It's been Quite A Winter, folks, and to quote my friend Ouiser, "I'm not as sweet as I used to be." At least I don't plan to be in a bad mood for forty years.
Aunt Lo had a monkey. Also a brothel, as referred to in Family Forest IV . JoJo was a skinny little monkey, all arms and long tail, and the only one like it I've ever seen outside National Geographic is the little Ebola-carrier in the movie “Outbreak,” with Dustin Hoffman and Dr. McDreamy, when he wasn’t so very.
The monkey rode, wrapped around her neck, peering over her shoulder, sometimes mingling perfectly with those appalling three-minks biting each others’ tails. He was a little white-bearded cutie-in-appearance-only, with a propensity for rarin’ back and opening his mouth widewide, showing all sharp teeth and shrieking to High Heaven, a place which also figured prominently in JoJo’s bodily habits.
When it was Aunt Lo’s turn to host the family Christmas gathering, I don’t think it was by accident that we all took “pot luck” to the party, which in our neck of the woods didn’t mean you partook of whatever was in the pot when you were invited to dinner. Our pot luck was more like a potlatch, involving everyone’s bringing something, usually their best dish, to a “covered dish” social. But it’s still a mystery to me, that in that day of dishpan-on-the-counter, heat-the-water-in-a-kettle-for-washing-and-scalding, how ANY female of our family ever agreed to eat a bite in that house.
I suppose that JoJo was upset and frightened by all the folks milling around and talking loudly in the house, though he “knew” us all from visits over the years---just never in such numbers. We were gathering and taking off coats, hugging and laughing, setting down our food, and making ourselves at home in HIS house.
He began to do his grimace and shriek, jumping on the furniture and racing around the room---then he swung up the living room drapes, wildly defecating all the while, and bounced around up there on the curtain rod, still pooping like mad, throwing any bits he could manage to pick up, and giving those monkey-war-cries to the High Heaven he stank to. I thought it was hilarious---like a Saturday morning cartoon---I was maybe eight, and that kind of humor was right up my alley.
I have not the faintest recollection of whether we ate that day or not, and it’s mercifully passed from my memory. I also never inquired, nor had any curiosity of, the cleaning and fumigating process. Aunt Lo also had a grumpy old dog which once had lifted his leg into the gas space-heater right before she was to host the WMU monthly luncheon. She did the first thing she could think of---she sprayed the heater full of Avon to cover the smell, which must have given the whole house quite an atmosphere, and probably did a LOT for those ladies’ diets that day. It’s a wonder they didn’t all die of suffocation and sheer disgust, and probably also a blessing that Baptists don't excommunicate.
We all disliked and feared that monkey, but I was saddened at what was probably a painful demise---the only death-by-lamp I’ve ever heard of. He took to sleeping curled around the top of a lampshade on a tall floor lamp, so that the heat rising from the bulb kept him warm in the Winter---drafty old country house, dog-peed heater, smoky fireplace---any old torch in a storm.
Somehow, he must have become desensitized to the heat on his tail, and it finally burnt clean off, and he got sick and died. Poor JoJo, but he had a good life, after a fashion. He was warm, he got lots of petting, and I guess bananas bought with whorehouse dollars are as good as any.