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Posted by Rob Sherwood Monday, 2010-May-17 14:16
There is something wonderful about being the shining knight on the big white horse. Some damsel of a radio station is in trouble and the call goes out to someone...anyone....to ride forth, lance in hand, to smite smite the black knight and gather unto your bosom those Arbitron-bearing peasants.
Several places in My Story I have tried to describe how fun it is to listen to a radio station, list the perceived deficiencies, and swoop in to make wholesale changes. I will tell you this; it's easier to fix than it is to begin from scratch. In the theater I've thought about it often. I've gone to in-execrable productions that would have been fixable. Replace a character here, improve a set design, spend some time with stage business and voila!...a mistake is a triumph. There's a show I watch often called Holmes On Homes. This Canadian guy fixes the mistakes of previous contractors. He takes a Yugo and turns it into a Mercedes. Wonderful fun.
All this comes to mind because I have decided I would like to have a "do-over". This is not to say I'm disappointed in my life, but if it is fun to do over a radio station, a stage production, or a Toronto bungalow, think how much fun it would be to fix up your life.
At the top of things to fix: Be nicer to chimpanzees.
I met my first chimp in Austin, Minnesota. I was doing the Uncle Rob Show on KMMT-TV and the chimp was part of a petting zoo, or exotic traveling show at the local county fair. It's easy to be up-staged by a chimp. The in-studio audience was enthralled, I was enthralled...come to think about it....I think the chimp was enthralled. When the interview was over, the hairy thing leaned over, patted my cheek, and planted a huge chimp-lipped kiss on my mouth. It was at that moment when I truly understood how people can fall in love with the 'inner-person' and that the out-ward appearance is only skin deep. Don't get ahead of yourself. I didn't want to breed little chimp-Robs. I just think in a long-term relationship, I could have talked to her and she would have understood me.
Jump ahead twenty years or so. I was a regular at the San Francisco Zoo before they made their animal-friendly-improvements. They had a big cement island with a chimp family in residence. A 30-foot moat separated them from the gawking humans. They hated me. Seriously. I would do nothing and they would see me and (as Eugene Cussins on Escape to Chimp Eden says) begin to display. Their fur would fluff up, they'd begin rocking side to side, and sooner rather than later, they start ripping pieces of bark and scraps of wood from the logs scattered about for playing. They'd throw things at me and I'd laugh like a fool and they screech and...display. When I was really feeling silly, I would rock back in forth in imitation and not only would the chimps toss things at me, and screech, but they'd dash nasty notes on their typewriters and beg for Valium. Well, one time all the noise attracted a huge crowd. My chimp intimidation was so subtle only I (and the animals) knew the cause. This was when a couple of the hairy beasts decided to up the ante. When they disappeared into their hut, my suspicions were aroused to the point that I moved from the front row ground zero to farther back in the crowd. I was right! These two chimps had gone inside to visit some chimp-loo and came out the door armed with monkey shit. Next thing you know the shit was flying, the audience was scattering in panic, and much to the credit of our simian cousins...direct hits were being scored.
It was at this point the zoo keepers arrived and lured the chimps away from public view. Worrying that they might be getting a description of the serial chimp-teaser, I moved away to tease the giraffes. The last I remember hearing were the sounds of a mother berating a father for abandoning the baby in the stroller to the chimp-shit-deluge. (She was wiping the baby's face with a tissue!)
So...another thing to fix. First, I would have been more realistic about my future with the County Fair chimp. What chance does anyone have for true love with a carnie. Next, I would realize, no matter how nice you are, not everyone is going to like you...so I would have spent more time with the lemurs and left the chimps alone. And finally, I would have sacrificed my own body to prevent the chimp-poop assault on that little baby, saving it from growing up, the child of divorce.
It would be nice to fix a few things.
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