When I was 6 or 7, my grandmother caused a gorilla to fly across her living room. I’m pretty sure I put her up to it.
After her summer trip, she brought back two stuffed animals to put on her couch. One was a skinny bear in overalls. The other was a squat white gorilla, and his name was Max. Max, like many stuffed animals, had a loop sewn to the back of his neck. So I asked the logical question: “What’s that for?”
I don’t know why, but my grandmother answered, “Maybe it’s to make him fly.” I’m not sure what happened after that, but it involved a rubber band and a paper clip. The next thing I knew, Max was dangling from the ceiling fan, one arm out as if he were waving. Then my grandmother pulled the switch.
Slowly, Max revolved, waving and scowling a gorilla scowl and seemingly enjoying himself. Then the fan got faster, and the rubber band snapped. Max sailed across the room, landing face first into the living room window. The window didn’t break, but there was a very loud THWACK. Max looked a bit disoriented, but otherwise unharmed. Maybe he was even disappointed. My grandmother, for her part, was laughing so hard she was crying. So was I. Max lives with my sister now, who has no ceiling fan. I wonder if he misses flying.
For the original flying monkeys, check out The Wizard of Oz. And if you don’t believe that monkeys can fly, David Wiesner would like a word(less) with you. Forget monkeys — in his Caldecott-winning Tuesday, frogs float and zoom and soar all over town in the greenblue twilight, capes billowing behind them. Why? Who knows? But wait ‘til you see who flies next Tuesday.