The Birthday Monkey
I’ve invented a new children’s character. He’s called the Birthday Monkey.
Isn’t that great? I’ll say it again. The Birthday Monkey.
See, I figure that most annual celebrations already have some kind of fictional animal or bearded man attached to them, but if there’s one left wide open, it’s the birthday.
Why isn’t there already a birthday mascot of some kind? Is it because birthdays don’t all happen on the same day? What the fuck are you talking about? What, you’ve got to have your magic egg dispersing rabbit operate worldwide on a single date or it’s not realistic?
Why has no one tapped this niche? Christmas stuff is only available in supermarkets for like nine and a half months of the year. Birthdays are happening every day, the market is a constant! Why has no one infected the minds of the world’s children with an animal character whose presence will then be demanded at every birthday or else the event will be declared a disaster, over whose likeness, unlike Santa or Jesus, they hold sole copyright?
The Birthday Monkey.
And I have to say, I think the Birthday Monkey is a he – my apologies, ladies. I did think about making the Birthday Monkey a girl, as I know you lot are not well represented in the area of made-up-characters-who-symbolise-the-spirit-of-a-holiday, and I’m sorry to be adding to the wrong end of the scales (and I know you know what that feels like, right? Ha ha!), but sometimes a character tells me who they are when they erupt from the darkness, and I’m afraid this one’s a boy.
So who is the Birthday Monkey anyway? Is he more than just a plush toy wearing some kind of distinctive, funny hat TBA? Maybe!
Maybe you have to leave out bananas for him? Ripe bananas, all over your house?
Maybe he comes with a sort of dark side, like Santa, who watches children in secret, and judges them for their actions? Does the Birthday Monkey get in on that kind of caper? Maybe he’s another useful character for parents to threaten their children with? That could be part of the sell. Maybe he gets to decide how many more birthdays you’ll get!
‘Little Timmy, stop smashing the TV remote on the edge of the table, or the Birthday Monkey will take away five of your birthdays!’
Maybe I’ll write it as a kid’s book first before releasing the toothpaste. I’ve had at least one idea for the Birthday Monkey’s origin story:
Say there’s this ambitious monkey who wants to become something more than just another screaming, screeching tree-bound thug. He watches a family who live on the edge of the jungle, and waits until it’s the little boy’s birthday. When the day comes, he appears at the boy’s bedroom window and says ‘Hello, I’m the Birthday Monkey! Happy Birthday!’ And the little boy is terrified, but the monkey wants this thing to catch on real bad, and he’s been waiting for this chance for a good couple of weeks (he got lucky with the timing really). He takes the little boy in a firm grip and gives him his biggest smile, showing off all of his yellow teeth. ‘DON’T be scared, little man! The Birthday Monkey is here to reward you for having a birthday! Why don’t we go and tell everyone that your new favourite food is bananas and cream? Eh?’ As the Little Boy looks up into the Birthday Monkey’s eyes, and feels the Birthday Monkey’s fingers tightening on his shoulders, he decides it might be the safest thing just do what he wants.
It goes on from there.
Now in case you’re wondering whether this brilliant idea is entirely a cynical merchandising cash grab, or if I do personally have a sense of wonder about birthdays, and despite the tide of moola guaranteed to stream my way once this thing takes off, you hope I will also take pride from enriching the birthdays of the world’s youngest citizens, then forget it, because I find birthdays extremely irritating.
I don’t want to seem like some old scrooge, but a birthday is just a meaningless number in a made-up calendar that human beings have superimposed over reality to try and make sense of it, which only really exists as a tenacious abstract thought, on which an individual is made to feel special, even though they aren’t and their very existence is actively contributing to the downfall of all life on planet Earth. And I tell you what, that is a hard message to fit on your nephew’s birthday cake.
I even dislike my own birthday. People bug me by asking ‘what can we get you for your birthday?’, and I have to figure out a whole bunch of crap I want, which is within an affordable price range, but which for some reason I haven’t already bought for myself the moment I wanted it because I’m an adult. I’m like, why don’t you just go ahead and give me a ‘to do’ list for my birthday? And hurry up about it will you, I’m not getting any younger.
Then you have to go out to a bar and think about your age.
Anyway. The Birthday Monkey!