Being the mom of a preschooler often feels like having a brain stuffed full of monkeys. They distract me with their antics and fling errant thoughts out my ears.
So the numerous times lately when I finished a transcription assignment and then neglected to upload it, I blame on my head full of monkeys. Walking around in a shirt covered with mustard stains after eating a hot dog? Head full of monkeys. Forgetting the first name of one of my son's playmates? Monkeys. There's mischief going on up there, day or night.
Rather than completely emptying out my brain house, they have filled it with vestiges of themselves. So I find myself lost in teenage daydreams: bouncing on a small exercise trampoline while watching "The Monkees." Dreaming of Peter Tork, the cute innocent one, laughing at the silliness as I bounced and bounced. The reunited Monkees -- sans party-pooper Michael Nesmith -- played at a state fair near us about that time. I never asked my parents to buy me tickets, because I was certain they would nix the expense. I vow to teach my son to tell me what he wants.
My brain monkeys show me a clip of Gilda Radner in a "SNL" short from the 1970s, Tom Schiller's send-up of an artistic Italian film. At the end, she walks away from the camera, telling the viewers to stop following her. Then she has a second thought, and glides back to us, bending down to welcome us with comforting arms, saying, "I love you, my little monkeys." And I love you, Gilda, who died way too early, but who inspired me to try to make all those monkeys laugh (with just a hint of Chaplinesque pathos).
The monkeys bring me Curious George, the literary creation whom my son once called Monkey George. I'm reminded of how he once scolded an invisible George for imaginary mischief, declaring that George had been naughty and would now go in the burp cage for punishment. In case you've never heard of a burp cage, my little Kung Fu Panda told me it's a cage where people burp on you.
The monkeys curl plastic hands into reminders of that frustrating childhood game I refuse to buy my son. The only monkeys my brother and I could successfully link hand-to-hand were those whose paws had been dented and flattened by the family dog.
The monkeys bring me a magazine article, in which an Indian man born with a skeletal abnormality resembling a tail has grown so accustomed to it that he does not want it removed, although doctors say it could lead to further spinal deformities. His devotees consider him a representation of Hanuman, the monkey god, and they bring him tributes greater than anything he could've expected from his humble birth.
I beg the monkeys to stop, to let the chaos subside so that I can find a pathway through the din. I need to remember why I'm here, and where I'm going. But they only chatter and demand that I pay tribute to them. Praise be the monkeys who loft creative ideas, who bat around my imagination, who suckle silliness. And praise be my little monkey: my four-year-old boy clinging to me with legs and arms. He declares himself Magnet Man, possessing the special ability to stick to things. He shadows me and chatters. The monkeys have their way, forcing me, Zen-like, to live in the now.
You can watch Tom Schiller's brilliant short, "La Dolce Gilda," on Vimeo (http://vimeo.com/48286686). It parodies the style of Italian director Federico Fellini. The scene I mention takes place at 2:29.