Words Worth A Thousand Pictures

Crushing the Cliche That A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words


“Once the naked monkeys got out of hand, the gods became fed up with life on earth.”

So says Tom Robbins. Whatever. It’s not that I would have disagreed with him, mind you. I was simply too fed up with my own issues to calculate the consequences of godly worries, no matter how plural or pressing.

And as far as I was concerned, naked monkeys would have been a welcome addition to the funeral Kitty’s mother called a “party.” Now that would have been something to smile about.

Come to think of it, isn’t it a bit of a redundancy to identify the natural state of monkey attire, or, rather, the lack thereof ? Perhaps drawing attention to that detail heightens our interest towards — and maybe even elevates our fear of — hairy, hooting primates.

I mean, a monkey is one thing. But a naked monkey? Well, that’s a different story entirely. A monkey is cute, innocent, and playful. A naked monkey is mischievous, unpredictable, and lecherous.

If a monkey looks at you, you think, “Oh, he wants to play!” If a naked monkey looks at you, you avoid eye contact and start tucking in your shirt and shifting uncomfortably.

Yes, naked monkeys are decidedly and particularly menacing. Still, I would have traded being alone with a naked monkey for being confined to that stupid party.

Everything was so prim and proper, I felt handcuffed to a teacup that trembled between the thumb and forefinger of a stiff-backed queen who struggled to breathe through her corset. The women floated through the scene sighing disgusting things like “Just lovely!” and “What a pretty picture!” The unimaginative girls chattered on about the dullest things, like dollhouses, dress up, and make-up.

I was desperate to escape. I ached to fling my hat at the cake, kick off my shoes, hop onto the table and scream, “WAKE UP!”, then dance a quick jig while the ladies gasped, then giggle with glee and flee.

And now that I’ve thought it through, I’ve decided I do disagree with Mr. Robbins, although I confess my conclusion is anthropomorphic. If I were a deity looking over the sorry state of human affairs, I would let monkeys roam wild and free and naked without giving them a thought — no matter how nervous people felt around them.

I’d rather be inclined to be fed up with a lack of imagination and playfulness on the part of humans.


New Horizons

We dawdled despondently on the dusty porch, oppressed by heat and hopelessness. We weren’t lazy; there was just nothing to do and nowhere to turn.

But as we watched Daddy walking up the drive, we could tell something was different. He strode with a spring in his step we hadn’t seen in years.

We no longer had the energy to run out to meet him, but we were curious.

He was bursting with news. He spoke fervently of a green and shimmering land flowing with crystal waters, gushing with juicy fruit falling off drooping branches, and land where the rich, black earth radiated energy and life and promise.

He leaned, eyes glistening, arms waving. Transfixed, we watched him transform from a downtrodden, bare-footed farmer in holey overalls to a glowing saint in holy robes.

When Momma struggled off her stool to join us, we could tell the feeling was rising in her, too.

We swam in the cool, blue pools of Daddy’s words. Sweet juice streamed down our chins. Our bellies were gorged, our tongues danced from exotic flavors, lounging in tall grass so green it hurt our eyes — and no bill collectors in sight.

We piled everything we owned onto our old Ford that afternoon and headed west into the setting sun.

One Day

She often dreamed longingly of the day when she and her beautiful rake would be accepted as they were.

You Won’t Feel a Thing

The pretty brunette nurse, radiating motherly comfort, chatted pleasantries while she set up the machine.

“Now don’t worry,” she assured me, “you won’t feel a thing.”

I smiled back at her, feeling cozy under the blanket. I wondered if I’d be able to sleep through it.

But when she flipped the switch, a thousand lightning bolts shattered my brain.

The pulses froze my muscles. I couldn’t move or speak.

The nurses stood gossiping quietly and discussing after-work plans as I shrieked and wailed inside my head.

I was trapped inside myself with no way to communicate to the nurses that I was being fried alive from the inside. Horror strangled me.

I bloodied my fists, elbows, knees, forehead against the interior wall of my skull, screaming at them to let me out.

Needles, flames, plyers, hack saws, machetes, hammers, meat hooks, thumb screws collided inside my body, swirling and ripping, clawing and slashing, pounding and scorching, piercing and hacking, squeezing and slicing.

I was boiling and suffocating in pain. Red, hot, frothing, vicious, twisting, torturous torment. My insides writhed and thrashed and melted.

It felt like I had turned inside out and I was gushing and splattering all over the ceiling and walls, erupting nerves, sinew, tissue, organs, blood onto the floor.

And all the while my face, body, eyes are fiercely gripped, locked tight, frozen by the electricity.

Inside my mind I’m jerking, writhing, howling, screeching, bawling, begging, pleading for them to FLIP THE SWITCH! DEAR GOD PLEASE JUST LET ME DIE! TAKE IT AWAY! MAKE IT STOP! OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!

After the stipulated six minutes, the nurse switched off the switch and said gently, “There, now that wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Having a Rough Time

Toilet paper was her enemy.

Every time she was forced to perform her bodily duties, she sat and stared at the sinister roll, its deceptive whiteness concealing its teeth. She tried to tell her mother that she heard it snarling every time, but her mother dismissed her with, “Oh, don’t be ridiculous.”

When her first record spiked on the charts, the first thing she bought was a closet full of two-ply, quilted Charmin.

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