Mar 2019 11

 

When he tries to recall Stephanie, he immediately thinks about gorillas.

And vice versa, too. Even now, more than thirty years later, whenever he sees a gorilla, whether it’s in a documentary, or ‘Planet of the Apes’ movie, or even the famous Nintendo Donkey Kong, Stephanie still comes to mind.

She was his neighbourhood crush when he was six years old.

It’s not that she looked like a gorilla. Well, actually he can’t really remember her face at all. So he guesses it is possible she did resemble a gorilla. But he recalls that she had short blonde hair, and was rather slight. Although he likes to think that even then he was more about the person inside rather than looks, it would’ve been unlike him to be attracted to a large herbivorous ape. Not his type.

He vividly remembers other girls he had a crush on during this period. Claire, and her sun-dappled freckles. Nora and her dark eyes and hair that flipped up at the shoulders. Japanese Kaida, with her short pixie cut and intense stare.

But Stephanie is a swirl; her face, a big, mottled blur.

This is probably because all of his six-year old focus was not on her, as much as it was on saving her from being eaten by gorillas.

This took a lot of energy.

We go back to a summer. No school. Lazy days to fill with activities, and his mom announced she was taking him and his older sister to the zoo on the weekend. He was allowed to bring one friend.

So of course, he did what any six year old in love would do. He invited his beloved. A mom phone call was made, and Stephanie’s parents wisely blessed the union. It would be a lovely wedding story someday.

In the days leading up to the outing, he started to plan it all in his head. Stephanie, you look lovely today. What a delightful sundress. My, how the sunlight does dance in your decidedly non-gorilla eyes. It is like this beautiful and unmatched summer day only exists as a failed attempt to outdo your dazzling beauty. The animals will be the ones who talk about what they saw today. Six year old him was still a romantic.

It would be perfect.

Except for his sister. Four years older, although what does evil care with number of orbits of the earth? She had other plans that she shared with him when no else was around.

“Your girlfriend, Stephanie?”

“Ya, isn’t she great?”

“At the zoo, I’m going to throw her off the monorail train and she’s going to get eaten by the gorillas.”

It’s true, there was a state-of-the-art monorail train at the zoo. He had seen pictures in the ads.

“Noooooooo, don’t!”

“Yes, I am. She’s going to die.”

There was regular sibling mean, like eating your piece of cake, or punching you in the face when parents aren’t looking. Or even telling you you’re adopted. But this went over the line.

Murder. No way. Barbara couldn’t possibly be serious. But then again, she did crush his Batmobile with her bike.

He decided this warranted a family dinner conversation. But it had to be subtle. He waited a good 14 seconds into dinner.

“Mom. When we take Stephanie to the zoo, Barbara says she’s going to throw her off that train that’s there.”

There. That oughta do it. Love wins again.

“Oh, honey, that’s just ridiculous. No one’s getting thrown off of any train. We’re all going to have a great time.”

Across the dinner table, Barbara ate her buttered corn niblets and smiled at him to show the futility of his attempts to save his girlfriend.

He thought of Stephanie’s waifish form in Barbara’s clutches, raised high above her head and then being flung from the train, disappearing into the canopy of trees below, to her fate. Ripped apart by gorillas. More limbs than she even possessed flying everywhere.

Good lord. He realized she was going to get away with it.

 

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In case you can’t sleep, wondering how it ends… Part 2 is here