Present Tense – #8

There are monkeys on top of the Rock of Gibraltar.

Did you know this?

I certainly didn’t.

Well, that’s not entirely fair to say. One of our travelling companions, a lovely lass that I’ll call “Twyla” for now, because I haven’t mentioned to her that I might ensnare her in one of my stories, and I don’t relish any vindictive recourse she might take for me doing so. Twyla, at one point in her vibrant journey through life, did something with the British military, and that something involved a brief stint in Gibraltar wherein she ascended The Rock and knew quite well what could be found there.

Yes, Twyla knew about the monkeys. And to her credit, she tried to let us know about the monkeys as well. In the week leading up to our day-journey to Gibraltar, she mentioned them several times, but I will freely admit that things didn’t quite register with me as I was more concerned with opening enough beer that I could re-tile the lanai with bottle caps. (I was on vacation and not particularly invested in strengthening my knowledge base. Sue me.)

I’m sure the monkeys were also mentioned at some point in one of my mandatory geography classes during my servitude in the American public school system, hundreds of years ago when I attended such. (We rode to school in a covered wagon, wearing outfits made out of corn husks and hope.) I probably don’t specifically remember the monkey issue due to the lackluster presentation skills of the teacher. He probably said “There are monkeys on The Rock and they roam freely”. This is a mundane statement of fact, one that will not entice a 12-year-old boy to retain this information. What the teacher should have said? “There are monkeys on The Rock and they can kill you.”

That I would have remembered. Luckily, the monkeys didn’t try to kill all of us when we rode the cable car up the side of The Rock, and then we were released into the wild. They only tried to kill one of us, and her fake name is “Midge”, a moniker that may not amuse her but pleases me immensely. Midge is the wife of Twyla, and as such she should have known much more about the monkeys than I did, since they share the same bed and all. (Sample pillow talk conversation – Twyla: “Whatever you do, don’t encourage the monkeys.” Midge: “Got it. Should we watch Mock the Week now?”)

We had been on top of The Rock for less than fifteen minutes when the incident occurred.

I wasn’t actually there when things transpired. I had wandered off into a lesser-travelled area, mainly because it had the appearance of a lesser-travelled area and that’s where I like to go. I’m not a fan of large tourist crowds, especially when I have to wait for members of said crowd to go away so I can get closer to whatever the hell they were being pushy about seeing. I prefer the quiet streets with hidden treasures, leisurely explorations and a complete lack of people taking selfies wherein they are the predominant feature in the photo and not the important architectural monument behind them.

So I’m clattering around in the remnants of what appears to be a concrete bunker (was there some type of war here?), entranced by the history but annoyed by all the litter left behind by disrespectful tourists, when I get a sixth-sense foreboding that I’d best rejoin my companions. I wander my way back to the group to find that Midge is a bit wide-eyed and everyone else is a definitely unsettled.

Me: “What’s going on?”

Well, apparently Midge had simply been standing there looking pretty, with the Mediterranean sun highlighting her in a thoughtful manner, when one of the playful monkeys decided that she would be the perfect apparatus for a bit of festive climbing. Said monkey did so, quickly ensconcing himself on Midge’s left shoulder.  Everyone in attendance during the ascension found this to be a perfect photo op, and pictures were taken. Said photos, later reviewed, provide a detailed visual narrative, with the story progressing from Midge and the Monkey being best buddies to the point where Monkey decides that his life goal is to start ripping out handfuls of Midge’s golden locks.

The screams were apparently heard across the sea in Morocco. The citizens of Morocco paused briefly, acknowledging the misery of human existence, and then they went back to not caring and searching for a nice leg of lamb for the evening meal.

I didn’t hear the screams at all, despite being a mere hundred feet away in a concrete bunker that may or may not have been used by Winston Churchill during some irksome negotiations during World War II, because I have focus issues. But now that I was privy to the violation, I tried to express my sympathy. This mainly involved being glad that it wasn’t me who had undergone an impromptu coiffure rearrangement, making a mental note that I better stay the hell away from the monkeys, and considering patting in a consolatory manner on Midge’s shoulder, but then refraining when I realized that she might hurl my ass into the sea in some type of PTSD reaction.

In any case, Midge recovered quite nicely, despite now needing sunscreen on her head, and we continued to gambol about on top of The Rock. This went on for some time (that rock is BIG, people) as we meandered from here to there. Eventually, I rounded a corner and found the monkey in the photo above. He was just sitting there, paying no attention to the people around him and doing his own thing. (We bonded immediately, as I do the same.) But as he reflected on the haphazardness of what has become of The Rock, I couldn’t help but have my own contemplations.

His kind has been here for far longer than any of the intrusive tourists have been alive.

The metallic beasts now trolling the sea were not there when his ancestors sat in this same position.

Sometimes Man, in his haste to subjugate, forgets to respect the value of all things.

So says me as I wait for the cable car to take me back down the mountain, choosing ease over effort.



Previous Note: Originally published in “Bonnywood Manor” on 10/08/16. No changes made, as we’ve had waves of severe thunderstorms rolling through all day and evening, and I’ve been more focused on that rather than coming up with something freshly clever. (There was a thunderclap ten minutes ago of such an explosive nature that we won’t see Cleo the Cat for at least a week, which is roughly the same amount of time it will take for my man-bobs to re-descend. It was LOUD, people. I haven’t blinked since it happened.)

New Note: In the comments of that previous post, I had a brief chat with “Midge”. The exchange was nothing profound, but I think it perfectly encapsulates our whimsical but greatly-relished relationship.

“Midge”: I can almost feel my scalp burning as I read this! Love! ‘Midge’ BTW – ‘Twyla’ sends her love.

Me: Dearest Midge,

It moves me greatly that you were greatly moved.

Shock, The Monkey


33 replies »

  1. First snow and freezing temperatures, and now thunderstorms? If you start writing about eclipses, locusts, boils, frogs, flies or lice, I’m leaving. I’m buying a spot on the next Mars trip and setting down roots, or something. 😉 Stay safe. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • To be fair, the bit about the thunderstorms was part of the previous comment. But since it WAS raining as I rewrote this and we were technically under a severe thunderstorm watch, I left the reference intact. We just weren’t having the alarming claps of thunder, and Cleo was calmly purring in one of her many household thrones…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mother Nature has had it Texas it seems. I dont know anything about weather, but aren’t thunderstorms usually a summer thing? And weren’t you just buried under 10 feet of ice?
    Can’t blame a Monkey for wanting to snatch a human bald-headed. Poor Midge just had the prettiest hair I guess.🤷🏼‍♀️
    In case you were wondering… it is NOT childish or immature to hide in the closet whimpering when Mother Nature is making a point.🧸💕

    Liked by 3 people

    • From a karmic perspective, many of the folks in Texas have earned the wrath of Mother Nature and any other deities who are dissatisfied with their collectively bigoted and selfish actions. It all comes back around, in one way or another…

      It’s the monkeys’ house. We’re the invaders, and we should stay on our toes. (But Midge DOES have some really swell hair.)

      And for the record, I have full respect for Mother Nature. When she’s talking, I listen… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Most entertaining, Brian, and while I have no current plans to visit the Rock of Gibraltar, I consider myself forewarned about monkeys. Thank you.
    By the by, I much prefer my monkeys to be at Gibraltar than running around in Orlando bowing to a golden idol. Jesus Christ.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. As King Bens Grandma says about the WTF weather? Snow, thunderstorms, pestilential leaders? What happened to dusty tumbleweeds, ten gallon hats and a Tequila or ten under the canopy at the Aye Carumba Cantina? Strange times. Remember, looking up to the thunder and lightning criss-crossing the sky requires one to take a deep breath every couple of minutes or so. (And don’t go crossing yourself. THAT is way past redundant, is it not?) ‘Also ‘Shock the monkey?’ Droll.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Whilst all of you comment was satisfying as usual, I am most enamored of your making the music connection. I was overly-pleased with myself for that reference, and I was just waiting for someone to take note. (Although Clive, just below you, almost got there first. Whew!) Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “during my servitude in the American public school system, … , wearing outfits made out of corn husks and hope.” LOL. That’s funny. That must be a nice organic outfit. That monkey in the picture is thinking, “I only pulled Midge’s hair because she didn’t bring me any food. Who would come to pay respect to monkey rock without bringing some sacrifices? Look at this view, so beautiful. Worth 10 oranges to be carried from the foot of the mountain to the top for me. If you want to pet me, that’s another 10 oranges.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kudos to your imaginative musings of The Monkey on The Rock, as I suspect you were quite spot on. The poor guy’s family has been there forever, and he spends his day dealing with humans (some of them very foolish) who keep intruding on his territory. I’m assuming that I would resort to a bit of hair-pulling if I were in the same boat.

      And that view! Even with all those annoying ships, it’s still magnificent…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I know I commented on this the last time it posted, but only now does it occur to me to dwell on the wild news of monkeys at The Rock! That’s so cool! And somehow alarming as well.

    I’m behind in my blog reading and am traveling backwards, so to speak, as I catch up. See you again soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The monkeys are a wee bit alarming, especially when there happen to be several of them near you at the same time. But they encounter tourists all day long, so most of them just ignore you and go on about their various pursuits. Just be considerate and you’re fine. Unless they manage to make their way into the cafe where you simply wanted to relax and have a cool drink, and this apparently happens all the time according to one of the servers who had to stop in the midst of taking our order so he could escort one back outside. Still and all, I think you would love the experience…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I saw the word “monkeys” and almost fled. Monkeys seriously creep me out, and one the size of that one in your photo would make me cower inside the tram/trolley quaking in fear. If it came to perch upon my shoulder, I’d probably die on the spot, giving the monkeys a ‘win’. Monkeys. Brrrrrrr. Cleo has the right idea. I don’t mind thunder (even resoundingly LOUD thunder), but the juxtaposition of that kind of thunder on top of the recent iceberg situation is worrisome. If you need refuge, I’m just hours north of you… (lots of hours but any port in a storm). It’s sunny if bitingly cold today, with the vague promise of Spring wafting about on the really strong breeze out there. I was going to strew a few hollyhock and poppy seeds to see if I can get them to grab hold, but they’d simply blow away OR those horrid magpies would eat them, so it’ll have to wait for a calmer day. If one happens along. Still the invitation is there should you need sanctuary. Just BYOB, cause Utah doesn’t have decent booze, even if they charge the same prices..

    Liked by 3 people

    • Monkeys don’t really bother me. (Granted, I’ve never been close enough to one so that he could pull my hair, but still.) There are many other animals that give me much more concern, and one of them is humans. Most animals do not have a sense of cruelty. Humans do.

      I’ve probably babbled about this before, but I love rain and reasonable thunder, but only when I KNOW that nothing more sinister is brewing. It’s the possibility of destruction that makes me anxious when the skies darken.

      Thank you muchly for the invite. And someday I’ll make good on it. (And I will be toting plenty of adult beverages with me when I do so.)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh well Melanie, you may just get your wish of a world entirely without monkeys as pretty much all of them are endangered or critically endangered by deforestation of the world’s jungles to put meat on people’s plates. I hope that provides you with some relief! Pretty soon there will be no wild animals in the world left, and won’t that be something to celebrate!


  8. I didn’t know about the monkeys, but then I’ve never really been anywhere. I do know about the big iguanas in Key West. I’ve been down there once, and one of the days, it was a bit chilly. It was hilarious to see them just fall off things. Bwahahahahahahaha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds like you might get along just fine with Partner. He loves nothing more that to see people fall down or run into things. It gives him great joy, especially if it’s ME falling or running.

      Melanie mentioned above that she didn’t really care for monkeys, and while I was responding to her I was trying to think of any animals that give me the creeps (other than obvious things like rabid lions and tigers and bears), and nothing immediately came to mind. But the you mentioned iguanas. THOSE things give me the creeps. There’s just something off about them that I can’t quite put my finger on. Which brings us back to Partner again… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • I went to Florida once many years ago and on the local news, a man was drunk and fell sleep on the passenger seat while his pet iguanas was driving his car. The police stopped the pair. I forgot what happened next. Bad memory. Probably the police arrested the iguanas, who was eventually released by a judge who based his ruling on the fact that there’s no law that says animals should not drive.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh! I’m with partner. I love to see people falling down or running into things. I just wasn’t able to laugh about anything for fear of inciting wrath. Now, I get right giddy at the sight of anything, but mostly it’s me who’s doing things like getting the cuff of my jacket caught on the doorknob as I’m going out the door…or trying to change the channel on the television with my iPhone. Sigh.
        Oh, I think those iguanas are too cute! I used to have a few. I guess they didn’t like me or something. They died. 😦
        The only thing that absolutely gives me the creeps are those palmetto bugs. The first time I saw one up close was in Florida. I thought I saw something fly out of the fireplace, so I went over to look. There was this huge bug about the size of a small car, sitting on the top of my sofa. I bent down to get a closer look and that thing spread its wings and flew right into my hair. The thought still gives me the heebee-jeebees. (shuttering).

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I had a monkey jump from very far right on top of my head on the rock in 2012. I was wearing a shiny headband that called to him. He sat on my head and stuck his fingers in my eyes to hang on…still not sure how I didn’t get pink eye from the butt-scratching monkey! 🐒

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I feel sorry for your friend who got her hair ripped out. But I enjoyed the final line of this piece about the subjugation of other species, you are spot on there. Humans are the apex predator and dominators of all species and we have marginalized this particular macaque species, the only macaque left in Europe, to a tiny rocky outcrop on the ocean. We are assholes in short, but we can also can undo the damage too if we join together. See here:

    Liked by 1 person

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