On the run

NEW JERSEY - "A fierce menagerie that included wolves, monkeys and 18 Bengal tigers…had fled their cages on a 73-acre private reserve…. By late Wednesday, a day after the hunt began, the authorities in this central Ohio city of 25,000 said they had killed or captured all but one of the animals, a monkey. It had not been seen all day, and officials believed that it might have been killed by one of the other animals…"

Lee Siegel, O Estado de S.Paulo

24 de junho de 2012 | 01h00

--New York Times, October 19, 2011

"At an afternoon news conference, the sheriff said that the danger had passed and that people could move around freely again, but that the monkey would probably be shot because it was believed to be carrying a herpes disease."

Leia Também

Em fuga

--CBS News, same day

They treat you like nothing all your life, feed you rancid meat and rotten bananas, let brainless tourists make "monkey faces" at you-if I ever had a relative who had a face like that, I'd do everyone a favor and kill myself-and then, the crowning insult, they accuse you of having herpes. I had one great love, a golden tamarind monkey named Lily, and believe me, she was clean as a whistle. 

That's what they do when they don't like you. They attack your reputation. In the wild, you don't like someone, you rip their throat out. Simple. And when you get down to it, civilized. No lies. No phony crap. No prolonged mental confusion or anguish. Zip. Over in a minute. Humans have to discredit you before they kill you. Even when people do something bad, they have to feel good about themselves.

Well, I don't have herpes and I wasn't murdered by one of my pals, either. We had a deal: once you're out, it's every animal for himself. You don't have to help anybody else, but you don't have to eat anybody, either. Plenty of garbage cans overflowing with food. Enough for the whole crew. I can't say I wasn't a little suspicious when one of the wolves offered to carry me on his back, but I said No thanks, and that was it-though I stuck to the tops of trees for a while after that. The great thing about being an animal is that you know a wolf when you see one.

I hid out in a back alley in Cincinnati, made my way south, then to New York, and after that down the east coast. Couldn't stay in New York too long. The squirrels were charging 200 walnuts a month for a single branch in Central Park. They wouldn't even take plain old peanuts. Walnuts only. I paid ten cashews a night for a week under a wilting bush in the Bronx and then cut out. Too competitive. You can't even get a seat at a neighborhood dumpster without a reservation. At first, I was terrified being on the run. I shook so much I could barely move. One afternoon I was dashing across a sidewalk in a suburb of St. Louis and ran right into a teenager. Imagine the scene: a 3-foot tall spider monkey wearing what he was able to could get his hands on: plaid short pants, an extra-large Detroit Lions T-shirt, a "Loving Las Vegas" baseball cap pulled down over my eyes, and golden ballet slippers. I bumped into the kid and thought it was all over for me. But he was so absorbed in the illuminated rectangle he was carrying in his hand that he looked down at me, said, "Excuse me," and kept walking. From that time on, whenever I saw an American teenager, I feared for the country's future, but not for my Own.

I fixed the wardrobe problem pretty quickly (though I hated to give up the Detroit Lions T-shirt). I found a flea-market in Jersey City and decked myself out in a sharp three-piece suit. Blue pinstripes. After that, life on the run was a lot different than I thought it would be. One evening I was making my way through some nice pineapple canapes sitting on a table in the backyard of a New York suburb when, all of a sudden, people began streaming into the yard for a garden party. I had no choice but to pretend to be one of the guests. It wasn't long before I learned what to do. When the subject was politics, I gnashed my teeth. When it was culture, I smiled warmly. When it was about another person at the party, I nodded knowingly. No one seemed to care at all that a monkey was a guest at their party until someone asked me where I lived and I unwittingly gestured in the direction of a less affluent part of town. Someone screamed, "He's a monkey!" and I had to run for my life. 

Being on the run in America is a revelation, let me tell you. I've been asked to run for president by both Democrats and Republicans; invited to appear in an advertisement for Nike ("Nike: The Fugitive's Choice"); and was briefly made the star of a local reality show ("Knuckles and Toes"). Currently, I'm writing a memoir and doing a weekly column for the Washington Post. I take one drug for depression, one for anxiety, one for hysteria, and two for anger.

Lily, I miss you.

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