This morning, I was awakened by the doorbell. Our doggie, Una, barked her head off as I frantically pulled on a robe and rushed down the stairs.
At the door, I was met by the FedEx guy, who wanted me to sign for a package. The package, at his feet, was large and dented, as if it had suffered a rude journey. The FedEx guy, I noted, was sweating profusely. He seemed relieved to get my signature and continue on his rounds.
While I didn't remember ordering anything that large, I order a lot of things off the Internet, and I figured that maybe I was just spacing on a recent order. I lugged the package inside, which was rather heavy. The contents inside were shifting as I dragged it across the threshold.
As I walked across the room to grab a pair of scissors, the package flopped onto its side. Then it flopped again. How odd.
I took the scissors to the tape, and as I cut it open at the side flaps, something from inside began pushing at the top of the box. I snipped the tape that ran down the middle, and the flaps popped open. A large, burnt-orange creature came bounding into the room, screeching and flailing its long arms. What the...
A piece of paper fluttered out of the box. It read, "Congratulations on joining the Orangutan of the Month Club. This month's orangutan is named Wojo, and she likes fruit, seeds and grains. A complete list of recommended foods appears on the back of this sheet. Orangutans are playful and will require a play area (specifications also on the back). Wojo is friendly and smart and enjoys companionship. Remember, according to the terms of the club membership, to ship her back at the end of the month. You will receive a new orangutan every 30 days. Enjoy your time with Wojo!"
By the time I finished reading, Wojo had climbed up on the desk by the window, where she was investigating our fruit bowl. She picked up an orange, bit it, and then threw it on the floor. Then she dug out an apple and happily munched on it, settling down next to the fruit bowl and knocking the tea container on its side.
After Una's initial stunned confusion, she began barking at the strange invader, although I noticed that she stayed as far away as possible in the process. Our kitty, Luke, however, had sauntered downstairs and was regarding the visitor calmly from on top of the filing cabinet.
Orangutan of the Month Club? That sounded familiar, but where had I seen it before? Then I remembered. It was an ad in the National Geographic. I'd found Luke sprawled across the magazine the other day, with that page open. But he lies on magazines all the time. And besides, he couldn't have possibly called the toll-free number and placed an order, could he?
Wojo had finished her apple and, spotting the hanging basket containing bananas, stretched up on her hind legs and grabbed the bottom basket, snatching the bunch with her other hand. She squeezed a banana into her mouth happily. Then another.
I called The Gryphon, who was at work, to tell him about the situation. "This is going to sound funny, but do you know anything about an Orangutan of the Month Club?"
"Did that finally come?" he asked. "I expected it closer to Valentine's Day."
"Valentine's Day? Are you crazy? Why would you get me an orangutan for Valentine's Day?"
"Well, I know that you're big on environmental issues, so I thought I'd sponsor an orangutan. They'll send you a new bio every month so that you can find out more about the orangutans you're helping."
"Not a bio. An actual orangutan! You must not have read the fine print" I explained the situation to him. He promised to call the organization and figure out what was going on.
As I hung up, Wojo had finished the bananas and begun climbing the nearby shelves, scattering CDs and vases as she did so. Una had stopped barking but was eyeing every movement of the orangutan. Luke watched placidly from his filing cabinet, casually licking one paw.
Wojo was in good spirits and, having reached the top shelf, whooped merrily as she tossed CDs onto the floor, bouncing up and down joyously as they crashed. Una began barking again. She hates change, especially when wrought by a hairy, orange interloper.
The Gryphon called back with bad news: "They said they understood, that this sort of confusion happens all the time. They'll send somebody to the house later to collect Wojo. They asked if I wanted a reimbursement, and I told them that as long as they collected the orangutan, they could keep the money and use it to care for the animals. That's what I thought I was doing anyway." He apologized for getting me into this mess and said he'd make it up to me on our anniversary.
Wojo had finished with the CDs and eyed me with interest. She made some cooing sounds, as if she was trying to coax me to her. Poor thing. It wasn't her fault that she'd gotten sent to us. I approached her slowly, talking nicely to her.
As I drew closer, she made a happy noise and reached out her arms towards me. How sweet! I reached my arms out to touch her. That's when she stepped onto my shoulders and then positioned herself in a clinging bear hug.
"There, there, Wojo. It's not your fault," I told her. She picked imaginary nits out of my hair.
The thing is, she won't let go. So for the past hour I've been walking around the house with an orangutan clinging to me. Even as I type this, she's perched on the arm rest, her long arms wrapped around me in a permanent hug.
It's going to be one interesting day.