Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jef sings "oo-bee-doo" in his best Louis Prima

I know, in a realistic and pragmatic sense, that one of the last things I want as a homeowner is a monkey running through my yard. But I can’t help thinking that it must have been pretty cool back in the good old days when the Detroit Zoo was a little more primitive with its simian security and my house in Huntington Woods was within easy brachiating distance of the freedom side of the Monkey Island moat.

No worries. It’s not much longer a trip for me than it was for the occasional liberated monkey (unlike King Louie, I bought a zoo membership instead of hopping the fence), and I enjoy seeing the animals in their own neighborhood. I especially enjoy the signs that tell me what I’m looking at and some interesting, pertinent facts about that animal: Where they’re from, what they eat, how big they get, and why their buns get enormous and red every so often to such an extent that all the chocolate in the world would not make them feel better were they not lady chimpanzees who appeared not to give much of a damn anyway.

This (the signage, not the chimpanzee PMS-o-rama) was on my mind yesterday while I ran through Mayberry, RFM. I had an 8-miler on the schedule and some errands to run a little west of home, happily near a gym that would let me change into my running clothes and explore some new territory. I love to explore. I got lost almost immediately in what at first appeared to be the Community College District. It was just one big campus-sized building after another. They were not community colleges, of course; they were personal residences, and they were jaw-dropping. Some were jaw-dropping gorgeous, some were jaw-dropping tacky. Just about all of them were jaw-dropping big, and it goes without saying that all of them were jaw-dropping expensive.

And I thought to myself, these houses should have signs in front of them like the ones in front of the habitats at the zoo. They could tell us who lives there, what they do for work and fun, what they eat, and of course where all their money comes from. It would be tremendous fun, but it might also serve a purpose. I know William Jennings Bryan (again with the monkeys!) said that it’s impossible to earn a million dollars honestly, and Balzac said that behind every great fortune there is a crime. I don’t think either guy was 100 percent correct, but I’m sure both of them were close enough. Such signage might promote a little more honesty, though the more likely result would be that the biggest of the big houses would belong to the most gifted public-relations wordsmiths.

But there were no such signs to be had. Indeed, there wasn’t that much evidence of any actual human habitation. It was pretty quiet. If it were a zoo, I’d have asked for my money back. Which is when it hit me. Of course it wasn’t the zoo literally, but it wasn’t even the zoo figuratively. No. Figuratively, it was Huntington Woods, and I was Curious George on the loose.

I checked my watch; six miles to run. I looked over my shoulder; no Man In The Yellow Hat. So far, so good.


Anonymous said...

FYI, some interesting reading/pix

veloben said...

Always knew that guy in the yellow hat was evil.

Liz H. said...

We have signs of a sort on our homes already, but they're often not in words. Yours probably says "Here lives a man obsessed with bicycles" and goes on to point out such interesting features as (taking a shot in the dark) the rack on your car, the foil wrappers in your trash, and the clip shoes by your door.

Perhaps you just need more practice at reading signs. I'm fairly sure those red butts in (other) primates do not signal PMS -- quite the opposite.

Jef Mallett said...

Excellent points, all. And one of my own to add, a bit sheepishly: I should point out that a friend of mine lives in the very neighborhood I wrote about -- and that, to my knowledge, all he did to earn his great fortune was to make people happy. No crime. No dishonesty. Sorry, Balzac. Nobody's 100% right. And sorry, WJB. You're ... well, you could be a bit of an eloquent nutter sometimes. You were close, though.