 miles away. Pretty tough for a knuckle dragger (well, brachiator) unless he had one of those little tricycles. And I didn't see any around there.
More likely, I figured, was that he was dumped there by a researcher.
When I was in college I somehow managed to score a research fellowship while majoring in Experimental Psych. I was first assigned to teach pigeons how to peck various colored lights, and then to flog mice through a maze. After the pigeons had dazzled us with their amazing learning and discernment abilities, we gassed them. Same with the mice, although we first took their brains out and poked around to see what sort of wonderful changes our experiment had made to their neural patterns.
We had HUNDREDS of dead mice and pigeons at the end of the first semester. So many, in fact, that no one noticed when several dozen were spirited away one night before reaching the incinerator.
That's when me and a couple of my team mates from the fencing team nailed the birds to perches all over campus, each one with a bloody mouse carcass in its beak.
Science marches on....
So when I saw that Rhesus monkey on the side of the road miles away from the nearest lab, I had to assume that some bored and/or drunk minimum wage researcher decided to have some fun with one of his less fortunate former subjects. He probably strapped the little guy into the passenger seat and had a blast scaring drive-through McDonald's clerks. When he got tired of that game (or realized it was a lousy hook to pick up chicks) he tossed his ol' buddy out the door.
I got back in my car and drove home.
I more or less forgot about it after that, other than to mention to NewWifey(tm) that she was correct; there was a dead monkey on the side of Rt.202 in Lincoln Park. But otherwise, let's face it, dead monkeys can't hold a candle to "The Simple Life: Interns" premier. Blond, tailess simians soon crowded all other thought out of my head. And that was that.
Until today at work.
I was doing show prep before going on air, leafing through the stacks of newspapers we get delivered from communities all over. I needed to see what was happening around the area I could bring up on several of my stations, street fairs, festivals, that sort of thing. I was just about to wrap things up and head to my studio when a one column story in the Obituary page of The Herald News (Paterson, NJ) caught my eye.
The headline: "Vincenzo D'allio, 97, was Vaudeville performer."
Huh. That might be worth a mention. I gave a quick read.
After the usual "...born in Milan, moved with his family to America in 1915 where he learned to juggle...", it mentioned that in his later years Mr. D was a much loved figure on the streets of Paterson NJ, where he entertained tourists and locals as an organ grinder well into the 1990's. They had a picture of him wearing an intricate braded vest, with one of those old wooden crank organs slung around his chest.
And he held a leather leash attached to a small Rhesus monkey, who was wearing a matching vest and clutching a battered tin cup. The picture identified them as "Vincenzo and Farfalline".
The story went on to say that a small funeral had been held in Wayne, after which the body was driven to the family's burial plot in Lincoln Park.
After years of walking the streets together, old Vincenzo probably couldn't bear to give up his one and only friend when he retired. I imagine they probably lived together in his tiny apartment like an old married couple, eating cold ravioli straight from the can and taking turns cleaning each other's feces from the walls.
And then one of them died. And the other couldn't bear to be kept away from the burial.
Or maybe he just got hungry and knew they sold ravioli at the 7-11 down the street.
Either way, a sedan doing 70 on Rt.202 cut his plans short.
I had to see that monkey again, if only to find out if he had any money on him. You never know with these street grinder animals - they MUST skim some off the top when the ol' Wop isn't looking. Bananas ain't free, y'know.
But alas, when I got off work today and took that side trek down Rt.202 again he was gone. Maybe one of Vincenzo's grandkids spotted Farfalline lying twisted and matted, and took him off to a taxidermist so they would always have something to remember their mustachio'd grandfather by. Or maybe they took him to the dump, since it always screeched and tried to bite them whenever they visited his stinking, shit filled apartment. More likely though it was dragged off and devoured by one of the mutant carnivorous geese that terrorize the area. I'll never know.
I drove the rest of the way home in silence, arriving just in time for dinner. NewWifey(tm) had our nice china and flatware set out, and a bottle of old Pomerol decanted.
"I made your favorite" she purred.
She lifted the lid over each plate, and we took our silver spoons and started daintily scooping out small mounds of fresh monkey brains from the topless skulls in front of us, Hannibal Lechter style. I felt a tiny fist clutch my pant leg with my first spoonfull, then go slack. Mmmmmmm......
Ok, ok. We actually had ravioli. But I didn't think you'd believe me.