There have been some questions by you readers of these words of mine about the prevalence of sock monkeys in photographs and on or about our persons when we are out and about. This is one of those Arthur-humor things that got out of hand for many years and became a part of our life together.
Like many young children Arthur had a favorite stuffed animal, Zeus the Wonder Bunny, a medium sized gray/brown stuffed rabbit with long floppy ears. When Arthur was young Zeus went with him everywhere (often on his head) and even when he was a young teenager Zeus still had a spot on his bed.
At some point, someone, I don’t recall who, gave Arthur a small stuffed monkey, the kind that looks like a gibbon with long arms and legs with little Velcro patches so that the monkey’s hands and feet could be stuck together around something to hold it up. Deb and I both had similar conversations with him shortly after:
One night, when tucking Arthur in and talking to him a little bit, as was our habit, I saw the monkey hanging up on his bedpost.
“What’s the monkey for?” I ask.
“It’s my emergency monkey”, was his reply.
“Why do you need an emergency monkey”, I foolishly ask with a dumb look on my face.
“Dad, do you really need to ask why?”, he responded with a grin.
Soon he got another monkey of the same kind somewhere and hung it on the other bedpost, this became his Emergency Backup Monkey. The Emergency Monkeys of course became a constant running joke. Whenever Arthur would go somewhere he would be asked all of those questions parents ask: “Do you have your book bag? Do you have your cello? Do you have your water bottle? Do you have your Nerf gun darts?” Always ending with; “Do you have your emergency monkey?”
One Christmas, Arthur’s sisters, who thought this was a terribly funny set of circumstances, got him a foot tall sock monkey. They then embroidered, in red thread, “Emergency” across the front of the monkeys hat and “Monkey” across the back, they then stitched a red cross on his chest. It was a big hit.
When we started the 186 Miles Project I wanted a way to carry some of Arthur’s ashes with me while traveling and was having a hard time figuring out how to do so. One of my dearest friends found the solution, “The Worlds Smallest Sock Monkey”.
I got one of those little aluminum pill carriers, size small, filled it with some of Arthur’s ashes and sealed it with thread sealer. Then I carefully opened up the back of the little sock monkey and put the vial in it, with a cord loop attached, and sewed it back together. The little guy fit perfectly into a neoprene camera filter holder that is designed to clip to a camera strap. This works well, if I’m walking I clip it to my pack strap, if I’m on my bike it attaches to my camera strap. So wherever I go the monkey goes with me, and I always have a little bit of Arthur with me as well.
We have adopted the sock monkey as kind of a mascot for the 186 Miles Project and sock monkey things sometimes just appear or we find them in unusual places.
TC, February, 2018
(Note: I wanted to get this out on Arthur’s birthday, January 26, but I just found it too hard to do then. The black and white photographs were done in the style Arthur used for many of the photographs in his portfolio used in his application to a fine arts high school. His portfolio photographs will be put up on the website with this article.)