The whole idea was stupid, and I should have known to say "No!"
But I suppose I tend to get myself into situations out of which I subsequently find it near impossible to extricate myself.
Try saying that with a mouth full of popcorn!
It happened like this. School play. I volunteered to help. Dealing with the curtains. Lights. Moving props. That sort of thing back stage.
The hall is full of excited parents and guests. Minutes to go before we start. The teacher, producer, organiser of everything is in a panic. She had asked the caretaker to help in the play by putting on a gorilla costume and acting/behaving like a gorilla on stage. I'd seen him do it at the many rehearsals. He was a natural at it. Almost born into the role. He had perfected all the gorilla's mannerisms, behaviours, way of walking and so on. As an aside, he told me once he was interested in his ancestry. He had traced his family tree all the way back to when his relatives lived in it. I could quite believe that.
Anyway, the teacher producing the play was in a panic. The caretaker phoned to say he could not make it. He was feeling unwell with a stomach ache. Eating too many peanuts, I presume! (Monkey ... peanuts ... catch up will you? I haven't got time to explain all my jokes!)
"Would you please take the part?"
"Me ... of course not! I have work to do back stage."
"Helena can do that. You fit the role perfectly. And the costume fits you. You're the same size as Geoff. You've seen him at rehearsals. Please!"
"Definitely not! You won't make a monkey out of me!" (That's another joke, by the way. Did you get it?)
"The gorilla is central to the whole play. We can't go on without it. Please! I'll be ever so grateful!"
Dammit ... why is it you women always get your own way? I can see it clearly now, in the garden of Eden. "Please ... taste the apple. It is delicious. If you taste it with me I'll be so grateful!"
The gorilla appears in the play on and off at various intervals. A few minutes at the beginning. Then about twenty minutes later, then again once or twice towards the end.
I guess I played the role well. Hunched forwards and walking mostly by leaning on my arms like gorillas do. Grunting every now and then. The audience were taken by it. Some thought it was a real gorilla. It was a performance worthy of an Oscar if there was such a thing for school plays.
I heard a child at the front saying "Mom ... I'm scared. Is that a real gorilla?"
"Of course not," said the mother, "it is your dad monkeying around!" (Monkeying around ... another joke ... oh , you're hopeless. I am too good for this blog. My jokes are falling on deaf eyes!)
Anyway, in between stage appearances I stood in the bar, behind the scenes, enjoying a beer or two. To steady my nerves, you see. The adrenalin was really doing its work. I guess it was quite a sight having a gorilla enjoying a drink.
The barman gave me a pint of beer and said, "would you like some peanuts with this?" (Joke alert!)
At one point I went in the gents bathroom. There was a man there doing the cleaning. As soon as he saw me he screamed and nearly fainted. He had not seen the play and ... anyway, he wet himself when the gorilla spoke to him and asked him to calm down.
After my final on stage appearance, as I went back stage my wife was there. It was one thing following each other that evening. You know how sometimes things happen that way.
She said she was having the baby. She was sure of it. The contractions or contraptions were more frequent. I don't know which. I did not have a dictionary on me to check.
I had to rush her to the hospital. As we were running to the car park I heard her shout, "stop walking on your front arms like a demented ape!" I was still in costume and mentally still in the part. That's what wins you Oscars, you know!
As I drove as fast as the traffic regulations allow I noticed a police car behind me. He overtook and flagged me down to stop.
I thought he'd arrest me for being drunk in charge of a gorilla. You should have seen his face when he approached our car and I wound down the window. You should have seen his face again when I spoke to him!
I told him my wife was having a baby. He looked at the seat behind me as she let out a cry. He then looked at me and must have thought something. I could see it on his face. I guess you're thinking the same thing.
Anyway, he drove ahead clearing the way to the hospital. I was still in costume. I could not take it off because I was wearing nothing underneath. A bit like a real gorilla, I suppose. Do you realise that underneath all that fur a gorilla is naked?
The same applies to us, I guess. Underneath all our clothes we are naked too.
Anyway ... about an hour or so later, (I did not have a watch on me), the baby was born.
The nurse looked at the baby, then looked at me, then punched me in the face!