Part I original concept 1998, new edition 2001 Steve Eastland
Part II 2001 Steve Eastland
Part I was for the honey bee with the pretty blue eyes.
Part II is because a monkey got Stung.
They tell me that I'm the funniest man alive. Unfortunately They're just the voices that live inside my head. They also make frequent references to owls and bananas:
This old owl she ain't what she used to be
ain't what she used to be
ain't what she used to be
This old owl she ain't what she used to be
bananas are yellow
And because They say I must disclaim, here it is: This story is partly not true, e.g. statues don't really talk. Much.
I: The Red-faced Monkey of Love
Our story begins on a lovely day because love stories often do. Enter Grass Monkey, our local hero and poet extraordinaire.
Grass Monkey was late again. Ever since he had stopped playing hockey he had felt a sense of emptiness that could only be filled by being absolutely, most positively, completely and utterly late to any and every occasion he could. Hurrying as quickly as he could while still maintaining a gait carefully calculated for maximum lateness value, Grass somehow missed the statue approaching him at quite a rapid pace until it was too late not to meet it head on.
"Your pardon," Grass mumbled, unaware of the large lump now growing off his forehead.
"Not the slightest chance of a problem, dear lad," the statue replied. "In fact, I was just standing here saying to myself, Self, how incredibly delightful it would be if a monkey would come crashing into us, don't you think? And of course myself replied quite amicably, saying, Why, Self, what a marvelous idea you've got! My goodness, you do come up with some clever ones, you do. To which I replied, Self, Self, you're embarrassing me. I'm really not that clever and you quite know it, so please refrain from such high praise. To which of course myself was dying to say--"
"Excuse me, please, sir," Grass interrupted, oblivious to the statue's long-winded sarcasm, "but I'm becoming quite late." He paused, thinking. "Not that I mind being late, you understand," he added. "In fact I quite enjoy it for some odd reason, but there is a certain limit to the lateness to which one is rightfully entitled, and I fear that I may be approaching that limit rather quickly. So if you'll kindly pardon my rudeness, I fear I must be off." And with that, Grass Monkey scurried away in a southerly direction, eager to reach his destination.
"Darn," the statue sighed, still slightly offended. "Monkeys are such pleasant company, too. What a terrible shame that he had to make off like that."
The statue's self rolled its eyes.
* * *
The Club o' Death was normally fairly empty, but this night it was packed, with only a few empty seats. It was Spiffy Saturday, and Honey Bee's last night performing. Rumor of her had spread during the weeks she had sung at the Club, and an anticipating audience anxiously awaited her arrival. Suddenly the lights dimmed and a single spotlight shone on the stage. A figure inched into it.
"Why, hello, boys," it said in a southerly fashion.
"Hel-loooo, Honey!" came the welcome reply of all in attendance.
As the voice's owner stepped more fully into the spotlight, the crowd whooped and hollered for all they were worth. Honey Bee was beautiful. She gazed lazily around the room, and the air was filled with appreciative sighs as her blue eyes fell on those gathered to hear her sing.
"Thank you all for coming to see me. As you know, it's my last night here at the Club o' Death, and I've got a special song for all of you. Would you like to hear it?"
The noise in the room rose to a deafening level as the patrons cheered for Honey. She smiled slowly, then opened her mouth to begin. Just then the main door crashed open. Every eye swung to glare at a rather bewildered looking monkey dressed in a bright blue shirt and a sombrero. A rather awkward silence descended.
"Isn't this Wild Wednesday?" he finally asked, eyeing the crowd. "I could have sworn it was Wild Wednesday."
"You stupid monkey!" someone called out. "That was three days ago! It's Spiffy Saturday! You're late again, monkey boy!"
Abashed, Grass Monkey turned to go, but a sparkle from the corner of his eye caught his attention. He turned in a quite nonchalant way to face the most beautiful bee he had ever seen. Their eyes didn't quite meet, but that was just because he was shy. Grass smiled slowly, pretending to examine the flowers arranged on the stage behind the bee. They looked like orchids.
"Hey, puddin'," Honey said in a sweet southern drawl. "I'm Honey Bee. Why don't you come up here and join me in a song?"
Stunned, Grass Monkey felt his cheeks heating at a rather rapid pace. He stared at the floor for a moment. When he found the courage to look up again he saw her smiling sweetly at him and beckoning in a very not nonchalant way. He stumbled toward the stage, tripping every two inches or so, face growing even redder by the moment. He climbed the few steps and stared at the floor again, feeling the weight of hundreds of eyes staring at him with grim expectation. He wished he had left while he still had the chance.
"Don't be nervous, puddin'," Honey whispered to him. "Just pretend that no one is here but you and me, and you'll do fine."
Grass swallowed hard. "Um, it's sort of the fact that anyone at all is looking at me that's the problem," he said. "I'm not so much comfortable with singing in front of folks as I am not singing in front of folks, if you catch my meaning."
Honey frowned slightly, appearing to be thinking hard. She didn't want the poor cute monkey to feel uncomfortable. Then she brightened. "I know! Just pretend that it's just you and you're doing the thing you love to do most. How's that?"
"I can sleep?" Grass ventured, slightly puzzled. The crowd seemed to be growing a little bit restless.
"No no no," Honey chuckled, shaking her head. "Just do a little monkey dance or something. You'll be fine." She looked at him meaningfully, and flashed a little smile.
With that, Grass Monkey knew what to do. He let his mind wander back to the days when Bandy was still around, and felt his muscles loosen as his limbs began to perform the fabled Chunky Monkey dance. He was vaguely aware of music and a beautiful voice in what seemed another world, but at the moment all that existed was the wonder, the marvel that is the Chunky Monkey. He had forgotten how it felt. It was good to be back.
Some time later Grass found himself lying on a bed staring at the ceiling, wondering how he had gotten there and why he could not remember anything but a talking statue. He lay thinking for a few moments longer, and caught a light scent of orchids. For some reason it was familiar, but he could not remember why it should be. As curious a monkey as ever, Grass sat up and looked around the room. It was a small room, containing just the bed he was sitting on, a small chest of drawers, and a simple but sturdy-looking chair. There were bouquets of orchids on the walls. He wondered where he could be. He didn't have to wonder long, as just then the door opened and in walked the most beautiful bee he had ever seen. He didn't have time to say anything because she beat him to it.
"You're awake!" she said happily. "When you passed out you had such a peaceful smile on your face that no one had the heart to wake you, so I brought you here to rest."
"Um," said Grass Monkey. "Um. Do I know you? Um. Er."
"Silly monkey," giggled the bee. "You're so cute. I'm Honey Bee. You just put on one mean dance performance. The crowd loved it." She paused. "And I love your sombrero," she added.
Memory rushed to Grass's head. He recalled the many eyes looking at him like he was some sort of freak. He felt his face growing red and hot again, beginning at his ears.
"Oh, no," he moaned. "I did the Chunky Monkey in front of all those people? I feel like such an idiot! What was I thinking? What--"
"Hey there," Honey interrupted. "It was a nice dance. The Chunky Monkey, you said it was called? I liked it, and like I said, so did everyone else.
"--I can't believe that I actually..." Grass's brain caught up with his ears. "They liked it, did you say? As in liked? Like they didn't not like it? They liked it?"
"Yes, they loved it," Honey said.
"Are you sure? You don't have me mixed up with another monkey do you? That happens sometimes, even to the best of us."
"Yes, I'm sure it was you, you silly monkey. Listen, I'm done singing here now. Would you like to go and eat somewhere?"
"Eat?" Grass Monkey said, still confused. "Like where there's food, and you're there, and I'm there, and we're all in the same general area, and possibly somewhere near the same spot? That kind of eat?"
"I was thinking something like in the same spot, but yeah, that kind of eat. What do you say?"
Grass Monkey wasn't stupid. He knew that if a pretty girl who wasn't sporting a ring asked you to do something, you did not say no. It's just one of those unwritten rules, like "Don't chew with your mouth open." It's common sense, but you would be surprised how many people get it wrong. So he said of course he would like to, he would be honored to, and would it be too much trouble if he paid for the food and maybe they could watch a movie together or something.
"I'd like that, Grass. Why is your face so red?" she asked. Something about her voice didn't quite make sense to Grass, but he couldn't say what.
"You're, um, it's hot in here, um, yes, very hot. Scalding."
Honey Bee smiled, apparently finding something very amusing. Grass couldn't for the life of him see what. Before the silence could become too awkward, he ventured, "Shall we, er, go then?".
"Yes, let's. Let me get my purse." Grass Monkey realized what it was about Honey's voice. Her accent had disappeared.
"Honey?" The double entendre rang loud in Grass's ears.
"Um, you sort of... don't have much of an accent suddenly."
"Oh yeah, that's a thing I do when I'm performing. The crowd really seems to like it." Her voice changed as she added, "What do you think, puddin'?"
Grass swallowed hard. "I can see why they might like it," he conceded after a moment. Honey laughed lightly, and they left.
They had a wonderful time together that night. After the movie, they took a walk, talking about nothing in particular, just talking to talk to each other. All too soon it grew late, but neither of them wanted to say goodbye.
"Well, it's getting kind of late," said Grass Monkey. "I suppose I ought to take you home so you can sleep."
Honey Bee didn't want to sleep, and she was reasonably sure Grass didn't want to sleep either, but she knew that it was probably for the best. "Yes," she said. "I should probably be getting home. Sleep is good." She knew what she said didn't sound very good, but she was having a hard time getting words to come out right around such a wonderful monkey. Many people do. She was just glad she got to be one of those people who actually experience being tongue-tied around a handsome monkey.
And so Grass Monkey walked Honey Bee to her door, and they gazed into one another's eyes for a brief moment. Then Grass Monkey said, "Well, sleep well. Er. I'll call you soon?"
"Yes, do. I would like that very much, Grass. Good night, puddin'," she added with a teasing smile. With a final glance, she closed the door. Grass sighed. As he drove1 back to his house, he felt lighter than air. He was smitten with Honey Bee, and he got the impression that she liked him a little bit, too. As he lay in his bed thinking about the night, he fell asleep with an even more peaceful smile on his face than when he had danced the Chunky Monkey only hours before.
When he awoke the next day, he still felt like he was on Cloud Eighty-five. He couldn't get Honey out of his head. He didn't want to seem too eager by calling her so soon, but he found it hard to think of anything else at all. He wandered around his house doing all the things he didn't like to do otherwise, e.g. cleaning the bathroom and taking out the garbage. These were things that he knew logically had to be done but were just such a chore. But concentrating on scrubbing mildew and bidding a tearful farewell to week-old pizza helped him forget Honey Bee for a time, or at least only devote seventy-two percent of his thought process to her. Unfortunately, cleaning took rather less time than he hoped (for once), and he found himself again with nothing to do but think of Honey. He broke out some video games and played for a while and then tried to read a book, but his thoughts wouldn't leave him alone. Finally the day ended, and he gratefully went to bed. Gratefully, that is, until he found he couldn't sleep for thinking about Honey Bee. With a groan, he tried counting sheep, singing songs, and even he even tried to think about calculus, but to no avail. It's going to be a long night, he thought, and it was. The thing about long nights that you don't realize until after the fact is that they do pass. It just takes a long time.
Grass slept fitfully, and thus awoke at an hour so early that it shouldn't be allowed to exist. There were still seemingly countless hours before him before he could feel comfortable about calling Honey Bee. They dragged on even more than the day before, it seemed to Grass Monkey. Trying to concentrate on anything at all but Honey, the hours somehow passed. It was time to call.
Eager as Grass Monkey had been to call Honey and hear her melodious voice again, a sudden paralysis seized him as he began dialing her number. He was as nervous as he had been when she had called him to the stage at the Club o' Death. He dialed the first five digits, and promptly hung up. He tried again. He picked up the receiver and, breathing deeply, dialed. This time he made it through six digits before hanging up the phone. He tried eight more times before he found the courage to dial the seventh digit. The phone rang several times, and he was just about to hang up when someone picked up.
"Hello?" came the voice.
"Hello. Er. Honey?"
"Yes, it's me. Is that you, Grass?"
"Um. Yes. Um. Yeah, how are, um, you?"
"I'm wonderful! I'm so glad you called! What are you up to?"
"Not too much. What's, er, new?" Despite having spent time with Honey already, Grass was still nervous. It was an inexplicable nervousness, but it was there all the same. He told himself that he shouldn't be nervous, and his self replied that should be doesn't mean is.
"Nothing, really. I had a really nice time with you the other night."
"I had a good time, too. I was, in fact, er, wondering, er..."
"Yes?" Honey prompted.
"Er. Um. Would you like to, you know, um, do something again sometime?" Little beads of sweat were forming on Grass's forehead as he struggled to get his words out coherently.
"I'd love too, my cute monkey friend! What did you have in mind?"
Grass, who wasn't the most imaginative when it came to dating ideas, said, "Oh, I don't know. What if we sort of watched another movie, and maybe ate some more of the kind of food where you and I eat in the same spot?"
"That sounds nice, Grass. When were you thinking of?"
"How about tomorrow? Or no, that's too soon, you're probably busy--"
"Tomorrow is fine," Honey chuckled softly. "I'll see you around seven, then?"
"Seven it is. I'll be there. Um, so, um, goodbye then?"
"Goodbye, Grass. See you tomorrow." She hung up the receiver.
Grass Monkey hung up his phone and sighed. He had done it--made the post date call. It was time for a cold shower.
* * *
As Grass and Honey sat in the dark theater watching The Water Buffalo2 their attention became less and less focused on the world around them and more and more focused on one another. They both tried to act as though they didn't notice that their hands were slowly moving closer and closer together until at last they clasped in joyous but carefully nonchalant union. Grass Monkey blushed, acutely aware of Honey's blue eyes staring into his own in what he could only think of as a magical way. In another world, The Buffalo bellowed.
The movie ended, and Grass and Honey filed out of the theater hand in hand, oblivious to the people around them. They enjoyed a quiet, happy meal, and then decided to go to Grass Monkey's house and talk and enjoy each other's presence even more. They talked about nothing in particular for some time until there was no more nothing to talk about, at which point a thoughtful silence descended.
Wow, thought Grass Monkey. Honey sure is nice. And pretty. Pretty nice, I'd say. Hey, was that a pun? It was a pun! I crack myself up sometimes.
Honey Bee was thinking, Gee, Grass sure is swell. He's so much nicer than Buster Badger, my old boyfriend. He's smart and handsome and even sort of half-funny sometimes. I wish he would kiss me.
And Grass thought, I wonder what it would be like to smooch her. I should do it. No, I can't. I'm too nervous. What if she doesn't want to smooch? That would be embarrassing. Uh, oh. My ears are turning red thinking about it. She's noticing. Change the subject, quick! "What are you thinking, Honey?" he said aloud, hoping that the answer would be completely unrelated to smooching. Something about penguins would be nice. Penguin penguin penguin, he thought desperately.
Honey, who didn't like penguins all that much, said, "Oh, I was just wondering if you were ever going to kiss me, Grass."
Grass froze. "Um," he managed after a minute. "Penguin?" he tried, hopefully.
Honey shook her head and laughed. "Silly," she said. "Just kiss me, please, Grass Monkey."
Still slightly3 terrified, Grass slowly leaned toward Honey Bee, and she leaned toward him. Their eyes closed, their lips met,4 and another joyous moment was shared by the two. After the shortest eternity Grass had ever experienced, Honey chuckled softly. Grass, having not yet realized that girls don't have to have reasons for anything, wondered why. Before he could ask, Honey said, "Grass, you're shaking. What's wrong?"
Grass felt his face begin to flush as he started to mumble that it was just that it had been quite the time since he had smooched a pretty girl (hastily adding that pretty didn't mean beautiful like she was) and that he was nervous and--
"It's okay, Grass," said Honey. "I understand you're nervous. You don't have to be, though. Not with me." For emphasis she placed her hands on his cheeks and stared straight into his eyes. After a moment's pause she said, "Kiss me again, please, Grass."
With that Grass leaned closer and Honey pulled him the rest of the way, and they kissed again. This time the eternity seemed just about the right length.
* * *
Christmas was approaching, and Grass Monkey and Honey Bee had been seeing one another regularly for some time. Honey was flying back to her hive for the holidays, and so Grass volunteered to take her to the airport. The night before she was to leave they were at her house, watching TV. They had both been silent for several minutes when Honey said, "Grass?"
For answer, she leaned over and kissed him.
"What was that for?" Grass asked.
"Just because you're swell, Grass Monkey." She snuggled closer to him and turned back to the television.
That was a good enough reason for Grass, and so he thought nothing more of it. Soon it grew late and they had to leave early the next morning, so Grass decided to leave. Honey walked him to the door and told him good night, and he walked down the stairs to his car.
Before he went to bed, he decided to write a poem to try to express his feelings for Honey. He sat down at his desk, picked up a pen and a piece of paper, and started to write. After quite a bit of thinking, writing, scratching out, wadding up of paper, and rewriting, he eventually came up with the following:
Honey Bee, o Honey Bee, what is this inside of me?
How to tell the way I feel? It's kind of like banana peels:
kind of slick, kind of slimy, but they keep bananas fresh.
It's wonderful and really swell, just like the time at Show and Tell
when all the kids liked what I brought--a neat-o seashell that I bought.
I just don't have the words to say, I guess.
I like Slurpees, I like Sprite, and juggling on a quiet night.
Hockey's not so much for me, but you are, my dear Honey Bee.
Yes, it's true. Grass Monkey still had not won a literary prize for his poetry. All he had were vague promises of publishing that were as of yet unfulfilled, but he kept trying in hopes that his talents would someday be recognized. Satisfied with his effort, he turned off the light and went sleep.
When the alarm clock sounded the next morning, Grass Monkey shot out of bed, frantically wondering where he was. Slowly it dawned on him that it was just morning again, and he turned off the alarm. Then he remembered he needed to take Honey to the airport today. He dressed hurriedly and ran to the car. It began to snow as he drove to Honey's house, and by the time he arrived flakes were falling heavily. When he knocked on the door, she flung it open with a big smile on her face.
"Good morning, Grass!" she exclaimed. "I get to see my family today! I'm so excited!"
"That's wonderful, Honey," Grass said. "Can I help you carry your stuff downstairs?"
"Sure! You're so great, Grass! I've just got to throw a few more things in my suitcase and I'll be ready to go."
Grass started carrying bags downstairs and putting them in the trunk. After a few minutes Honey came down to the car and announced that she was ready to go. Grass opened her door and she got in, then he walked to the driver's side, got in, and started the car. As they drove away the snow let up a little, then stopped. During the drive to the airport Honey Bee talked about how great it would be to see her family again after so long, and how excited she was. Grass listened and nodded his head, grunting when he felt like he should contribute to the conversation. Soon enough they arrived at the airport. Being the holiday season, the lines at the ticket counter were overpopulated and the two had to wait for what seemed like hours.
It turned out that it was hours. There were so many people to wait behind that by the time they got to the ticket counter Honey's flight had already left. Honey began to cry when she realized what time it was. "What am I going to do, Grass?" she sniffled. "I want to see my family!"
"Hey, no worries, right? We'll just sort of put you on the next flight to the hive. There's got to be another one going there today." Grass put a hand to her cheek and wiped away the tears still leaking from her eyes. Come on, let's go check." They went back to the counter and explained the situation, and the nice lady happily put Honey on the next flight to the hive.5 Honey smiled. "Thank you so much!" she whispered.
"It's no problem, young lady," the nice lady replied. "Have a wonderful holiday season. Now hurry, they're beginning boarding now."
Grass and Honey made their way through the maze of the airport and arrived at the gate just as the final boarding call was being made. Honey turned to Grass, hugged him quickly, and said, "See you in a couple of weeks, Grass."
"Have fun, Honey," he said. "Oh, man, I almost forgot! Here, take this." He pulled the poem from his pocket and shoved it into her hand. With that, she turned and ran for the plane.
Grass walked to the window and watched as the plane taxied away and flew into the sky. He had a feeling it would be a long few weeks.
II: Wrath of the Stinger
The clouds were conspiring again.
It wasn't just a spur of the moment conspiracy on their part. It was conspiratorial conspiring, the kind where people wear dark hoods and meet in ill-lit rooms which, in turn, are guarded by large men who, judging by the pattern of scars crossing their face, answer to "Bubba" and will immediately step on anything that looks at them crossways or even thinks of calling them "Big Guy." It was the kind of conspiring involving secret phrases like "The duck molts at an inconvenient location" and "Crackers are best eaten backwards after Labor Day," and where everyone talks in a whisper for fear the rats will hear and rat on them, as it were.
The snowfall they had caused that morning was just a warm up, in a manner of speaking. It was time for the real thing now. After going over the final plans one more time, they dispersed to their respective attack positions and, at the signal, began to unload their snow.
Far below, Grass Monkey was driving home from the airport very slowly. Snow was falling furiously now, reducing his vision to a few car lengths in front of him. He couldn't stop thinking about Honey Bee. He missed her already. To try to get his mind on something else, he turned the radio on. A female voice filled the air, singing about her favorite mistake. Had she made so many, Grass wondered, that she actually felt the need to order them by preference? Some people would write about anything for a buck, he figured. He wondered how long it was going to take to get home in this weather. He wanted to get back to thinking about Honey without being distracted by the inclement weather.
The question of time was answered rather abruptly as the brake lights of the car in front of him illuminated suddenly and the car veered sharply to the left. Grass stepped on his brakes quickly, but the next car in front of him seemed to be approaching at a rather rapid pace. Grass weighed his options. It didn't seem like the best idea to hit that car, and immediately to his left was a ditch, and that seemed out of the question as well. Glancing to his right and seeing the an open space in the lane next to him, he swung the steering wheel to the right and then made to straighten the car out, when a white blur spun in front of him, and time slowed down till it stopped with the loud noise of metal grinding on metal, and then a shot rang out. Everything went black. Grass groped in the darkness, searching for the wet stickiness of blood that he expected to find. Relief flooded through him as the air cleared slowly and he could see again, and he realized that it was just the airbag that had gone off. After a brief struggle to free himself of his seat belt and open the door, he stumbled out into the street to see if anyone was hurt.
Two other cars were part of the accident, but no one seemed to be hurt. Shivering in the cold air, everyone returned to their cars to stay warm while they waited for the police to come inspect the scene. To try to pass the time, Grass turned the radio back on. It was the mistaken woman again. He changed the station irritably. Again, the Mistake Song. He tried several other stations, but to no avail. It seemed the woman had a monopoly on the radio waves. Grumbling, Grass turned the radio off and sat to wait, hoping that Honey was enjoying her trip slightly more than he was.
After what seemed to be hours of monotony, a policeman finally showed up and took each driver involved in the accident aside one by one, asking them for their version of what happened. Grass Monkey's spirits brightened a little because he got to sit in a police car without actually being arrested, but he decided that on the whole it wasn't quite worth it. Eventually he was able to go back to his crippled car and drive even more slowly home.
High above, the clouds laughed maniacally.
* * *
The days Honey Bee was gone passed sluggishly for Grass Monkey, just as he had expected they would. He had never before spent a Christmas with her, and yet he somehow suspected that it wouldn't be the same without her. He spent the first few days trying not to think too much about her, because he knew that he would drive himself bananas that way. He tried to do anything else he could think of to pass the time, but try as he would, his thoughts turned constantly to Honey.
On Christmas morning, Grass awoke late. After the daily morning ritual of groggily trying to remember who and where he was, he realized that Christmas had come. It was funny, he thought, that when he was a little monkey, he could hardly sleep on Christmas Eve for all the excitement coursing through his veins, but now that he was older, it seemed more and more like just another day, albeit a day which involved presents. Any situation where Grass Monkey got free cool stuff was all right by him. He just wished that Honey Bee was there to share the presentness of it all with him. He sighed and got out of bed.
He passed the day with his family, which, as it turned out, wasn't such a bad way to spend the day. It was good to see everyone so excited and happy, and for quite some time he completely forgot about Honey Bee. Dinner was wonderful, and it seemed that the day was over all too soon. Grass realized that he did, in fact, still look forward to Christmas, but now for a different reason.6
The day after Christmas it was also easier not to think of Honey, as Grass had new toys to keep him occupied. When the next day came, however, the novelty had worn off a bit, and once again he thought of almost nothing but her. Finally, late in the afternoon, he decided to call the hive and see how she was doing. After all, he thought, she is my girlfriend. I should call her anyway. It's principle. So he found the scrap of paper where he had carefully scrawled the phone number to the hive, and dialed away. The line rang busy. Darn, thought Grass. He paced around the room for a while longer, and then tried again. It was still busy. He got out some of his Christmas toys and tried to concentrate on them, but his heart wasn't in it. He tried calling Honey three more times that night, but it was constantly busy. He went to bed a little sad, but decided not to let the situation get him down too much. There was always tomorrow.
The next day Grass called the hive as early as he thought was socially acceptable, or near enough, and this time it rang through. He felt his heart start to beat a little bit faster with anticipation. The receiver on the other end picked up.
"Hello?" came a gruff, male voice.
"Er, hello," said Grass Monkey. "Is Honey at home, please?"
"Who's this?" growled the voice.
"This is, um, Grass Monkey. I'm her friend?"
"Huh. A monkey? Don't hold much with monkeys. Hang on." There was a loud noise, presumably the phone on the other end being dropped. Grass waited for what seemed like an hour until finally a familiar voice said, "Hello?"
"Hello... Honey?" Grass ventured.
"Grass Monkey!" Honey exclaimed. "It's so great to hear from you! How are you doing?"
"I'm well enough. I miss you. How you are is really what I was wondering, though."
"Oh, Grass, you're so sweet. I miss you, too. I'm great! Your poem was so wonderful! Thank you so much!"
"Oh, it was nothing," Grass said. "Just a pathetic attempt at something I have little talent for."
"No it wasn't, silly monkey. You have a lot of talent. It was a wonderful poem."
"Well, it was the least I could do, I guess."
Honey Bee, realizing that boys just have a different way of expressing things, moved on to a different subject. However, judging by the subject she chose, she did not realize that there are certain things that boys don't want to hear. "Guess who called me yesterday?" she asked.
I certainly tried to, Grass thought. Out loud, he said, "Who?"
Who? Grass thought. Out loud, he said, "Who?"
"Oh, he was my old boyfriend." A sudden increase in the amount of silence prompted Honey to add, "Are you there, Grass?"
And this is great how? Grass thought. Out loud he said, "Yeah, I'm still here. Um. Did I hear you right? Old boyfriend, was it you said?"
"Oh, don't be silly, Grass! There's nothing there anymore. It's you that floats my boat, Grass Monkey."
Puzzled and grappling for something to say, Grass tried, "You have a boat? I don't like boats."
"Silly monkey," Honey chuckled, and her laugh stirred something in Grass's chest. "It's a metaphorical boat. But if you don't like boats, you can be the apple of my eye instead."
Flailing in the rapids around the metaphorical boat, Grass Monkey tried a different direction. "How was your Christmas, Honey?"
With that, Honey Bee began talking about how wonderful it was being back with her family, how wonderful Christmas had been, and how wonderful everything was in general. She was very careful to avoid mentioning Buster again, having sensed the awkwardness radiating from Grass more powerfully than usual. Eighty dollars later, with Grass Monkey still trying to locate a dolphin to take him back to shore, they said their goodbyes, and somehow it didn't seem as hard for Grass as it had been on the airport. He thought it might be the water in his lungs preventing him from thinking clearly.
"We've been talking for a long time, Honey. I guess I'd better let you get back to your family."
"All right, Grass. It was so nice to hear from you, though. I'm excited to see you again next week."
"Yeah, it'll be...." Grass hesitated a moment, trying to choose a word which would accurately convey his feelings. "Great," he finished lamely.
Honey laughed lightly again. "You're so cute, my little monkey friend. Have a good night, puddin'."
"'Night, Honey." Grass placed the receiver back on the hook. He stared at nothing for a long time, then he slowly walked to his room, fell across the bed, and promptly fell asleep.
* * *
Grass Monkey sat in the airport terminal, waiting for Honey Bee's plane to land. He checked his watch every few minutes, wondering whether he was actually looking forward to seeing Honey. He had not talked to her since the week before, except briefly to confirm her arrival time, and he still wasn't sure how he felt about the whole Buster Badger thing. Nervous, he checked his watch again, wondering if he had time to grab a snack before Honey arrived. He decided he was too nervous to eat.
A voice came over the loudspeaker, announcing that Honey's plane was about to arrive. Grass walked over to the window, watching the plane taxi toward the gate. It rolled to a stop, and after another ten minute wait, angry-looking passengers began filing into the terminal.7 Grass felt his heart start to pound inside his chest. Soon enough, Honey strolled into the terminal, and a smile spread across her face when she saw Grass Monkey. She walked over to where he stood waiting.
"Hello, my Grass Monkey," she said.
"Hello, Honey," he replied. He wondered if there shouldn't be some sort of hugging happening at this point. "Can I carry something for you?"
"You're such a dear, Grass. Metaphorically." She handed him her shoulder bag, adding, "I'm so tired. I couldn't get a wink of sleep for the kids behind me screaming the whole time." Grass grunted in what he hoped was a sympathetic fashion and the two began to walk to the baggage claim area. After retrieving Honey's suitcase, they walked to the car and began to drive home.
"You're pretty quiet," Honey observed. "Is something wrong, Grass?"
"Hm? Oh, no, I'm fine," Grass lied, still wondering if some sort of hugging shouldn't have taken place by now. He knew that you normally hugged people whom you missed, having gone a time without seeing them,8 and he was pretty sure the term "boyfriend" should fall into that category. "I'm just, um, enjoying your presence again, having gone a time without seeing you and consequently having missed you."
Honey, who apparently had not learned the hugging rule, simply said, "Oh. I'm glad to be with you, too, Grass."
They drove in silence for while, until Grass, trying to figure out how to better the situation, asked, "Are you hungry, Honey?"
"Oh, yes," she said. "I just can't seem to eat airplane food."
"Where would you like to eat?"
"Um, how about the 'Olive Garden'?"
Boy oh boy, Grass thought glumly. I hate that place. Why couldn't she pick a Cool Place?9 Out loud, he said, "That sounds great, Honey. Let's go."
Honey seemed to enjoy dinner quite thoroughly, but all Grass could think about was how much he hated the "Olive Garden" and how big the general lack of hugging was. They made idle conversation during the meal, but Grass's heart wasn't in it. He imagined that Buster Badger liked the "Olive Garden."
When they got to Honey's house, Grass helped her carry her things up the stairs and then stood staring at nothing in particular. Honey again asked him what was bothering him, and he again replied that nothing was bothering him, he was just a little bit tired and overwhelmed at having Honey back with him. She smiled and said, "I'm tired too, Grass. I think I should go to bed. Thank you so much for bringing me back. I'll call you tomorrow."
"Okay, Honey." He turned to leave, then stopped. "Um, Honey?" he said.
Working up his courage, Grass said, "Um, well, it's just that, er..." he began. "Never mind."
"Hey, Grass, what is it? Come on, you know you don't have to be shy around me. Just tell me what's up."
Here goes nothing, thought Grass. "Well, um, it's just that I seem to have noticed a general lack of I Missed You, Here's a Hug-ness in the general area, and..." He staggered under the sudden, unexpected weight of Honey pressed against him in a fierce hug.
"Oh, my silly, silly monkey," Honey said. "I'm sorry. Of course I missed you. Let me show you how much." She pulled herself back so she could look him in the eye, then leaned back into him, placing her lips very fully on his.
Still slightly bitter, Grass Monkey thought, This is either good, in which case it is very good, or bad, in which case it is very bad. Out loud, he kissed Honey back.
"Are you all right, Grass. I mean, really, are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm okay. I was just... I don't know. I think it was the combination of the car accident and the Buster Badger thing that--"
"Car accident? What accident? Were you in an accident? Tell me what happened!"
As Grass opened his mouth to start to tell her about it, her female brain caught up with her ears. "Wait a minute," she said, with an almost indiscernible edge to her voice. "First tell me if you got hurt."
Sensing danger without realizing where it lay always bothered Grass Monkey, and now he was becoming extremely bothered. "Um, no, everyone was fine, and--"
"Okay, you're fine. That's good. Now what did you say about Buster? I told you there was nothing there anymore!"
At least my foot tastes better than dinner did, Grass thought. Before he could say anything, Honey unleashed more angry words.
"Don't you trust me, Grass? I don't care about Buster! He was a control freak and the biggest baby you can imagine. I told you already, you are the one I want. Don't you get that?"
Glad to know the correct answer, Grass said, "Yes. I get that." Then he made a mistake. He added, "It's just that--"
Honey's eyes flared with anger. "It's just that what, Grass? What is it? What?"
Boy, this conversation took a nasty turn, Grass thought. "Nothing. I'd better go. See you later or something, Honey." He turned to go. He opened the door and walked down the stairs to his car. As he lifted the handle, Honey called out, "Grass, wait!" He turned and looked up at her.
"I'm sorry, Grass," she said. "I'm just tired. Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. You get some sleep, Honey. I'll call you tomorrow, okay?"
"Okay, Grass. Good night."
"'Night." Grass opened the door and got in the car. As he drove away, he thought, Women are freaking psycho.
* * *
Four days later, Grass and Honey were sitting on the couch at Grass's house watching a movie. Honey had been acting strange ever since the other night when she had yelled at Grass. For his part, Grass was at a complete loss as to what to do. He could tell something was wrong, but he had no idea how to go about fixing what he didn't know was broken. They sat in silence, staring at the screen. Their hands were clasped, but in an awkward fashion. Finally Grass could take the silence no more.
"Honey," he began. "I--"
"Hush, Grass," she said, distractedly. "This is a good part."
Abashed, Grass Monkey sat in sullen silence for the rest of the movie, thinking. What is going on with her? he thought. I have no idea what to do here. Maybe she's just having a bad day. Bad week, he corrected himself, thinking back on the past few days' events.
During the closing credits, Grass glanced over at Honey to find her quietly sleeping. Gosh, she sure is beautiful, he thought. I'll just let her sleep for a while. He sat back and tried to think of ways to make Honey happy. Soon enough he dozed off as well.
He awoke to Honey shaking him gently. "Grass, wake up." she whispered. "I need to go home now. It's really late."
Wondering what he had done to deserve to be interrupted from dreaming about dropping bombs on the "Olive Garden," Grass mumbled, "Ngghn?"
"Grass, puddin', it's late. I need to go now."
Grass forced himself awake and sat up more fully. After verifying his surroundings10, Grass said, "Okay," and they walked to the car. When they got to Honey's house, Grass got out of the car, opened Honey's door, and walked her to her house door. He yawned a tired "Good night" and began to walk back to the car.
"Grass," Honey called out, "you're really sweet. I want you to know that. Good night." She went in her house and closed the door.
Even more confused, Grass sat in the car for a few minutes staring up at Honey's living room window till the light went off, then he drove home and went to sleep.
The next day, Saturday, Honey called Grass to tell him that she couldn't see him that day because an old friend was in town for a few days and she was going to spend the day with her. That was fine with Grass, as he was still confused and saw no way past it for the time being. So he found other things to do and for once had no trouble not thinking about Honey Bee. He wondered if it might not be some sort of sign, but only briefly.
As he lay in bed that night, Grass Monkey could not sleep, and wondered why. Before he could wonder too long, however, the phone rang. He picked up the receiver. "Talk to me," he said.
"Hey, Grass," came Honey's voice. "How was your day?"
"It was fine, Honey. How are you doing? How's your friend?"
"Oh, I'm good. Today was fun. I hadn't seen her for the longest time! We just hung out all day, went shopping, took pictures, you know."
"Sounds like fun," said Grass, who did not think that shopping sounded like very much fun at all. Did they take pictures of themselves shopping, he wondered? From what he could tell, that would be something girls would do. Before he could conjure up a humorous dialogue in his head, Honey spoke again.
"Um, Grass, I kind of need to talk. And I need to go buy food. Would you come keep me company?"
"Sure, Honey." Grass hoped he could finally find out why Honey had been acting so strange this past while. "I'll be over in a few minutes."
"Thanks, Grass. See you in a bit."
As they drove to the Grub 2 Go, Grass Monkey turned on the radio. His favorite new song was playing. Suddenly inexplicably cheerful, he decided to take the scenic route to the store to enjoy the song. He began to sing along.
"Grass, there's something I need to tell you," Honey said.
Grass paused his singing long enough to say, "What's up, Honey?"
"Well, I don't know how to say this really..."
And suddenly it all clicked in Grass Monkey's head. He was going to get the Talk. The one that began with "Let's be fr--" and ended with, quite ironically, "ends." He should have seen it coming. Well, now that he knew what to expect, he was ready to play. He kept singing.
"I think that, maybe we should, you know, just be... friends, Grass," she said.
Grass reacted the best way he could think of. Oh, this was going to be fun. "Okay," Grass said. He turned on to the street leading to Grub 2 Go and kept singing. A sudden rise in the uncertainly level radiating from Honey told Grass he was on the right track.
"Um, yes, friends," she said. "Good friends," she added brightly. "Close friends, even."
"Cool." More singing. Glancing at Honey from the corner of his eye, Grass could see that she was very puzzled.
After a few moments of loud silence filled by Grass singing, Honey said, "Um, Grass? Did you hear what I said?"
"Yeah, you want to be friends, right? Like where we're friends?"
"Um, yes. Yes, that's right." She sat in silence for another moment. "Grass?"
"What do you think?"
Grass turned the car into the parking lot. "This song is awesome, isn't it? I love it." He stopped the car and got out to open Honey's door. They walked into the store, Honey silent, Grass humming the radio tune.
Grass got a shopping cart and started following Honey down the aisles. She looked very pensive as she took items from the shelves and placed them in the cart. Grass went on humming and being generally cheerful. He made the odd comment about this can of beans or that package of marshmallows.
Honey was very worried. He's taking this much too well, she thought. What's wrong with him? She could not, however, think of anything to say, so she just kept walking and putting things in the cart. Eventually she had everything and walked to the register. She paid for her food and walked out into the chilly winter air. Grass followed her to the car. He opened the passenger door for her, handed her the keys, and said, "Get in and get warm, Honey. It's really cold out. I'll put the stuff in the car."
"Are you sure you don't need any help?" she said. She felt totally at a loss.
"No, no. You get in the car and get warm." When she did, he opened the back door and began piling groceries on the seat. Then he closed the door and took the cart back to the cart-holding thingy. Before returning to the car, he scanned the parking lot, and spotted a rogue cart on the other side. He walked toward it to put it back, knowing that this would make Honey wonder if he was walking home. He returned it to the cart-holding thingy, went back to the car and got in. "Are you warm enough, Honey?" he asked.
"Yes, I'm fine, thanks." She laughed nervously. "It's silly. I thought you were walking home or something when you went to get that other shopping cart." She gave another nervous laugh.
"Why would I leave you here alone?" Grass asked, as seriously as possible.
"Yeah, you wouldn't, I know. I'm just dumb. Sorry."
"Oh, Honey, you're not dumb," Grass said. Dumb doesn't begin to describe it, he thought. He took the shorter way back to Honey's house this time, and when they got there, asked her if he could help her carry her groceries upstairs.
"Yes, please, Grass," Honey said. She began to grab a few bags.
"Hey," Grass said, "just leave those there and go inside and get warm. I'll bring everything up."
"No, it's cold out here. Go inside, Honey. I've got it." He balanced the greater part of the groceries awkwardly in his arms and took them up to her house. He brought the rest in the second trip. He placed the remaining bags on the counter, and said, "Well, I'd better be going. Have a good night, Honey." As he turned the door handle she grabbed his hand.
"Wait, Grass Monkey," she said. "We need to talk."
"I thought we did," he said as nonchalantly as possible. "Was there something else?"
"You're being too weird, Grass Monkey. Nobody acts like this in this situation. Sit down and let's talk."
So I'm nobody now, am I? Grass thought, suddenly letting his anger and hurt surface. "No, I think it's best I go now," he said, a little coldly. He tried to pull his hand from hers. She held it tighter.
"Please, Grass," she said. "Sit down and let's talk about this. Please?" She almost added "puddin'" but thought that under the circumstances it might be best to avoid that.
"All right, let's 'talk' or whatever." Grass dropped on to the couch. "What do you want to talk about, Honey?"
"Grass, I want you to know that this isn't because I don't like you," she began. "I like you a lot."
"You like Buster better. That's it, isn't it?" Grass muttered. He regretted it almost instantly.
It was Honey's turn to be angry. "What?" she said icily. "We've been through this before. Why do you have to keep coming back to it? I told you that there is nothing there. Don't you get that? There's nothing there. Got it?" She stared at him, fury gleaming in her eyes. When Grass Monkey didn't say anything after a few minutes, she prompted, "Got it?"
"Yes, Honey, I get it. So what is it? My sombrero? I'm not giving that up."
"No, Grass. No, it's not you, it's really not you. It's me."
What, am I in some kind of stupid movie? Grass thought. Nobody talks like that. But he decided to play along. "All right, how is it you?"
"Look, I know this is hard for you to understand, but I just think I like you too much. It was really bad with Buster, and it's not bad at all with you, and I just don't know what to do. It's just too much at once. It's just too much, Grass." She began to cry, slowly at first, and then tears flowed as if the local dam had burst. She flung herself on him and sobbed, her body shaking. Not knowing what exactly he was supposed to do, Grass held her for a few minutes until her sobbing subsided. She pushed herself away from him and said, sniffling, "I think I just need a little time to figure out how I feel. Can you give me some time, Grass?"
Still hurt, Grass said, "You can have all the time you want Honey." Looking over at the counter, he added, "Your milk is getting warm. I'd better leave you alone now." He got up and walked to the door. He opened it, walked outside, and said, "Call me when you've had your time." Then he closed the door and walked away.
Honey Bee cried. But she didn't call.
* * *
Months passed, mostly without great event. Grass Monkey did nothing much other than work and try to figure out why girls were crazy.11 Then one day the phone rang. It was six in the morning, and Grass knew that no good phone call comes at six in the morning.12 He picked up the receiver and said, very groggily, "Hello?"
"Hello, Grass?" came a timid voice.
"Honey?" said Grass, becoming at this point an even greater believer in the banning of six in the morning. "Why are you calling me?"
"Well, um, I hate to bother you, and I know you probably don't like me right now, but I really need some help."
Grass Monkey was too nice. He always felt like it was right to help girls, even those who had ripped his heart out. So he said, "What can I do for you?"
"Well, I need to type up a resume and I was wondering if I could maybe, you know, use your computer."
Grass didn't feel like helping her that much without getting something out of the deal for himself, but he couldn't think of anything that early in the morning. To stall, he said, "Um, my network cable is missing and so I can't print, as such." He didn't bother to mention the other computer that could, in fact, be used to print.
"Oh," sighed Honey. "What am I going to do?"
Great, Grass Monkey thought. She's going to cry or something.
"Would it be all right if I came to your office and used a computer there?" Honey asked. "Please, this is important, Grass."
Still unable to think of what he could get out of it, Grass stalled for more time. "Honey, it's six in the morning, and I can't even think straight right now. Call me back at work in a couple of hours and I'll talk to you then."
"Okay, Grass." She hung up.
Grass fell back asleep.
Three hours later, the phone in Grass Monkey's office rang. It was Honey. She repeated her request to use his computer for her resume.
"Hold on, and I'll check if it's okay." He pushed the hold button, and turned to the two guys he shared the office with. "It's the Bee, boys," he said. She wants to come use a computer. What do you think?"
Grass Monkey had shared the Honey Bee story with his co-workers, Windfaxpro13 and Wordup the Woodchuck. After careful thought lasting the better part of four seconds, Windfaxpro said, "Make her get us pizza." Wordup said, "Word up, homey. Pizza."
Grass was hungry, and this way he would benefit from helping Honey. So he took the phone off hold, and said, "Honey, it's cool, but we need pizza. We're hungry."
Honey was somewhat no fool, so she agreed, and after half an hour showed up, pizza in hand. "I'll just be a little while," she said. "Which computer can I use?" Grass pointed at one and she sat down to type. Grass and the others began to eat pizza.
The room was silent while Honey typed. No one really knew what to say, so they sat there in awkward silence. Soon enough, though, Honey had finished and was ready to go. She gathered her papers and walked over to Grass Monkey. "Thank you," she said, and gave him a timid hug. "I'm sorry about what happened."
Grass, who had enjoyed his pizza thoroughly, said, "Yeah, well, it's okay. Thanks for the pizza."
"Well, see you later, Grass," Honey said, and walked to the door. She turned and said, "Call me if you want to." She left.
Grass stared at the door for a few minutes after Honey left. Then he smiled, took another slice of pizza, and began to eat.
1. If enough monkeys with typewriters can write the complete works of Shakespeare, this one can drive.
2. A heartwarming story of a lowly, mentally deficient water buffalo who rose through the ranks of football to become the star of the team, winning the championship and the girl of his dreams.
3. Read: monstrously.
4. Inasmuch as bees have lips.
5. This is contrary to every known law of Airport Logic, but exceptions make the rule, They say.
7. There's always one guy in the front who holds everyone else up while trying to get his suitcase down from the overhead bin.
8. Unless they've been eating onions and garlic recently.
9. "Carl's Jr."
10. Not only was Grass Monkey not a Morning Person, he was not a Wake Up At All Person.
11. He only spent one futile hour before realizing that no man will ever understand women.
12. If Grass Monkey ruled the world, there wouldn't even be a six in the morning.
13. You just can't explain the origins of some names.