Monkeys vs Plates

12 Nov

We don’t have monkeys in New Zealand so seeing a wild one is kind of exciting.

Unless it’s angry looking and a meter away from the walking school bus, including three of your children and your dog.

(We do have plates in NZ)

About a week ago I was walking with the kids to school. 2km from the meeting point to school, 1km of which is along the main, busy road. Half way along this route Ryu and I sometimes choose to veer left. The kids have to walk along the main road because it has a proper footpath and is thus deemed to be a safer option. I agree. The secretary of the school goes the other way and burns round the corner at about 100km an hour. Fortunately I know her morning routine and I usually pass her on the walk back and not when I would have to hold my third born child flat up against the side of the hill to avoid squash-age.

Anyhoo, on the day in question Shou was being an older brother and chucking shit at Ryu. Those sticky beady grass things. Ryu was covered in them and it was oh, ya know, kind of wearing thin and getting fuckin annoying so we left the group and veered left.  As we met them at school about 15 minutes later they were excitedly talking about some bloody monkey that had run along beside them – as in right beside them along the footpath. I have no doubt it was the talk of the school for at least a good three and a half hours. When Ryu found out later he was absolutely gutted that we’d missed it. Apparently there was a man walking with a flag trying to chase them (there were two) back up into the hills. They very very rarely come down this far – as in I didn’t even know we had them here. There is a mountain in Beppu famous for its monkeys but Kunimi? wild pigs – tick, deer – tick, raccoons – tick, rabbits, ferrets, the occasional fox – tick.

The next day was uneventful and no monkey spotting occurred, although we did spot the principal of the school who was walking up the walk-route with a bright hello school flag – just in case.

The following day however…

I had the dog with me again and we had walked about 900m, during which time Max had pee-ed slash marked his territory 12 times. All seven kids were keeping count. He was onto number 13 when he got a whiff of something and started snouting around in the shrubs.

When a fuckin monkey jumps out and up the nearest tree. So he was there swaying up and down precariously on a very flimsy branch about 1m above our heads. Obviously the whole dog about to eat him thing and he didn’t have time to choose his tree very wisely at all. For max it was like all his bloody Christmases had come at once. Shou and HTB were prancing around doing their best monkey impressions, which in hindsight I should have put on You Tube just to see if it could go viral – it was very entertaining.

But obviously I was in mother bear mode and at that precise moment I was justing thinking that the bloody monkey was going to come down and eat my children – much like the Mukade scenarios that play in my head – although they don’t eat my children, they just slide into the mouthes of my sleeping babes.

Actually to be honest I was thinking fuckin fuck it. We have just gone through the whole Max doesn’t have rabbies thing, he’s getting his shot in a week and now he might get fuckin bloody Ebola. I’m not even sleep deprived but it would appear that having children has made my ability to act calmly in life threatening situations go right out the window. Because it was a life threatening situation aye :p

I shoo the silly boys onwards and tell everyone to up their walking pace – as the monkey climbs down the tree and proceeds to sit in the middle of the footpath. He makes a few ‘should I try and man up and go after that dog or not’ moves, decides not to and just sits there, watching us. About 100m further up the road is the local policeman, who is on monkey watch it seems. I tell him he’s in luck, he turns round, gets in his little noddy police car and goes to investigate. The kids are animatedly talking about THE monkey encounter to end all monkey encounters.

In my role as educator of other cultures and all things NZ I feel the need to tell them that we don’t have monkeys in NZ, only I say “We don’t have plates in NZ”…

Which if I had said in English would have been the dumbest thing to mix up – monkey and plate – like I would have had to be on some serious drugs to mix that shit up. In Japanese however, it is the difference between ‘saru’ (monkey) and ‘sara’ (plate)…

The kids had a great laugh, at my expense and I’m not entirely sure they didn’t spend the rest of the day telling everyone they saw not about the monkey but how dumb Shou’s mum is!!!

No plate sightings since.

Although Max had a good sniff at the same spot today – and even a forelonging look up at the tree.


PS, is forelonging a word?


7 Responses to “Monkeys vs Plates”

  1. littlebelgianwriter November 12, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    Sounds a bit like when I mixed up the following in French, at age 13: ‘autre chien’ (the other dog) and ‘Autrichien’ (the man from Austria). This happened while on holiday with my parents in Brittany, France. The other hotel guests had a good laugh … 😀

    • gaijinwife November 12, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

      haha, awesome – in retrospect 🙂 At least you were 13 – or perhaps that was worse!

  2. Ruth November 12, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    And you think your life isn’t exciting! David Attenborough eat your heart out 😉

  3. Kay Howe November 12, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    Ha ha ha. Best line: For max it was like all his bloody Christmases had come at once! Love it, although I’m sure your feeling of fright was all too real.

  4. Myst November 12, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

    I might have whipped up my phone and put the monkey all over social media… 😛

  5. Amanda November 12, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    Love it – you paint such a great scene.

    Plates/Monkeys – been there and almost done that….was prepping to visit an elementary school a few years back for a Meet a Friendly Foreigner Day and I had to give a short speech about “Me as a child” – detailing what I did to help my mum, my hobbies etc – I gave Yujiro a preview of my speech to check the Nihongo..and he told me I’d better NOT tell the kids “…and I always helped my mum by washing the monkeys…” in case they thought UK familes all had monkeys n their kitchens.

    • gaijinwife November 12, 2015 at 11:16 pm #

      Awesome. People used to ask me quite a lot if we had our own sheep in NZ. Um no, only the people that like, farm sheep 🙂

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