You Ordered What?!?

Earlier, I wrote an item about Mickey Jones – someone for whom I have great respect. Today, I’ll be touching on someone/something that deserves ZERO respect. He is small, furry and is actually played by a female named Katie.

But first… Everybody is talking about Friends recently as the show celebrated the 25th anniversary of its premiere & its departure from Netflix. What has become painfully clear is that Friends is a polarizing program. It seems to be very divisive. Love it or hate it – there’s no room for “I kinda liked it” or “I liked some of them”. I will go on record as being a fan. The show premiered right after I finished college and moved cross country. On my own for the first time, I watched and reminisced about the friendships I had left behind and was longing to start in my new home.

However, there was one thing about the first season that I could not stand and I’m pretty sure most people are in agreement here. Marcel – the damn monkey. Just its presence raised so many questions: “Has it had all of its shots?” “Where did he come from?” “Why didn’t Ross just get a cat?”

Marcel & Ross from Friends
The love of a man for his monkey is…. a bit strange.

That last one is my focus for today. Apparently, not that long ago, it was pretty easy to get a monkey or many other kinds of wild creatures. I’ve been reading a lot of old comic books recently and I keep seeing these ads for multiple animal breeds available through mail order. Yes, mail order.

monkey comic book ad with lollipop
Lollipops not included
Monkey comic book ad w jacket
Does he come with the little jacket?

For only twenty bucks, you got everything: cage, collar, leash, toy and, of course, the monkey itself. All you needed to supply was a hand-cranked music box and you had yourself a successful career as an organ grinder.

A study revealed that from 1968-1972, more than 173,000 monkeys were imported to the United States – mostly from South America. So many, in fact, that laws had to be created to control the US monkey population. Most were spider monkeys but others, including the Marcel-like Capuchin, came in as well.

Unfortunately, as many stories online will attest, monkeys don’t necessarily make the best pets. They would often arrive in a small cage the size of a shoe box. And once they had any opportunity, the monkeys would spring forth like the evils attributed to Pandora, wreaking havoc on wherever they were. First of all, they had often been packed up in their tiny boxes for who-knows-how-long. And apparently, monkeys are smart enough to know not to defecate in a small, enclosed space. However, when the tiniest of openings appeared (often when someone took pity on them and opened the box “just a bit” for food or water), the monkey would leap from its confinement.

Often times, the first thing it would do is leap for the highest point possible: top of the fridge, the chandelier, freakishly-tall Aunt Judy’s head. And as they flew across the room doing their best Tarzan impression, they would often… How do we say this delicately? Have you ever been stuck in traffic for a really long time and realized you never should have finished off that Big Gulp? No matter how much you try to redirect your focus, all you can think about is how much you need to pee.

And can you recall that feeling of elation when you finally found an appropriate place to relieve yourself? To that monkey, your kitchen is just another rest stop on I-95.

Then, having done its business, the monkeys are scared in a strange place and they thrash out the only way they know how – biting, scratching, screeching. Now, you’ve got a scared, angry and quite vicious creature loose in your home. Good luck getting that tiny collar on it.

It’s much easier to train the fake ones

And if, somehow, you managed to lure the monkey down (the common practice of the time involved honest-to-God Monkey Chow), you had to figure out what to do with it. Many people realized they didn’t want a monkey after all. Or parents learned for the first time what that twenty dollar check was really for and refused to allow them to stay. Most zoos wouldn’t take them (ironically, they were no longer wild), so people would just release them outside and let them fend for themselves. I like to think that scattered across the U.S. are small communities of spider monkeys, sitting around, recalling that first time they escaped.

If, on the other hand, monkeys were too much for you, you did have other options:

Raccoon comic book ad
Nearest airport? Raccoons only travel first class

Raccoons for example. Unlike the monkeys, they were cute yet vicious, and never meant to be pets. Prone to thrashing out, scratching, biting…. Okay, never mind. They’re just like the monkeys.

Siamese fish ad
Why do all of these come from Florida?

How about a fish? Siamese Fish were another hot comic book property. “We’ll send you one pair and you can raise hundreds to sell.” That sounds like a great deal. Much easier than selling greeting cards door to door. Just plop your two fish in a tank let them get busy.

Unfortunately, the Siamese fighting fish, or betta, doesn’t get along well with others. They are known for their highly aggressive behavior towards both males and females. My brother used to have a big fish tank when we were younger and he kept getting bettas (because they were the coolest looking ones in the pet store).

However, we’d often come home after school to find multiple casualties in his tank. We replaced a lot of fish before realizing we just kept giving new meat to an aquatic Freddy Krueger.

Many times, the mail order fish would arrive with only one survivor. Which makes it very tough to breed. Any other options?

live seahorse ad

What could go wrong with sea horses? They are so cute. and again, you got a whole kit – plastic aquarium, a small piece of coral for them to hang from and FIVE pairs of seahorses. And two were already pregnant!! I wonder if any of them ever had the babies while packages for shipping. Could you imagine the kid opening that box and finding a whole slew of little seahorses? Buy one & get 25 free!!

Have you ever seen a seahorse giving birth? It’s both fascinating and kinda creepy:

And do you really think they ensured males and females were paired up? Is that why they send five pairs? So hopefully at least one will match up? And once the seahorse gives birth, is it now the responsibility of the little kid in Tulsa to determine males and females so he can sell them off? Is this like a little seahorse pyramid scheme?

Finally if these other options prove too tricky, there’s always this:

Sea Monkey ad
More on them later

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