I’ve seen all sorts at the library.
People needing travel books to plan expensive vacations to exotic parts unknown.
People wanting craft books because they’re stumped for bridal shower favor ideas and think they have enough time to make three dozen imitation Faberge eggs by hand.
People learning foreign languages, starting their own businesses, or copying recipes out of gourmet cook books that use ingredients you can’t buy at the neighborhood grocery store.
Every day is a movie montage of fascinating people leading fascinating lives.
But the only one I was jealous of was fictional.
“I just can’t shake the feeling that his life is infinitely more interesting than mine,” I told my husband one dull night, as we cuddled on the couch browsing Netflix. Our days consisted entirely of go to work, come home, do nothing. “Just look at everything he’s done! The zoo, the aquarium, the chocolate factory… I think he’s even been to space.”
Matt, scrolling through the new releases, didn’t even bat an eye. “Of course his life is more interesting,” he said. “He’s freaking Curious. Dude gets around.”
“You’re not supposed to agree with me!” I said, pushing him. “You’re supposed to tell me I’m interesting too!”
“No way! That monkey is the ultimate adventurer. Just like Samuel L. Jackson is the ultimate Bad Ass. You have Samuel F-ing
Jackson and Curious F-ing
It took a beat for that to sink in. “You did not just say that,” I said.
“Yeah, I really did,” Matt said, queuing up an episode of Top Gear.
“You…” I sputtered. “You’re a bad man.”
“FYI,” Matt added, “that’s his middle name from now on. Curious F-ing George.”
He was right: every time I saw one of those picture books at the library, my rebellious hindbrain inserted George’s new middle name, making him seem even more awesome. Curious F-ing George at the beach. Curious F-ing George in a parade. Curious F-ing George at a costume party.
I seethed. How is it right for a monkey to have such interesting adventures? How is that fair?
Then it dawned on me: It’s not like he’s had any special training. He’s a freaking monkey! If the man in the yellow hat had left him in the jungle, he’d be just like all the other monkeys.
I needed to leave the jungle!
Not long after that, a patron came to the library talking about her children’s Irish dance classes. “That sounds so cool!” I said.
“You should come!” she said. “The studio is down the street from here, tucked behind that bank in the strip mall.”
“Oh, sure,” I said, but I didn’t mean it. Me, dancing? And maybe later we’ll all go elephant wrangling and hunt for snarks.
“Wait a minute…” I thought. “Can George dance?” I consulted the internet.
Turns out he can.
I googled the dance studio and checked the times for beginner lessons.
Later, another patron made an offhand remark about her guitar students.
“I have a guitar,” I said casually.
“Is that so?” she said.
“I’d be the very best kind of student: the kind who never practices and never improves but who keeps paying for lessons anyway.”
“Are you free on Wednesdays?”
My evenings became busy. I said yes to everything: parties with coworkers, classes and workshops, new and unusual foods. The hardest part was convincing myself not to drive straight home after work and vegetate in front of the TV. My guiding principal was “WWCFGD?” and so far I hadn’t seen a single book about George staying home and doing nothing.
“I’m thinking of belly dance classes,” I told Matt one day.
“Okay,” he said.
“They would take up my Saturdays for a few months.”
“Okay,” he said.
“It’s going to cost $100.”
“Are you waiting for me to protest sexy dance classes?”
“Just so we’re clear then.”
For Christmas, Matt took me to a museum exhibit where I got to dissect a squid. For my birthday, his parents signed us all up for a beginner glass blowing class. For Valentine’s Day, Matt rented me a machine gun and we practiced on zombie targets, followed by a perfectly normal romantic dinner.
I started to feel better about my life. George has been to zoo, you say? So what? I’ve done that. George has gone camping? I’ve done that too. George has been in a hot air balloon? I’ll get to that eventually. George and I are no longer in competition: we’re kindred spirits now.
After I gave my friends an Irish dance demonstration, my friend Randi said, “You have the coolest hobbies. My hobbies are, like, taking a bath instead of a shower."
I laughed. “That's a cool hobby, too!”
"No really," she told me. "I’m routinely inspired by you, and I routinely do nothing about it.”
"It's not hard," I said. "All I do is leave the house."
Seriously, a monkey could do it.