Tag Archives: Zippy the Monkey Boy

Zippy The Changing Man

I’ve seen him laughing, crying and howling. I’ve even seen him dead.

Fortunately, he was only playing dead as part of a film project while away at University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Today is the day we celebrate every single aspect of the young man known to one and probably that’s all (known to me, of course) as Zippy the Travelin’ Boy.

Yep. It’s another birthday. This time, my middle not-so-little dude is leaving the teens behind and venturing into his 20s. It’s a bit of a shock to see the literal little handful, who had the most amazing head of thick, black hair when he was born, now grown into a young man who towers over his dad.

Zippy the Monkey BoyZippy the Travelin’ Boy has always been the most mutable of our sons. He’s gone through fashion statements (I’ll never forget the violent 180˚ turn he made from surfer punk to cowboy), loves, hates, political perspectives and just about everything else in his life as if he were in a fire sale at a department store and he needed to try on the clothing before it disappeared.

He’s been a bit of a chameleon, is what I’m trying to say. Oddly, considering he took so long to actually speak both understandably and out loud as a child, he’s probably the most verbally accomplished of the three dudes.

By which I mean that he’s always been the type to try out different accents and verbal tics and patterns, sort of like me. I started out early as well. As a young kid, I lived in England and got teased for being an American. So I developed a deep Southern accent, which came in handy when we moved back to Texas. However, as I grew older and started playing football, my teachers assumed I was an idiot because of the accent and the football so they expected nothing from me.

I didn’t like that. So I decided to drop the Southern accent and did, beginning to speak in a bland, newscaster-ish accent. To me, it was easy, but I learned that other people have a hard time doing that. I thought I was unique.

Until Zippy the Travelin’ Boy came into his own. He began copying the various accents I used when I read aloud to the boys and then doing better at them. He started mimicking the unusual voices he heard on television and in the movies, doing a stunningly accurate Bane voice that always cracks me up.

His latest chameleon turn came when he hit college. Since he was 2 and able to mispronounce it relatively consistently, Zippy the Travelin’ Boy (then known as Zippy the Monkey Boy both for his climbing skill and love of animals) wanted to become a marine biologist. Until he hit campus and discovered he would actually have to work and learn to earn that degree.

At which point, he discovered acting and fell in love. Since he wanted to make a living once he graduated, he decided to major in psychology while minoring in both Spanish and theater performance. It’s been fascinating to watch his ambition and skill flower in this new environment.

Whenever we talk about it, his mother and I are smiling like fools.

Which hasn’t always been the case. As he was growing up, I would only have given Zippy the Travelin’ Boy break-even odds that I would let him live to adulthood. He was the most stubborn kid I’d ever met and almost never used those powers for good.

Fortunately for us all, I was able to restrain those homicidal urges and even filled in the suspiciously shallow grave I dug on the sly in the back yard. He’s still stubborn and more than a little of a know-it-all, but he’s learning to actually listen to people with different opinions and has actually been known to listen to the advice from others without disdain.

All of which makes for a great opponent when I want to have an argument or refine my own opinion by seeing how it holds up in combat. His quick wit and merciless attack posture are the ultimate test of survivability.

As much as I enjoyed snuggling with the little dude when he was, in fact, little, I’m finding that I’m enjoying even more being around the young man he’s becoming.

Happy birthday, Zippy the Travelin’ Boy. We love you!

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Will You Still Need Me, When You’re Twenty-Four?*

I knew there was going to be trouble the first time I had to wag my finger in admonition and look up at Sarcasmo.

Physically, it’s been apparent for a long while that I was going to be the shortest male in the family. Sarcasmo, our oldest, is around 6′ 4″ now and should be finally stopped growing at 21. Zippy the Monkey Boy is 6′ 2″ or so and Hyper Lad is 5′ 9″, but he’s only 14 so has a lot of growing left to do.

When I realized they were going to be all taller and probably bigger than me, I quickly realized that I would have to come up with a catch phrase that would establish my authoritarian position as the leader of our little clan. It would have to be persuasive and showcase the innate superiority of the position of listening to their father and doing what he says to the idea that they can go haring off on their own and do whatever comes into their swiss-cheesed brains.**

Here’s what I came up with: “You might end up being bigger and stronger than me, but I will always be sneakier and meaner.”

And it’s worked. So far. Of course, it’s meant in jest and I made sure my young dudes know it, but the meaning behind the joke is somewhat more serious.

It’s not that we parents tell our children what to do because we’re control freaks***, but rather because we have life experience and understand how there might be a better or safer way to do something. The problem with kids ageing is that I can’t expect to have them do what I tell them to do just because I said they should do it. That works when they’re younger for a variety of reasons.

Little dudes start off doing as they’re told because Mom and Dad are infallible, but that goes away pretty quickly. They’ll also do as they’re told because, to be blunt, they’re scared of what will happen if they don’t. Not that every kid is worried that their parent will hit them, but parents are, after all, in charge of who gets the TV or the computer, the person who will take them to the park. Parents hold a lot of keys to a lot of different treasure chests.

As the little dudettes get older, though, these subtle threats begin to lose their force. The words “You can’t make me” or “You’re not the boss of me” begin to make the first of their years-long lifespans as a major part of her vocabulary.

And, once she gets past a certain age, she’s right. We can’t. Legally, if a young man 18 or over wants to do something, there’s precious little a parent can do to stop him.

Which, again, is bad news because, as much as the young dudes wish it weren’t so, parents really do understand more about life and really do know better.

Parents are a marvelous resource for young sons and daughters. Unfortunately, there are too many instances in which those resources go untapped and unrecognized.

So. We’ve got that all set up. Come back tomorrow and we’ll discuss what you can do to make sure your son or daughter not only asks for, but listens to your suggestions.

Footnotes & Errata

* With my apologies to the Beatles, but the song lyric just fit too well to ignore.
** Not really Swiss cheese. I just use that as a visual shorthand for the fact that (and this is science, dudes and dudettes) the male brain doesn’t fully mature until at least 25 or so. If you’re lucky.
*** Which you will certainly believe. As long as you don’t listen to any of my children. Or my sister’s. Or my neighbors’. Or that dude over there. You get my point.

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A Snake In The Grass And The Carpet

In the long line of odd pets that have wandered, walked, crawled, creeped and slithered through Casa de Dude, I think I liked the snake the best.

Well, except for the hooded rats, of course.

I mean, it’s bleedin’ obvious that hooded rats are going to be my favorite, as well as the favorite of every single right-thinking, pet-owning person in the world.

They’re smart. They’re cute. They’re cuddly and affectionate. The best ones enjoy riding around on your shoulder, their tiny little paws grasping your ear as they scan the scenery. Of course, hooded rats are going to be number one.

I’m not including the dogs and cats because, as noted, this is for the odd pets that most people don’t have. The kind of odd pet which crawled/flew/slithered/etc through Casa de Dude with a distressing regularity.

It was the snake for a number of reasons. The first is that I and the young dudes loved to watch her eat.

Her name was Ribbon and she was — surprise! — a ribbon snake. A ribbon snake is a pretty cool pet because it eats live fish, so you get to watch it go fishing and then gulp down the meal.Yeah, that name was thanks to her owner, Zippy the Monkey Boy, who didn’t really put a lot of thought into naming his pets.

See, this ribbon snake was a piscivore. That is, she ate fish. Not cooked fish or fish bits, but fish. Live fish. Which we had to purchase for her and put in her little water bowl/fish tank/feeding trough.

It was, to put it mildly, very cool. We’d put in the fish and then wait. Ribbon would slither around the bowl and then slowly raise up above the water level. She’d look for a while, choose which one she wanted and then strike! She’s snap down, grab one in her jaws and then slither back out onto the ground, where she’d basically swallow the thing whole.

Making, of course, a huge, fish-shaped lump. Definitely an interesting site.

The second reason I loved her was because of her Great Escape. We came back from a vacation to find that Ribbon was gone. There was a hole in the mesh on the top of her cage and she was gone.

We searched everywhere, but to no avail.

Three days later, I was out on the back deck getting ready to move the tub full of newspapers to be recycled out to the front curb. I lifted up the tub and there was Ribbon.

Not many fish in our backyard so I have the feeling she might have been a tad bit hungry, which could account for how easily I caught her.

Think about this, though. She had to escape from her cage into Zippy the Monkey Boy’s room,  then escape from his room. Making sure not to get caught in any of the other upstairs rooms, she had to go downstairs, cross the house and then find a way outside. To get outside, she had to figure out how to get through closed French doors because I’m pretty sure someone would have noticed a snake crawling out with them.

That, dudes, is a pretty impressive feat and definitely worthy of being ranked number on– I mean, number tw– or after rats, the dogs and the cats, then. . .

That, dudes, is a pretty impressive feat and definitely worthy of being ranked up near the top.

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