Two weeks in Bali and I became the king of Monkey Forest Reserve. I don’t quite know how it happened. In my 23 years, I’d been the poor white boy. Not too ugly, almost handsome. Quiet sometimes but ridiculous and fumbling when I was nervous. Maybe it was this quality that endeared me to the monkeys.
They actually mauled me when I got through the gate. Took my shoes off. Stripped off my sarong. Flicked off my pink thong with a hoot. Sniffed them. Perverts. I tried to tell them I had a good reason for wearing lingerie, that I wasn’t particularly satisfied in them as a fashion choice. It’s just I had ran out of clean underpants, even if I wore them inside out. I had to ninja a pair from an unsuspecting girl who happened to share my villa.
They examined my body and picked through my waist length hair while the Japanese tourists surrounded the scene and took photos of what seemed to be the biggest drug bust of the monkey police.
“I swear I don’t know how that got in there,” I insisted to the biggest monkey as she showed me what she’d found. She shrugged and passed it on to a smaller monkey who took it to what was likely to be the evidence tree. She pointed at herself and said “Jo-Jo” and then stepped in front of me with a clipboard and a pen and started ticking a list on the piece of paper. Craning upwards from my position on the ground, I was able to peak at the bottom line of the criteria.
A willingness to run around naked.
After a bit I realised they were friendly, once they’d carried me into the forest, although they weren’t exactly careful where they put their hands. They somehow got me up the tallest tree where a wooden stool was tied to a dangerously thin branch. I sat down, the branch swaying up and down until it got used to my weight. Then I was handed a carved stick as long as my hair. I also got to wear a cool crown fashioned from banana peel and coconut rind.