Most, if not all of my adventures when I was growing up in Weirton, West Virginia, were with my best friend, Ramaine. She lived down the street from me, and we were attached at the hip. We were in Camp Fire Girls together. We rode the school bus together. We had a cabin in the woods together. It seemed like we were laughing all day long. My childhood was great because I had a best friend who was just like me. We lived outside the box, and had some very creative days. And, boy, were we stylish… We even bought white pants with pictures of the Monkees faces all over the pants. We were weird, but knew how to laugh at ourselves. We did that quite well. Sang the definition of “lima bean” into a tape recorder. The word, “bored”, was not in our vocabulary. The only difference we had was that she was a gerbil person, and I was a hamster person. Which lead us to the pet shop.
We used to visit the pet shop often.It was at the Weirton plaza, a little strip of stores near our homes. The guy had a lot of different animals at the pet shop. One particular visit to the pet shop concluded in uncontrollable laughter, one that I can say was the hardest I ever laughed in my whole life. Ramaine reminded me that we were in 8th grade when this happened. Dear God, she even remembers what she was wearing that day. Well, it was a day for the record books, that’s for sure.
The pet store was small, with a long counter with rows of animals in their little cages beneath it. The place was jammed with critters. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the snakes, though. There was even a mynah bird that cussed like you wouldn’t believe. It always amused me. But, on this particular day, I was on my knees, looking at a mother hamster and newborns on the bottom row. Ramaine was standing, bent over a little, looking at something else, when all of a sudden she asked, “What’s on my head?” I stood up, and my mouth dropped open. I didn’t or couldn’t say a word. A spider monkey had stepped off the top of the counter right onto her head. I really think I could have put my fist in my mouth. “What’s on my head?” she repeated. Well, hell, I couldn’t answer. I mean, there was a monkey on her head. Just sitting there. Ramaine reached up to feel what was on her head, and the monkey swatted her hand away. “What’s on my head?” She was expecting her bestest friend to give her an answer. She was panicking a little, starting to pace, and I was not answering, but standing there with a big smile on my face. Ramaine tried to bend over, and that’s when the little fellow grabbed her hair with both little hands to hang on. That’s when I first started laughing.
“What’s on my head????” Everytime her hand went up to feel what kind of creature was sitting there, he would release one hand from grasping onto her hair and slap it away. I couldn’t speak. I was laughing so hard. It was one of those silent, belly laughs, where you shake, but no sound comes out of your mouth. Now, Ramaine was pacing faster and moving her head, and bringing up her one leg for some reason, and that monkey was hanging on for dear life and I just couldn’t tell her that there was a monkey on her head. It reminded me of a little monkey jockey, riding something. I was in awe. I had never seen a live monkey. I did look around to see if a little old man with an organ grinder was standing nearby.
“VICKiE, GET IT OFF!! WHAT IS IT? GET IT OFF!” That monkey must have liked the view, because he had no intention of leaving Ramaine’s head. She looked like she was having a seizure. Her arms and legs were flailing all about, and the monkey was leaning to the left and then to the right, and would only take his hand off of the death grip on the her hair to swat at Ramaine.
I had to sit down on the floor. I started laughing so hard, I peed my pants. This is a recurring theme for me. Laugh. Pee. Repeat. “It’s a monkey….” I finally was able to speak. “I peed my pants.” Ramaine didn’t care. She had a monkey on her head. The owner finally came over and had to pry the little monkeys fingers from her hair. It wasn’t working too well.. Finally, a banana (I think I am making this part up) was waved in front of the monkey’s face and he left her head and went to sit on the owner’s shoulder. I found out later that the monkey’s name was Ginger. Ginger, I wish I had my camera that day.
I’m glad Ramaine was able to laugh about the whole thing on the way home. But, it was a nervous laugh, I could tell. I was sitting on a towel my mom brought for me and had to explain why, once again, I peed my pants. “I’m going to have to make an appointment for you to see Dr. Harper. There must be something wrong with your kidneys.” No, did you not hear me? There was a MONKEY on her head. I mean, come on. Urination justification.