Laying Track

At some point over the weekend, I said to myself, “I’ve got to get back on track.” Maybe it was the open sleeve of Trefoils in my hand that I was double fisting into my mouth. Maybe it was the complete lack of energy I had for anything I needed to be doing. But that voice in my head said, “Get back on track.” And then another voice corrected that first voice.

“You can’t get back on track if you were never on track in the first place.”
Touché.

You have to lay track to be on the track.
The bad news is, I never laid the track. The good news is that I usually realize this in February and quit until the following year. This year, in February, I’m just going to lay some track and go on my merry way.

I was talking about it later with Todd. Brady, Lucy, and Jenna were all in room participating in the conversation. I was talking to Todd about my goals and why I believe I’ve failed at them for, oh, a decade. Within the last 2 years, he got healthy and has stayed healthy. I didn’t jump on his track while he was laying it. I just watched from the banks with a trail of Smarties wrappers at my feet and cheered him on. Good job, babe. Way to go.

Shoot.

During our conversation yesterday, he started talking about the voice in his own head and how he used it to meet his goals.

“You know what I’m talking about, don’t you, Brady?” He asked at one point. In ways, they are the same person. Brady laughed and said,

“I know what you’re talking about.”

Todd’s inner voice helps him meet goals.
Brady’s makes internal snarky remarks. About everything.
Mine waits for the other people to leave the house and tells me to go grab the box of Trefoils.

Lucy raised her eyebrows at all of this and said,

“I don’t have voices in my head.”

She probably doesn’t.

At any rate, I talked a big game about Discipline being the word of the year and then didn’t have enough of it to make the actual plan. I emphasized controlled and habitual and then didn’t control a thing or form a single habit.

It’s amazing how much sugar I’ve had since I dropped sugar.

I have been writing more. I set a Monday-Friday goal and have met that consistently with a few misses when sickness or holidays jammed their thumbs in my business.

So now what? What’s my plan? How do I lay the track?

For one thing, I have to have accountability. Real accountability. Having some person in cyberspace to text about my diet doesn’t work. Telling the kids to keep me accountable hasn’t worked yet. Because they are all out of the house for 7 hours every day. Girl, I can do some damage in that 7 hours. Dropping sugar doesn’t work if I don’t replace it with something better.

The habitual part has suffered greatly, so yesterday I started laying the track.

  • Track 1– Make a meal plan for the week, complete with ingredients and shopping list. I made the entire week’s meal plan yesterday. There are probably people reading this who can’t believe a week’s meal plan would be a challenge for someone. It is for me. It’s the BIGGEST problem. I don’t think that way. I hate grocery stores. But planning on Sunday for the next two weeks is what is needed. So I’m holding myself to it. So far, so good.
  • Track 2 – Drop Diet Mountain Dew. It makes me want sweets and it keeps me from drinking water. I’m using my new Adidas water bottle to encourage the better habit. I’m likely to be quite grumpy for awhile. Maybe my posts will take on an angry tone. Or be about starvation.
  • Track 3 – Buy a bike. I love biking more than any other exercise.
  • Track 4 – Get a personal trainer. The only one I can really afford is unemployed, doesn’t have a resume, and is only 11. I don’t know if she’s any good. I’m her first client. But she’s already got a notebook she’s writing in about me and she made me promise to walk or run with her today, after 3 p.m. Not before. After. I kinda think I’ll like her. She’s perky.
  • Track 5 – Supplies. The fridge is full of yogurt, fruit, and healthier options. The girl scout cookies are hidden in Andrew’s room. He’s very pleased with this new turn of events.
  • Track 6 – Mindfulness. No more fistfuls of anything when I’m not really hungry. Log everything. Make it count.
  • Track 7 – Daily Lists. I love lists. At worst, they give me a false sense of accomplishment. At best, they help produce actual accomplishment.
  • Track 8 – Do the first things first. That includes the hateables. Don’t sit down and spend 90 minutes writing if dinner isn’t planned or prepped and it still looks like a bomb went off from breakfast. Make the daily deposits on exercise, housework, goals, and laundry. Then write. Smarties are not a reward. Diet Mountain Dew is still off the table.
  • Track 9 – Accept agony. This one is Todd’s. For ten years, I’ve been trying to find the easy way to do this. Somehow if I tweak enough things, I will make it fun. Easy. It’s going to be hard for at least a little bit. I accept this. I hope.
  • Track 10 – Lay new tracks as you see them. Readjust when necessary. Never quit.

Well, that’s 10 tracks. That ought to propel my train about 20 feet forward and get me safely to March 10.

The good news is now I have track laid. The bad news is I have a caffeine headache bigger than my to do list.

My trainer, with her unicorn.




The Chair that Wasn’t

Clearly I don’t have a problem embarrassing myself. I’ve spent a long lifetime becoming familiar, even comfortable, with a vibe of humiliation. I’ve worn my Dork like a badge of honor.

But I like to control how it goes down.

I tell the stories like I want to tell them. I laugh at myself when I think it’s worth laughing about. I like to control the release of my Dork and the intensity of the embarrassment that follows. When I lose control of either or both, all the pretty sheen wears away and the world is left with the nasty, corrosive interior of a cold, dead soul.

Don’t mess with me. Just let me do it my way.

One spring Friday night in 1996, we arranged to meet our core group of friends at our favorite restaurant, Vallarta’s. None of us had kids. It was just adult friends who had been hanging out since college. We had a table for 8 and wandered in slowly, following the hombre with the menus. It took them a moment to set the menus out and put chips on the table. When everything was set, we all went to a place at the table and sat down. In our chairs.

Everyone but me.

I did something a little different with this mundane exercise. I don’t know what went wrong but something desperately, dreadfully did. I went to sit down in my chair, same as everyone else had. We all had chairs. We had all been sitting in chairs our whole lives. And like my friends, I committed to this action with grace and comfort and 100% of my energy.

I sat.
Down.
Hard.
But not on a chair. Because I had no chair. I don’t know where my chair was. Definitely not where it should have been. Not where I predicted it to be. So all of my commitment to this rote activity went straight to the floor. I fell down 100% onto my tailbone on one square foot of the indoor/outdoor carpeted floor of that Mexican restaurant. I did not fall halfway. I fell all the way down.
So hard.

That was bad enough.
Nobody missed that it happened. It doesn’t escape general notice when a 26-year-old woman falls down flat on her butt in the middle of a Friday night crowd. What happened next is what has launched this incident into eternal infamy in our core group of friends. I did not just get up quickly and quietly, locate my chair, and sit in it.

I assumed.
And you know what you do when you assume.

From my spot on my butt on the floor, I shouted out in a voice the entire restaurant heard, in three syllables and three separate musical notes “TODD!” It was a one-word lawsuit. A straight-up accusation. Right there, from the floor, I could not accept that I was stupid. That I was blind. That I had, like a person with zero functioning faculties, missed my chair with gusto and fallen without breaking that fall with anything. And because it COULD NOT have been my own stupid fault, I jumped to the only logical conclusion that existed in my mind: Todd pulled my chair out from under me as a joke.

Who does that?

No one beyond the age of 19 would do such a thing. None of the friends I was with that night would have sunk so low. Certainly not my own husband.

Goodness.

So not only was I on the floor, I had shamelessly and falsely and loudly attacked my poor, dear husband in front of everyone. How do you recover from that?

The answer is, you don’t. Not ever. It rears its ugly head multiple times over the course of 23 years and you have to ” ha ha” choke your way through someone’s retelling of that story. Again.

Last night, due to complicated family schedules, we found ourselves eating a quick family dinner at Hibachi Express. As Todd scurried around getting us forks and napkins and the kids were getting their drinks, my mind rushed to that night in Vallarta’s in 1996. I don’t know what triggered it but the memory played back behind my eyelids like a movie.

“Hey, I’m sorry about that night in Vallarta’s,” I said to Todd, casually. Nonchalantly. He almost spit out his drink laughing. And then the kids wanted to know what we were referring to.

So I told the story. With some commentary from him. The kids could not have loved it more. They loved it too much. It’s my story now, people. I control the embarrassment and the guilt of an apology that was 23 years overdue. And I’ve since learned to control the way I sit down. Salsa goes down smoother in a chair. Who knew.


The Styrofoam Cooler

It all started with five pats of butter; my awareness that we were not like everybody else.
I liked toast. I had simple tastes. But I wasn’t a robot. I liked butter on my toast. My mother would help me make the toast when I was younger, beginning with the toaster that burned our kitchen down. When the toast was done and sitting expectantly on a plate, Mom would reach for the butter from the fridge. With an actual butter knife, she placed five pats of butter on that dry piece of bread. One pat in each corner and a tiny one in the middle. I don’t know when it dawned on me to question this ritual. But one random day as I was watching those five tiny butter blobs melt into only a 6th of my toast, I wished for more. I wished for a slather. I wished my toast could take a bath in that butter. Jump into the deep end. Put it on like a down jacket.

I think I even asked about it. The answer was no. We are five-pat-butter-people. We don’t slather. That stick of butter would take us all the way to high school graduation.

Other clues in the puzzle came in the form of 4 inches of bath water. We filled our tubs with 4 inches. Not an inch more. When you sat your naked self down in the water, you displaced 2 or 3 more, giving the illusion of maybe 7 inches of warm water. I think I was a married adult before I realized that some people fill the tub UP with hot water. All the way up to that second little drain that I didn’t know existed. I thought that thing was cosmetic until I was 25.

Then there was the cardboard box sled. We all know how that went. I mean.
Disposable silverware that wasn’t ever disposed of. Always washed, stored in a gallon size ziplock, and reused.
Styrofoam ice chests with pimento cheese sandwiches and rest area picnics on long road trips.
Putting $2 worth of gas in our tank, only to drive a few miles down the road to fill up where the gas was cheaper.
Guess Jeans? Please. Jordache? If you don’t get six pats of butter, you aren’t getting Jordache.

My parents were frugal. And I get it. They were children of the depression. Well, not exactly. Maybe a little. According to my mom, my dad wasn’t raised that way. We can’t even trace his back to anything.

I grew up on a nice street in Tallahassee, FL. There were two doctors and a lawyer within a child’s stone throw of my own yard. It was a nice street. I’m told it was a stretch when we bought it, but a stretch my parents gladly made without regret. What we suffered in mortgage payments, we saved on butter blobs and air conditioning. In the summertime, daytime temperatures were in the 90s, depending on whatever front was passing through. At night, it was a humid 78. We ran our AC. In the daytime. We did not run our AC at night. Almost never. Most summer nights, after darkness settled in hues of navy and gray, my mom would walk through our bedrooms and open the windows. I would watch that process like the buttering of the toast and sigh in my soul as the window unstuck itself with a groan and opened to the stale night air under duress. There was never a discussion about this. We didn’t pay the electric bills. We didn’t make electric bill decisions. But two or three times a summer, on rare occasions of extreme heat, Mom would walk through again and lower the window. And my eyes would brighten as I heard the AC kick on for the night. This was going to be a sleep to remember. I was going to get to wear clothes. And use sheets. I don’t know if there was a set of parameters or a temperature chart in place that prompted those few closed-window nights. I just knew it made me happy. And cool.

The week of Christmas, 2008, the Snapp in me collided with the White in them on a joint vacation to Gatlinburg. I knew what I was getting into with that trip. It’s not like I didn’t know. And yet, somehow I didn’t know. Somehow I entered surprising new territory. Or saw the same old territory with fresh eyes. That old white Styrofoam ice chest was a key player in the trip that week. When it wasn’t squeaking, it was somehow dictating our meals, our leftovers, or our next 30 minutes. Don’t ask me how an ice chest can have that kind of power. I don’t have a real answer to that question. Except that my mother gave it that power.

After 6 days of crowds, events, activities, and mishaps that I could write entire chapters about, that week came down to an early morning mad dash to pack up and go home. Besides packing our own bags and having them sitting by the front door, we each had a couple of community tasks to get the house ready to leave. Oddly enough, Todd and I were assigned Cooler Duty. And no one was supervising our methods or our progress. The whole thing was laced with irony. I crouched down in the tiny dim-lit kitchen and looked up at my mother, who delivered the instructions without fanfare or room for interpretation. She opened the refrigerator and waved her arm over the contents.

“This is the stuff we are taking home,” she said. “Make it fit.”

She walked away before my eyes took their fullest shape of shock. She didn’t see me questioning. She also didn’t see Todd and I look at each other. There was a manifesto in that one glance. But she didn’t read it, so we got to work. For about 36 seconds, we tried to make some Tetris magic and find creative ways to stuff that refrigerator into that cooler. We were still thinking about this when I heard my mom call out from the hall bathroom, “Make sure you get the hot dogs.” I looked at Todd again. Oh, the hot dogs. I had a mostly empty jug of milk in my left hand and a gallon sized baggie of browning iceberg lettuce in my right. I could have killed a homeless man with what I held in my hands that moment. The hot dogs were still sitting in a bag on a refrigerator shelf.

Nothing was fitting.
My mom had gotten caught up in another task.
The trash can was  a duck waddle away. Todd and I had the same thought at the same moment. I grabbed the trash can and before either of us could say “leftover hot dogs” we were chucking food into the trash with wild abandon. We had to be careful and place the food we were trashing under dirty paper towels or discarded paper plates. We had to be covert. No one could know. If our methods were discovered before we were firmly down the mountain, we’d lose our jobs and those hot dogs would be buckled into an air conditioned bucket seat of somebody’s van.

When it was all over, there was enough spare room inside that cooler to host a small dinner party. I think we even got praised for that. It really was our finest hour.

But 12 hours later, we pulled into our driveway with my parents in tow. And because we had some things in the cooler, too, that cooler came out of the back of the van with the rest of our luggage. My dad plopped it onto our kitchen counter and my mom opened it up for the first time since Todd’s and my little heist that morning. My mom put the lid aside and peered into the contents of the cooler. Her eyes darkened with confusion. Then she began moving things around. Finally, she looked over at me.

“So, where are the hot dogs?”

I made a little face that brought out all the bones in my neck and replied,

“Um, did you check under the butter?”

Indeed.

a day is as it is lived

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
So they say.
I’ve seen some babies that I had to wonder about. We’ve all seen me from the 3rd grade on. Sometimes beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And sometimes beauty just is. Or isn’t.

But the eye of the beholder is awfully important.

Because I hadn’t read the 20 books I purchased with Amazon money at Christmas, it only stood to reason that I should buy a new book. Now my stack is one higher. But I don’t regret buying this one. It is changing how my eye beholds. The book is called “The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir” by Katrina Kenison. Put simply, it is a mother writing about her journey to loosen her grip on her changing family and to be okay with the changes and her lack of control over them. When she wrote the book, her boys were in high school, one a senior. She knew she was standing on the edge of a shifting landscape and she was trying to find her footing. In searching for hers, she has helped countless others find theirs. But she doesn’t find THE ANSWER and then provide readers with it. She comes to terms with the fact that there is constant change and no one right answer. There is no arrival at a plush resort where you can prop up your feet and read a welcome note from the universe that says: “You did it. You got there. Good job.”
There is just the journey. Just this day.

I have read quite a bit of the book already and will likely reference it more than once as the days pass. If you are on the brink of children leaving your nest, I recommend it. If they have left already, I still recommend it.

In contrast to this book, I received a blog by Sean Dietrich in my inbox this morning that got me thinking. Often I read his late night posts at 5:46 a.m. when my alarm has gone off but I’m not ready to swing my legs over the side of the bed quite yet. Sometimes I snooze too long and have to skip the posts altogether. This morning, I’m glad I read it because it got me thinking about the value in a single day. Sean wished the world a good day. He said, “So wherever you are, I wish you the best day you ever had. Ever. I really mean it. I hope the weather is bright, sunny, and warm. I hope someone you haven’t heard from in years calls you unexpectedly. There is nothing easy about the business of living. This is why I hope you have a good day. A perfect day, even. The best you’ve ever had.”

I know what he meant by that. I know what he was getting at. And yet, that hit me so funny. Like knocking my elbow hard on the corner of a table and then seeing black gauze for the next 10 minutes. How many of us are going to have a perfect day today? The best one ever? I would guess no one. Not a single one of us. The Midwest and northeast is experiencing flash flood warnings, winter storm conditions, and heavy snow. They haven’t seen the sun since late October. I would bet there are only 6 states in the U.S. that have any hope of warm, sunny weather, mine being one of those 6. Someone I haven’t heard from in years is not going to call me unexpectedly. My texts today consisted of having one child rat out another one for his driving with the ending line, “Don’t tell him I told you.” I also heard from my Shipt shopper, who does not know what a pepperoncini pepper is. He didn’t save me any trouble at all, because I still have to go back to the store for the two things he got wrong.

Other than those things, my phone has been silent.

This afternoon, my oldest son will come home and nod as he walks through the family room to his own room. He will later ask me what’s for dinner and offer a one word response to the menu.. If I ask him how school was, he’ll say, “Good.” And that will be it. I won’t see my second born until much later, after band is over. He doesn’t talk a lot these days, either. The girls will have plenty to say, much of it sandwiched in and around requests or complaints that I can’t do much to affect.

They won’t ask me about my day. They won’t ask me to read them a story. If I asked them about a story, they would squint at me. My youngest, who’s 11, would probably comply.

My point is not that things are bad now. I don’t feel that way about it. But they are different. Vastly different. My children are not the same people they were 5 years ago. We are not the same family we were when the boys listened to me read Little House in the Big Woods. Before iPods and cell phones. I look at the picture from this post of my young boys running down a Colorado hillside wearing baggy clothes and off brand shoes and I wonder where those boys went. I could wish for 10 minutes of that back. It does make me ache a little. But that’s not productive or rational thinking. They didn’t disappear anymore than I did. It’s just change. Growth. A moving into the Now What.

I have struggled all along with trying to manufacture that perfect day Sean wished me. If I just do this, then this will be the result. If A, then B. But that isn’t how it works. “A” flies up and hits you in the eyeball and “B” is a kick in the pantaloons. Kids grow. Parents make mistakes. TV sings its siren songs. Friends rise in importance. Likes and dislikes shift. Storms happen. Sideview mirrors hit trees. People get the flu right before out-of-town trips.

If I looked to have a perfect day, I’d be a Grade A Wreck by 8 p.m.

Today isn’t going to be the perfect day. Neither is tomorrow. The trick for me is to find a peaceful place to stand in an imperfect landscape.
To enjoy the short spurts of conversations, instead of wishing for an hour of soul sharing.
To just be content in this day, with these people, in these shoes that I’m wearing.
Right here.
Right now.

Katrina Kenison says: “Life is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. It is an exploration, sometimes treacherous and terrifying. And sometimes the only way to move forward is to let go of all our cherished ideas about the way things “ought” to be, so that we can begin to work with things as they are.”

So, yeah. The beholder of beauty and the liver of a day cannot be under- emphasized. I was not a conventionally beautiful child, but my mother looked at my 4th grade afro and dress with the turtles on the collar and thought she was seeing something pretty special. So while there’s some people that don’t need a merciful beholder to be beautiful, most of us do. And some days are borderline perfect when all the planets and hormones and day planners and weather systems align. But most days fall far short of that and need just to be lived well for what they are.

All any of us really need is a heart that can handle whatever an imperfect day hurls at us. There is no way that life ought to be. There is only what is. How I choose to feel about that and what I do with it today is up to me.

Fridays are for Foto Fiascos

My mother, bless her heart, was a terrible photographer. The worst. I could prove this in front of a jury in a court of law. I have albums full of evidence. On Fridays, for at least a few weeks, I’ll be posting the worst of the worst from Mom’s albums.

Our first Foto Fiasco comes straight from a 1980 album page. It is a typical scene. There are many just like it. It is my brother and I posing atop someone’s final resting place. We didn’t do this by choice. We were directed. Sit there. Back to back. Smile. Look alive.

So irreverent.

In this particular photo, the real star of the show is Mom’s index finger. Our heads are not there. The words on the gravestone/monument are not legible. This is a picture of stone and knee caps.

In 1980, nothing was digital, obviously. You took pictures blindly on a tiny little point and shoot loaded with 110 film. Then, when your roll was complete, you dropped the film off to Eckerd Drugs and went back a couple of days later. Most people, upon seeing the picture of finger and knee caps, would have found the nearest trash can and tossed it in before walking out of the store. Not my mom. She put it in a prominent place in the album and proudly displayed it for 37 years.

Happy Friday.

True Love

This is the day Hallmark lives for. I used to live for Hallmark until Todd ruined it for me. Now I find myself rewriting bad dialogue in my head when the movies are playing out in front of me. Don’t get me wrong. I still watch. Just not as often or as freely. Now instead of watching with pure, unadulterated joy, it’s like sitting through a movie next to a person with bad gas. It taints the experience, for sure.

My first Valentine’s Day with Todd was altered by the death of my beloved grandmother in Tallahassee. We had plans to go up together the very weekend she died. We were in college in Tampa. She was in the hospital in Tallahassee. She was supposed to recover. They said she would recover. But she had a vain streak and didn’t want people seeing her not looking her best. She didn’t like the idea of me bringing Todd to meet her in the hospital. I was going to anyway. And so she died. By the Transitive Property in math (If a=b and b=c then a=c), I killed my grandmother.

Not really.
I hope.
But she did go out on her own terms. And she died 3 days before we could see her not looking her best.

So instead of us driving up for Todd to meet my very sweet grandmother, I climbed into the backseat of a Lincoln Towncar with my mom’s parents and drove to Tallahassee for the funeral. I was sad. I was terribly unprepared to let her go, because she was always my favorite. She was my beach grandmother. The grandmother that scolded my parents for cutting my long curls into an afro and for making me bail boats in lightning storms. The grandmother who thought bushy eyebrows were the bomb and was probably the reason I didn’t realize mine needed work until the year 2000. The grandmother who needed help crossing the creek in her “clamdiggers” as she slowly made her way down the beach to see her best friend, Aunt Catherine. The grandmother with the short, fat Christmas trees and the same old ornaments–some of them made of cardboard. The grandmother with a jar of full sized candy bars in her kitchen and cold glass-bottled cokes in her fridge. The grandmother whose snores were the stuff of nightmares, but who taught me to sleep through anything.

The grandmother who loved unconditionally and who always had time.

I think about her often. I even found her wallet and social security card in a box in my attic recently. I think about how much she would have loved her great-grandchildren. She would have reveled in the liveliness that trails behind her legacy. She would have adored that the second cousins know each other and get together when we can.

She would have loved my girls. I grew up always wanting a sister. Doesn’t every girl want a sister? I didn’t get that growing up, but I got the second best thing to it. I got to bring sisters into the world and watch them walk the occasionally dark path together, neither one willing to let the other stumble. Even though Lucy often says to me in exasperation, “Jenna is just the WORST person ever,” and at the time she truly means that. And even though Jenna has almost always done something the moment before that earns her that title, even then the love is undeniable. Two weeks ago, on the way home from school, Jenna looked at me and said, “I was thinking about Lucy today and I thought, I love her. I love her.” Right then and there, I got the sister I never had.

They fight. They give each other the stink eye. They each complain about the other. But they love. And I know that long after I’m gone, they’ll have each other. Not just on Hallmark days, but every day.

As much as I’d like life to play out like it does in Hallmark productions, it isn’t magical moments and bad dialogue. It isn’t throwing confetti when life is easy. Life is learning to love the sister who has injured you or the friend who just threw you under the bus or the spouse who doesn’t care anymore (general terms, people. Not my story). Love is action. And anyone can offer it, no matter the circumstance.

Maybe your Valentine’s Day included a death in the family and isn’t the holiday you envisioned. Maybe you don’t have a partner or a sister or a best friend. There’s always hope. There’s always someone who needs something. And in case you need a little extra help, Paul left a very simple, very bright formula to light the dark spaces of our lives.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

Even when someone is just the worst person ever.
Even then. Maybe especially then.
Happy Valentine’s Day.


Monkey See, Monkey Sue

The other night when three of us were so sick, I googled “drunk monkey” and then “monkey taking Nyquil.” One of those two searches brought up the image that I used in my post. It wasn’t my best work. Nyquil was masking the symptoms of death that had crept into my bloodstream and were slowly taking me over.

The next day, Todd texted me.

“Are you aware of the story behind that photo you used?” he asked.

Oh no. I was not aware. At the time I posted it, I wasn’t aware of virtually anything. But I was intrigued, so I did a little research.

The monkey in the photo was named Naruto by PETA. The photo was taken in Indonesia with equipment owned by nature photographer, David Slater. He had spent quite a bit of time following this family of monkeys around, but had been unsuccessful in taking photos up close of their faces. Every time he got close, they blinked. Or balked. The pictures were bad. So he taught them how to press the buttons themselves and then left his equipment in the jungle within their range.

It wasn’t long before curiosity took hold and–you know how monkeys are–they started pushing buttons. Soon he had a few selfies on his hands. Most of them were blurry or useless. A few of them were amazing. And he published them. Because it was his idea. His Equipment. His setup.

He sold the main photo and made a little petty cash. Then he published a few of them in a book he put out.

And then PETA came along and got mad. Because, in the name of Mary Todd Lincoln, NO ONE GOT THE MONKEY’S permission to print the photo. And the monkey received no extra bananas for her million dollar smile.

Where’s the justice in that?

Well, PETA will tell you. There was no justice in that. So they gave the monkey a name and named themselves Naruto’s “Next friend.” That meant that they could act on behalf of the monkey in his legal matters. And they filed a lawsuit against David Slater, the photographer, who couldn’t even afford the plane ticket to fly back to the states and represent himself. The case became known as the “Monkey Selfie Case,” or more officially, Naruto vs. Slater. Ridiculous.

Eventually, the court threw out the case and declared that animals could not hold copyright ownership. PETA appealed and in September of 2017, both PETA and Slater agreed to a settlement. Slater agreed to donate a portion of future revenues to the preservation of the endangered species, which, by the way, he was pretty much already doing. Ludicrous.

“In April 2018, the appeals court affirmed that animals can not legally hold copyrights and expressed concern that PETA’s motivations had been to promote their own interests rather than to protect the legal rights of animals.”

Utter insanity.

I find it a little funny that the photographer asserts that the male monkey of the lawsuit, Naruto, is not even the monkey in the contested photo. The photogenic monkey was an older female named nothing by nobody and she doesn’t have a lawyer. She’s off in the lush green trees of Indonesia enjoying the spoils of the American legal system.

And that’s what I get for googling drunk monkey.

PIC BY A WILD MONKEY / DAVID SLATER / CATERS NEWS – (PICTURED: One of the photos that the monkey took with Davids camera. 2 of 2: This photo was rotated and cropped by the photographer) – These are the chimp-ly marvellous images captured by a cheeky monkey after turning the tables on a photographer who left his camera unmanned. The inquisitive scamp playfully went to investigate the equipment before becoming fascinated with his own reflection in the lens. And it wasnt long before the crested black macaque hijacked the camera and started snapping away sending award-winning photographer David Slater bananas. David, from Coleford, Gloucestershire, was on a trip to a small national park north of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi when he met the incredibly friendly bunch. SEE CATERS COPY.