Sorry for the hiatus. In all of my searching for things to do (and the accompanying vow to write about them), I managed to find too many things to do. I re-joined the church choir I loved so much in high school. I’ve been spending a lot (a LOT) of time with the speech team. I spend a lot of time with my Grandmother. I make donation trips to Goodwill like it’s my job. (Goodbye, college/law school dishes! You were always too heavy, but it’s been nice getting to know you. Goodbye, best-but-ugliest-toaster-ever! Someone will take you home, love you, and you shall make them perfectly browned english muffins!) I’m meticulously picking out good gifts this year to make up for my usual last-minute ones (you like pajama pants, riiiight? I’ll …get you some of those! At the sale! After Christmas!). Apologies go out to my sister, a great gift-giver.
I’m also continuously shopping for furniture that one can bear to both sit on AND look at — this is much more difficult than it sounds.
(OK, maaaaaybe I’m also watching a lot of How I Met Your Mother when I should be writing, but Neil Patrick Harris makes my life. LEGEND — wait for it…)
One of my favorite people, B, loves HIMYM. One evening, in an attempt to get me to watch it, he beamed and said “it’s a group of good friends doing fun things, trying to make it in life.” (Luckily, B is a lawyer and not a salesman.)
If you watch the show, you know that NPH’s character Barney often tells folks to “SUIT UP!” Men, women, children; it makes no difference. “Suit up” is the universal request for readiness for the night ahead. For ridiculousness. For life.
I told one of my speech girls to “suit up” this week.
I’ve been coaching for a few months now, and I’m happy that I’ve developed enough rapport with them to do the things I used to do as a competitor. (And to tell them to SUIT UP!)
One memorable speech tradition is the monkey. It’s a mid-sized, stuffed toy officially named “Congo” (according to its tag), but it’s always just been… the monkey.
The speech monkey, that is.
The monkey was given to me by my good friend S as a gift before a high school theater production. After deciding that it was good luck (and because we really dug that song “If I Had a Million Dollars,” in which the Barenaked Ladies promise to “buy you a monkey… haven’t you always wanted a monkey?”), it made the trip from tournament to tournament in my bag.
After a while, it became a thing of sorts to rub the monkey for good luck. To take pictures with the monkey. To do inappropriate things with the poor stuffed creature behind my back.
There is a picture of the monkey at my 16th Birthday holding a $50 bill, some lottery tickets, and a first place trophy (not my own; I wasn’t that lucky that year).
Taken that same day, one of our friend M jokingly trying to light the monkey on fire.
Another of my speech coach holding the monkey.
One of a piece of paper unknowingly attached to that coach’s backside. …The paper of course bears a photo copy of the aforementioned picture of the speech coach holding the monkey. Kind of like the Colbert portrait where Colbert’s portrait is in the background. And so on… and so on…
There’s also one where one of our more colorful friends licks the monkey. (I think there’s supposed to be some joke that I write here about licking a monkey; you can just fill that in yourselves.)
On my “good luck” notecard before the national qualifying tournament, my coach wrote only one line:
“Uh… would ya like to buy a monkey?”
(It’s apparently some sort of Letterman reference.)
By the end of my four years on the team, I’d amassed an entire album of pictures of team members with the monkey.
So as I packed my bag for the tournament last weekend, I grabbed my stuffed good luck charm and threw him in my bag. Instead of oatmeal pies and scratch pads, I now carry binders and stopwatches. But I thought that maybe, just maybe, they’d take a liking to that damn monkey.
I showed the team my album of pictures, and tossed the monkey to a student. It made its way around the cafeteria table in much the same way it had before.
Monkey on the head.
Soon after, I had a new batch of pictures. And while the faces are different, all of the important things are the same. The pictures all tell the same story.
It’s a group of good friends doing fun things, trying to make it in life.