I wish I was a monkey like Michael Jackson

“Your spirit lives in everything you love, everything you give
your time to and everything else that attaches itself to you as a result.”

I
sometimes find myself wishing I was more like the former King of Pop Michael
Jackson, God bless his soul. Yes I know this is not something novel to hear
someone say, as every little boy at some stage wanted to be just like him
during his prime, when he was still more black than white. There can be no
doubt that the poor man lived a tortured existence which scarily played itself
out right in front of our eyes as we watched his face transform over the years
until he was hardly recognisable as the icon we all fell in love with during the
seventies, eighties and nineties. Almost all of my favourite African American comedians
including Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, Kat Williams, Steve Harvey and Earthquake
have had scathing words to say about Michael Jackson’s cheerless conversion
from beautiful talented superstar to a deranged emotionally troubled phantom of
the opera-ish freak of nature alleged to be in love with little boys. His decline
was as unbelievably hilarious as it was sadly disturbing.

Almost
all children, adolescents and adults that wanted to emulate him admired his
unique dance moves which were awe inspiring, transcendental and just plain
cool. Some even loved his unique dress sense with the tight pants that ended
just above the ankles exposing white socks, to the white glove, the sparkling
outfits, army style jackets and loud leather outfits (or was it pleather?). I on
the other hand was never really too amused by any of these, not that they weren’t
out of this world, but because there was another aspect of him that I was quite
fond of. Michael Jackson was the proud owner of a pet monkey that he named
Bubbles and for me that was the most amazingly radical thing about him – only
just edging out my admiration of the moon walk. I mean come on! What kid in
their right mind never wanted to own a pet monkey? I know I did and that is why
I found this so intriguing.

According
to Wikipedia, Michael adopted Bubbles from a Texas research facility in the
eighties and developed a really close bond with the animal that led to much
media mockery and a public perception of Michael as an eccentric. Michael indulged
the ape to all sorts of privileges such as sleeping in a crib in the singer’s
bedroom, using the singer’s toilet, eating candy in the Neverland theatre,
attending tea with a Japanese mayor and attending many other public functions
with the singer. Now as the story is told the poor ape seemed to develop just
as many emotional problems as its owner, as Bubbles was reported as having developed
into an aggressive adult chimpanzee unsuitable as an animal companion and was
taken away to a California animal sanctuary where he apparently attempted suicide.
From then on up until this day, after the singer’s death, he has been moved
around to many different sanctuaries apparently for his own sake and to somehow
try contain is uncontainable behaviour.

Now
whether Michael Jackson really was “a bizarre eccentric, obsessed with
recapturing his childhood” is not for me to judge, as far as I am concerned, to
each his own. What fascinates me about this story is the bond between man and
animal and how their lives became paralleled in the things that happened to
them. I bet that in the ape world Bubbles was just as much of a pariah condemned
to a life of ridicule because the means to a privileged and vastly different life
created a chasm that could never be bridged with his fellow apes. So just as
Michael came tumbling from a dizzy height so too did his pet ape that rather unfortunately
did not have much of a say in the whole process – just as a prepubescent
Michael could claim if you have ever heard or read anything about his father Jo
Jackson. But that is a discussion for another day.

I
am a firm believer that people are what they eat, what they think about and
what they ultimately attach themselves too. Whatever you spend large chunks of
your life doing or in contact with will inevitably become that which you are,
and this goes as far as owning and loving pets. That is why I believe that
people are very much like the very animals they choose to keep as pets. You often
hear of people being referred to as dog people or dog lovers and these are the
type of excitable people who seem constantly happy as if they themselves had
wagging tales no different from the canines they love. Then you hear of cat
people or cat lovers who are almost the opposite in their stylish, reserved
nature who may not have nine lives like the felines they so love but do have at
least nine personality disorders throbbing just below the veneer of coolness.

Now
in my life I have been exposed to many different kinds of pets from dogs, cats,
canaries, goldfish, rabbits, spiders and even scorpions. I often wonder what characteristics
I might share with these vastly different creatures. If I was Onke the Dog,
people might incorrectly assume I am a chauvinistic playboy with a dark past
filled with broken hearts. Or what about Onke the Cat, which might make people
think I am a rotund cross dressing gay lord of an underground sex club for men
(not too unlike the highly unlikeable Perez Hilton). Onke the Canary sounds
almost correct considering that as the last born in my family I used to always
tattle tales on my two older siblings at any opportunity that I got. Onke the
Goldfish is also one I quite like even though it makes me sound like a Jew
bookie with a strong Liverpool accent from a Guy Ritchie movie, while Onke the
Spider makes me sound like a dodgy one eyed pilferer from a Ken Follet novel.

Onke
the Scorpion has a nice ring to it, almost at once placing me in an epic
adventure movie like Lord of the Rings. However, being South African every time
I hear scorpion I cannot help but thing of Bulelani Ngcuka and the disbanded
former police investigative unit of the same name or even the security company
of the same name. This then leads to me thinking about how Trevor Noah the
comedian would ridicule me as Onke the Scorpion speaking English in a heavily African
accented voice and mispronouncing words and constantly saying “Ja, ja” and “heh,
heh?” Oh the joys of being proudly South African.

Onke
the Monkey would have to be the title I most desire even though I have never
owned a monkey and therefore never been afforded the opportunity to see what
characteristics we could share. I have always been fascinated by the word
monkey since my name is in the middle of it (m-ONKE-y), and it is the main
reason I used APE as my graffiti name (monkey was just too long to spray paint
on walls in the dark urban city centre without being spotted by a passing car
before finishing). Of course my name also lies in the middle of donkey
(d-ONKE-y) and I just as easily could have used the graffiti name ASS, but
fortunately good reason prevailed. So this is the closest I have come to
expressing my wish of being a monkey like Michael Jackson. Maybe it isn’t too
late for me and I will yet own a monkey or feel like an absolute ass when I don’t
get the opportunity. Either way I would have expressed the human condition
through a unique experience and that would have been worth it…

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