The Story of Monkey Adoption



It all started a few months ago when she showed me a video of a redneck couple who adopted a monkey baby and raised it as their daughter. (  Since then, it has been a running joke that we’re not ready for children, but we should maybe start with a monkey and see how it goes.

This joke grew over time, and we soon had a name for our monkey baby-to-be: Dookie McCuddles.  DMC would come up often in conversation, and we would playfully joke about having people monkey babysit when we went out, taking him to the zoo to visit his friends, and how I would need to get a monkeysidecar for my bike.


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A couple months ago I began thinking about what I was going to get her for Christmas.  I thought about getting her a stuffed monkey, but that seemed too easy and cliche.  Then I thought about what it would take to fool her into thinking I was getting her a real monkey.  I knew I could give her a letter claiming I bought her a monkey, but that wasn’t enough.  I walked back to my computer, did some quick searching, and discovered the domain name was available.  Jackpot.

I have spent the last two months building out (and the surrounding fictional 501(c)(3) organization – as a total facade for this monkey gift.  Everything on the site is made up, from the information to the press coverage to the inspirational quote from a (fictional) Hindu spiritual leader.

The site looked good, but I realized that Gaby knew I had Photoshop and web design skills, so it was not completely out of the question that I might have made this up.  I needed a trump card.  Enter: the 800 number.

I bought an 800 number and had my mother record a voicemail greeting saying the offices were closed for the holidays, and would be back January 4th.  This was the final piece of the puzzle.

Last night we exchanged gifts, and after all the non-living material possessions were out of the way, I cleared the air.

“Gaby, I have one more thing to give you.  I know we’ve joked about this for a while, but I wanted to get you something really special this year.  Here.”

I handed her a gold bag with tissue paper, inside was a printed version of the following letter:

The contents of the "live animal" box that showed up at her door

The contents of the “live animal” box that showed up at her door

She read it over and was confused.  Not sure if it was a joke or not, she asked me if this was serious.  I told her it was.  With a confident smile and sly grin she grabbed her computer.

“I’m going to Google this.”

I told her that was fine.  I sat back as she typed in the address for Dookie’s personal homepage, as printed on the letter –

“Oh MY GOD.”

She furiously read though the site and learned all about monkey adoption, Dookie’s journey from India to her home, and how very real this situation was quickly becoming.

The next hour was one of the most awkward of my life.

We sat on her bed and discussed everything about the monkey.  How was she seriously supposed to care for a monkey?  What would it do when we were both at work?  Where would it sleep at night?  What would we do with it when we were out of town?  It was quickly becoming clear that she (obviously) could not take care of a monkey.  My favorite quote of this exchange was, “Travis, you drink all the time.  I drink all the time.  What is the monkey going to do when we’re drinking?”

Then came the heavy hitting questions.  Was this her monkey, or our monkey?  What did this mean for our relationship?  If we break up, where would themonkey go?  These questions were peppered with tears and visible waves of panic.  It was beautiful.

Dookie McCuddles packed up and ready for a new home

Dookie McCuddles packed up and ready for a new home

Although she calmed down a lot after I told her we can get in touch with and tell them we’re not ready for a monkey, the madness has continued today as she (predictably, and right on cue) told all her friends about the gift.  Her roommate didn’t believe it was true, and after seeing the site could not believe that she had only given me a Pez dispenser and I got them a resident primate.  Another of her friends suggested that we start with a Chia pet, and work up from there.

This will all come full circle when, on Christmas day, her father (the only other person in on this) brings out a box that appears to have just been delivered by FedEx (complete with fake shipping label from the offices in New York).  Inside is a stuffed monkey and a letter explaining everything. (