stupid dirty monkey

Today was a complicated mixture of physical heights, scared children and the vague airy sense of leaking dignity. The truth is that I scare children between the ages of two and ten, and I have yet to figure out why. Infants and toddlers stare at me unceasingly and laugh when I wave or make faces back; I think it's because, with my shaved head, I look more like a gigantic infant than a proper adult. They see me and think: A-ha, he's one of us in disguise. He has access to all the cookies, he can reach all the doorknobs, he uses the regular drinking glass. Once they pass that stage, the amusement in their eyes turns to wariness. It occurs to them that maybe I've made a pact with unwholesome powers to walk among adults. Or perhaps the way I talk to children - that is, with the expectation that they're intelligent young minds who'll respond well to being addressed with respect - is fundamentally off, an aberrant expectation stemming from my lucky childhood. Whatever. Little kids get creeped out when I talk to them.

It's probably because these days I attach a microphone to their shirts first. Maybe that's got something to do with it. I want to go back to the States, where even the most slack-jawed homunculus knows what a camera is and how to respond to it. I swear, they imbibe so much television that apeing the language becomes a reflex for them. Cameras and mics function as eidetic triggers for streams of sentimental longings or paramilltary posturing. They like it when the sport's extreme and the paths of romance are lined with rose petals. Those kids live by a script and they have the decency to recite from it unashamed. When I talk to them I wonder where all the shame went. These kids, they really are free to be you and me.

Today's kids at the exhibition either didn't know the script or didn't want to play along. Instead they averted their eyes, responded in one-word bursts ("Monkey!" "Diving!"), nodded dumbly and pulled at the microphone. I felt defeated. So I harnessed myself to a high=dive tower sixty feet in the air and filmed a group of divers who dress up as five pirates and a monkey. They made the monkey walk the plank.