Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What NOT to do if you're attacked by monkeys

A photo from another, more innocent day,
 when I still considered monkeys cute
rather than menacing...
So there I was, walking down the hill on a Friday night, quitin' time. Down the 121 steps from my office at the seminary, down the winding road past To Fung Shan, past the circle intersection, and just passing the cemetery, when I saw one solitary monkey on a papaya tree. 
Then I saw two or three, maybe a dozen. 

I'm cool with that. I'm not new to monkeys on my walk home. I avert my eyes (everybody knows you shouldn't look a monkey right in the eyes, right?).  I really didn't think a thing of it.  In fact, I was talking on my cell phone with Wayne, discussing the ever important question of what we were going to have for dinner.

I hear screaming behind me.  I turn around to look, and it's a big monkey screaming at me! Coming at me!

I turn around again, and there are monkeys pouring onto the road. There are monkeys overhead on the trees. They are all, inexplicably, looking at ME!

I try the aggressive dog thing where I stop and say "No!" firmly.  Well, maybe not so firmly.  Maybe it came out more like a "Noooooooo!" 

Then I could see some big daddy monkeys coming at me.  Monkeys big and small coming at me, dozens and dozens of them. Then I could see a bunch of angry, red, open mouths with glistening teeth coming at me.  And then I did exactly what you should NOT do if you're attacked by monkeys:

"But whatever you do, don't freak out; those who scream, wave their arms, and run away are only going to make the macaques even more aggressive."*

I freaked out, I screamed, I waved my arms, and I ran full speed down the length of the cemetery, and around the corner, where, thank GOD, they did not pursue me.

(Not another human being in sight, by the way.  I'm in Hong Kong for Pete's sake, and not one other human being in sight, nor - since no one came to my aid - within sound)

Okay, so I wasn't mauled, I wasn't bitten, they didn't actually touch me, just came close enough with those nasty looking teeth, to feed another several decades worth of nightmares. My throat was a bit sore from the screaming, but that was the physical extent of it.

It turns out Wayne heard the whole thing (he was on the cell phone, remember?) and guess what, this is how much he loves me, he rose up from his table at McDonalds (McDonalds? That's where you were???) leaving his almost untouched burger behind, and started running to rescue me!!

After I got home I invited my neighbors over and we had an impromptu "Escape the Mad Monkeys" wine and cheese and board game party, and I WON at the board game.

So all's well that ends well, and yes, I've gone down the hill again this week, alone, and not a monkey in sight.  But if I DO see some more  monkeys and one comes screaming at me, I'm going to do the 

"...the open-mouth threat. Basically, form an "O" with your mouth, lean toward them with your body and head, and raise your eyebrows."

And maybe I'll also follow the advice of most of our international students here -- and carry a big stick.

To read the whole article from where I culled those bits of highlighted info, check out the 2007 Slate article by Michelle Tsai on How to Fight Monkeys (big thanks to New Testament visiting professor and friendly, sympathetic neighbor Dr. Robin Mattison for researching and finding that article for all of us for future reference!)

So, watch out for monkeys, and if a great big troop of mad monkeys does come at you, please do not freak out.  But even if you do, be sure to have a party to celebrate the great escape afterwards.
The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.
 The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
 Return to your rest, my soul,    for the Lord has been good to you.  Psalm 116:5-7

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