Gorilla

gorillawhen i was a child, i had one of these. to kids that grew up in the 70’s, and retro movie buffs, they would recognize this as KING KONG. to mostly everyone else, they just see that this is one ugly mutha-effing thing. want to know what else? that sucker was A BANK! and not just a regular bank, oh no, it was twenty inches of hard sturdy thick plastic with NO WAY of getting money out once it was deposited.

so what is the importance of a messed up scary-looking, hard plastic impregnable KING KONG bank? welp. that nasty gorilla bank was my friend. Not only that, that there snarly beast was my ONLY friend and i loved him very very much. i had a terribly weird fascination for gorillas as a child, and i cant honestly say where it came from but i do know that it bordered on obsession. now, growing up in the 70’s it wasn’t as easy to overload kids on themes. we didn’t have Targets or entire lines of licensed kiddie stuff- it was you, your mom and whatever you could throw together from Hills or Kmart. so needless to say, i didn’t have much in the way of gorilla-themed bedding, but i did have that bank.
and a tshirt. and pictures cut out from books. yes, i said “books” and not “magazines.” (i sort of got into some trouble with the library and spent a few hours one weekend on punishment for a little problem i had with scissors.) i slept with this gorilla bank, carried him everywhere and played and fed him very much the way most girls did dollys, only, mine was a gorilla, and a bank.

the neighbors thought me odd. my friends teased me. my brother tormented me by hiding “Gorilla” in various places around the house and yard. my grandmother, however, made Gorilla a dress. it was sunshiney yellow and had ruffled sleeves. the fact that Gorilla was King Kong and a boy was unimportant. my gorilla had a beautiful dress. my grandma thankfully understood and eventually Gorilla had a fine crocheted hat, a watering can and a mini wheelbarrow that i randomly found in the trash (and by “found in the trash” i mean “stole from the neighbor kid’s sandbox.”)

Gorilla knew all of my secrets. he talked to me. we washed and ironed his dress (my mother was big on teaching domestic chores as play, so i learned ironing, sewing and even used a washboard early on in life.) Gorilla was my security, and even moved to three different houses with me. this hard plastic King Kong bank went everywhere, and even slept in bed with me. occasionally to annoy me, my brother would stick pennies in him, and i would spend hours shaking Gorilla upside down to try and get the change out of the narrow slot in the back of his head. it would NOT DO, to have him constantly rattling, so coins HAD to come out.

there is of course, no happy ending for Gorilla and Little Tee. during yet another move, to yet another house, Gorilla somehow got packed in with all of my stuffed animals; whether accidentally or on purpose due to my mother’s suspicion of my creepy love for him, is unclear. but he was packed. and packed away for a long time due to a very complicated move to a smaller house and in with my grandmother.

after so much time passing, Gorilla obviously felt abandoned and when finally located and unpacked clearly no longer loved me. this led to my brother filling him with pennies, and ultimately performing minor surgery on the bottom of his feet to remove the money he put in there. to my surprise, Gorilla contained about $3.14 worth of change by that time, including a dollar bill, which my brother promptly claimed as his own. after the removal of Gorilla’s feet (with a serrated bread knife from the kitchen,) he now had a very scratchy and poky scar at his base and now scraped the crap out of my arms, leaving him yet again abandoned on the side of my bed. eventually my mother tried to sell him for a quarter at a yard sale, but with no takers, Gorilla, dress and all was pitched into the trash and is probably under one billion layers of garbage in the land fill for the rest of eternity (i mean, he was made of REALLY THICK black plastic.)

he was a good gorilla, and a fine friend. i will always have to live with the guilt of abandoning him, and not even getting to keep the $3.14 in him that was rightfully mine. i’d like to believe that some child saw him in the trash, in his very fine dress, and rescued him from a garbagey grave. but i know better, he was King Kong for god sake. King Kong in a yellow dress and dreadfully ugly, not to mention SCARY AS HELL, all snarly fangs and blood-red mouth.

i can only hope that maybe, just maybe, he is near that leaky old coffee pot or plastic canvas tissue box my mom threw out too and he feels a little more like home, and a little less lonely. dearest Gorilla, i really am sorry that it’s thirty-some years later and you will be packed solid with crud forevermore, i never meant for it to end this way. R.I.P. Gorilla, you will be forever missed.

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