Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sundays with Steve - Speaking of Circus Monkeys

These Sunday's segments are written by my husband, Mr. Jenny. Here's what he has to say about his posts:

I’ve been writing these weekly stories about life in Northern Idaho, as a youngster and as growing into a young man, primarily for our family. And I'm delighted to share them with you. Just between us, I’m anticipating being cranky when some whipper-snapper who may not even be born yet harasses me in 30 years or so with 'Grandpa, tell me about when you were a boy.' That will probably be after the mad cow disease has set in and erased whatever memory is left. So these are the not-so-dramatic adventures of a Baby Boomer in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.


Speaking of Circus Monkeys!

My friend Bill Mitchell was subtle, quirky, a bit “off” maybe. He was a banker, or at least the small independent bank in Meridian, Idaho paid him to be a loan officer at its sole branch. He hated it, in those years. He was much more comfortable playing his horn with the famed jazz pianist Gene Harris most weekends at the old Idanha Hotel in nearby downtown Boise. He was quite good at that.

We would meet some Thursday evenings after work for cocktails at Bill’s Lounge, a honky-tonk just off Main Street and within a few feet of both the bank office and the newspaper where I worked.

For a period of six months, Mitchell would come into the bar, sit down, order a drink, and ask those at the table, “Have you seen my monkey?’ Nobody knew what he was talking about, and he wouldn’t explain. Like I said, he was a bit quirky.



That summer the Bill Kay Shrine Circus came to our small town. Mr. Kay, the owner, did the advance work and came to my office one day, offering free tickets for our newspaper carriers and looking for news coverage of the coming events.

I asked a special favor.

“Bill, I need to borrow a monkey,” I said. “Huh?” Was the reply I received, I think. I told him that one of my friends, a local banker, and gone a bit nuts and thought he lost his monkey. I’d like to borrow a monkey for an hour or so, to play a joke on Mr. Mitchell, the banker.

“Sure,” said the circus manager, “I’ll send one over along with a trainer.”

The next day was Wednesday, the day when we typically attended the weekly Kiwanis service club luncheon. The trainer and the monkey showed up about 11.30. Mitchell usually expected me at a quarter to twelve, to drive together to the Kiwanis lunch. This day I had a surprise.

I walked through the front door of the bank, it was crowded with customers, and Mitchell was at his desk toward the back of the lobby, helping a young lady open a new checking account. I yelled loudly across the lobby, “Hey Mitchell, I found your monkey, and here it is!”

The bank went dead silent as the customers and employees stared at me, and at the monkey following me through the front door. Then the laughter started. I had the newspaper’s photographer along as well, he was busy taking pictures.

“Mitchell, here,” I yelled again, “I found your monkey, he was across the street looking for you!”

Mitchell was speechless, and quickly turned red with embarrassment.

We walked to the back of the bank lobby where Mitchell’s desk was located, the monkey jumped on the desk and put his arms around Mitchell’s neck. The photographer was in full picturing taking mode. The new customer sat in awe. Mitchell just grinned, and his face continued to redden in embarrassment. The bank guard woke up and came running, trying to rescue his boss from the kisses the monkey was planting on Mitchell’s cheek.

We walked the monkey over to the small teller line where the monkey climbed up on the counter to greet the employees and customers; he was a very polite monkey, and he shook everyone’s hand. Mitchell tried to finish up with the new customer but could not, and turned the task over to another bank employee.

Mitchell was still speechless, but found his voice when he discovered we were taking the monkey to the Kiwanis luncheon, which usually had 30 or 40 local business people in attendance. Mitchell objected, but not very hard, and we put the “Hey Mitchell, I found your monkey” show on again once everyone was seated in the restaurant’s banquet room.

The trainer took the monkey back to the circus after it shook everyone’s hand at the banquet tables, giving the crowd a good laugh at Bill Mitchell’s expense.

I ran a picture of Mitchell and the monkey in the newspaper the next week, as a part of the promotion for the circus show.

And from that day forward, Mitchell never again asked, “Have you seen my monkey?”

(c) 2010 Stephen J. MatlockThis publication is the exclusive property of Stephen J. Matlock and is protectedunder the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Stephen J. Matlock. All rights reserved.

4 comments:

Pat Tillett said...

Another classic! The guy never did tell you what he meant when he said it? Maybe a toast of some type. My grandma had several odd sayings like that, but she did them just to crack us up.

Ms. A said...

Steve, that was brilliant!

Nezzy said...

Inquiring minds want to know what he meant but this dear sir was a great read!!! I can just see the bakers face. Heeehehehe!

God bless ya man and have a great day!!! :o)

Bonnie ~ a wee Meenit said...

Hi Jenny,
I have some good news for you - you have been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award! I so enjoy your blog. YOU deserve it. You can find out more by going to: http://aweemeenit.blogspot.com/2011/10/guess-what-mandy-from-project-queen.html: Have a great day!