I am going to tell you the story of the day I almost drowned for a monkey. I was all of 9 years old and I had always had a love affair with monkeys. I grew up watching Tarzan and dreamed my monkey would be exactly like Cheetah, the cute well dressed primate that strolled along with Tarzan every week. I envisioned my monkey walking with me hand and hand dressed in the finest tee shirts and blue jeans that I could afford. I knew all my neighborhood friends would envy me and my monkey and plead with their parents to fulfill their desire of having their very own just like I had done with my parents. I saw my monkey in my dreams and had his name all picked out. I was going to call him Lewis. I thought the name Lewis would fit my monkey as it had a sort of artistic, intellectual flair. All was planned as to how my monkey would fit into my life and become my best friend. My dad had agreed to the plan with only one requirement, I had to learn to swim.
Now I loved the water and loved playing and cavorting with my friends at the local pool but I never went deeper than I could see my feet. That was the rule. On beach outings my parents admonished often “never go further than you can see your feet.” I obeyed and learned to play it safe in the water. My dad had always wanted his children to learn to swim as he often gave his reasons as we would be able to save our lives should we perhaps fall overboard into deep water. I never understood from where I would fall overboard and I certainly had no intention of not being able to see my feet in the water. Since no other thoughts lived in my mind except getting Lewis, I agreed to take lessons. Every morning I would head to the pool easing my little body into the Chlorine filled lake. Week after week my ritual continued until the big day when I would have to swim the length of the pool. It was expected that I would dive from the board into the deep waters and swim my way to the shallow end arriving victorious. I had a vision of that day. I imagined my dad had already purchased the monkey and had him hidden at a friends house. I knew once I stepped out of the pool in all of my victory, my dad would be standing there hand in hand with Lewis wearing a striped tee and a little pair of baggy overalls. As I closed my eyes I could smell his pungent monkey fur and would kneel as he came monkey running into my arms. My moment of bliss was interrupted by the sharp shrill of a whistle. It was now my turn. As I stood on that diving board peering into the deep blue cold water I knew there was no turning back. It was now or never. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and lept into the abyss of blue. I swam with all of my might, piercing the water with knifelike strokes. I was gliding and moving inching my way closer to the goal. All of a sudden my body said no. I panicked. I no longer was gliding but I was sinking. Struggling and fighting the water like a boxer in a ring I gave in and sank to the bottom. Screaming as I swallowed large amounts of chlorinated water yet no one could hear. Lewis flashed into my mind waving his little monkey hand good bye. He knew like I knew that there would be no monkey this time around for I had failed. When I thought I could fight no more, a hand reached into the cold water pulling me to the side. Coughing and gagging I laid there for a moment fighting back tears and embarrassment. Finally regaining my composure I made my way to the dressing room defeated, realizing I had just lost my best friend to be. I was silent with my dad and dared not ask if I could still get the monkey. My dad being the compassionate fellow that he is attempted to heal my hurting heart with a present, a doll, not a monkey but a doll. Although a nice gesture, this was not what I wanted. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry and disappear. I wanted Lewis and I wanted him now. What would I say to my friends? I had planned for him. I had thought of all of the things we could do together. I had his outfits chosen. Lewis had taught me a lesson. I learned that no matter how much we want something, sometimes we have to let it go as it was not meant to be. We can spend forever hitting our heads against a wall or almost killing ourselves for a dream that will never materialize. As an adult, I realize that a monkey in my house would have been far from perfect. Monkeys require work and care and have a nasty habit of flinging feces whenever and wherever. That would not have been a good thing. I knew I had to let him go. Years later i asked my dad what would have happened had I passed the swimming test, would I have gotten the monkey? With a smirk on his lip, he replied, “I would have told you the stores were all out of monkeys.”