Taking a page out of the ‘Dian Fossey Book’, I spent the last 18 months living amongst a young greyback gorilla that I named Ava, documenting our time together and attempting to be friends. We passed the time by gathering food, making grunting noises and picking bugs off one another. We swung around on stuff and took naps. My first attempt at bonding with the primate had succeeded.
During the first few days with her, while her mom was at work payin’ the rent, I had to figure out what the animal ate. She seemed mesmerized by Johnson & Johnson products, so I tossed one in front of her as I jumped back to safety. It appeared like she was using it to sooth her aching gums. I scribbled in my notebook, stood my distance and caught this image with my camera. I studied her movements carefully and made small advances in gaining her trust each day.
As the weeks progressed, I closed the gap between us. I was sleeping only 5 feet from her at night. She knew I was there and willingly accepted me. I also realized that she was moving on from eating plastic containers and quickly grew tired of purees, so I introduced her to LeSeur peas, and, the high-chair. I watched her intently and talked into my voice recorder as she smeared the green vegetables on her face in some sort of tribal ritual.
Thanksgiving had approached and we decided to stay with her. Instead of her regular diet of leaves, seeds and stems, I introduced her to some Pennsylvania Dutch traditions. I was in heaven, however, Ava seemed to grow tired of my oyster filling and raisin pie. Even cranberry sauce didn’t work. Once again, she decided to paint herself, as well as the Fisher-Price tree she was sitting in. She was utterly disrespecting the holiday, spitting on Plymouth Rock and giving the Pilgrims the middle finger. But that’s okay, because she’s a gorilla.
As the weeks went by, she introduced me to something I haven’t seen in many years. Seefood. We had restrained the beautiful creature and took her back to the east coast to be observed by our colleagues (family). During the trip, she appeared to be showing off, as she ‘peacocked’ her head around the vehicle, showing us the twisted, ravaged corpse off her latest kill, multi-grain Cheerios. I reminded my wife that we couldn’t get too comfortable around her, couldn’t let our guard down, because in the end, she’s got animal instincts and could turn on us with a ferocity like Jurassic Park on steroids.
We returned to the west coast without a major incident. I documented her diet and continued to feed her accordingly. I took her for rides in a kids stroller, introducing her to the neighbors and random passersby. I wanted to brag about how I had humanized her and taught her to pull Chex from a snack trap. As we approached the playground one day (gorillas love to climb on shit), I tried to impress some hot gorilla moms by asking Ava to demonstrate her new skills. She turned her nose from the snacks and sought nourishment in between her toes. Months of hard work had washed away like the toe-jam in her mouth. The gorilla moms were unimpressed.
But all was not lost. As we continued to parade her around in public, it give her insight on how to eat like an adult. I disguised her as a human, covered her hairy physique with a dress and matching headband and took her to the local Pinkberry for fro-yo. She observed the locals and moved quickly from fingers to plastic spoons.
Weeks later, after several successful outings with no massive casualties or anyone getting their arms ripped from the sockets, I chased the adrenaline rush and took her to CPK. In an unprecedented move, I put on a magic show for everyone around. I fed her macaroni n’ cheese from a metal spoon. Never before had I attempted this with the robust greyback. The patrons of the restaurant cheered and wanted autographs. I advised them to stand down, as this monster possessed mongoloid strength, and a tantrum could tear this place to the ground in an instant. We high-fived as we walked out of the restaurant. She was a TODDLER IN THE MIDST…..of figuring out how to eat.
And to think we started out like this…
EDITOR’S NOTE & RECOMMENDATION:
While we’re talking about food, it only seems natural to introduce you to someone. Say hello to my good friend Hannah. As of this past December, she’s become a stay-at-home-mom to the beautiful Eleanora. In her spare time (yeah right!) she blogs from The Lexingtonienne. Her writing, recipes and pictures of food cause me to froth at the mouth like a rapid groundhog. This pictorial journey in life and food has me twitching in a straightjacket, waiting for dinner.