20 January 2011

Sad Little Monkey

Filed under: Reflections — ktismatics @ 9:04 am

Last night’s dream… I’m riding a city bus to a scheduled meeting with a woman who went to college with my wife. Somehow I fail to get off at the right stop. I hop on another bus, but quickly I realize that it’s taking me even farther from the rendezvous point. I call my wife and tell her to let her friend know that I’m not going to make the meeting. I’m already way off course, and my poor sense of direction means that I probably won’t be able to find my way at all now.

Eventually I get home. As I recount my navigational failures to my wife and daughter I start getting weepy. I try to explain: “It’s like I have a sad little monkey perched on my shoulder pointing the way to go, but he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Immediately I start feeling better, smiling even.

I wake up.



  1. Yesterday while writing the novel I had one of the characters dream this dream. She didn’t like the dream: she felt that her dream-self should really have had a sad little navigation monkey on her shoulder, instead of verbally describing her own dream situation metaphorically. Too similar to the rational waking self, she thought.

    On another thread recently I used the word “perfidy” in a comment. Writing on the novel later in the day, I have a busgirl at Rik’s Cafe ask the pianist to betray a confidence. Accompanying his own response, the pianist gradually changes what he’s playing to the song Perfidia. Afterward I discovered this: during the Paris flashback scene in Casablanca, while Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman are dancing together at a nightclub, the song they’re dancing to is Perfidia.


    Comment by ktismatics — 22 January 2011 @ 11:18 am

  2. I just brought back the sad little monkey again:

    The children stop at the edge of the casbah as the man passes through the stone archway and into the plaza. Sunset deepens the redness of the dust stirred up by the swarms of people who crisscross one another’s paths as they haul pottery and carpets, tables and chairs, canvases and tentpoles, braziers and cauldrons, vegetables and meat and sacks of couscous, performing the nightly task of dismantling the bazaar and setting up the food stalls. Someone stands behind a folding card table playing the rope trick on a middle-aged tourist attempting but failing to impress his woman. A few onlookers are gathered around a blue-robed Sahrawi whose keening zokra is having no visible effect on the large mottled snake that waits, immobile but alert, inside its tall straw basket. An old man from the far south sits crosslegged on a rug, accentuating with subtle gestures a story he recounts in Arabic to an enrapt audience. A vendor scatters the placid wasps as he scoops candied peanuts from a black kettle, pours them into a paper cone, and hands them to the walking man in exchange for a few coins. A monkey, perched on the shoulder of a veiled woman, chatters insistently as it points toward the man who now holds the cone of peanuts in his hand. The woman approaches the man, her attitude of supplication accentuated by the kohl-darkened eyes. Suddenly the monkey screeches and twists its head to the right. Agitatedly it jumps up and down on the woman’s shoulder as it points away from the man. The woman stops a few feet in front of the man and abruptly changes direction. Popping a few nuts into his mouth, the man resumes his linear trajectory through the plaza.


    Comment by ktismatics — 25 January 2011 @ 12:38 pm

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