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The Northview

"Auntie Brenda, do you know any monkeys named Steve?"
Lead Summary
brenda winter, columnist

It may not be ranked among life’s great questions such as, “What is the meaning of life?” or “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” but to me the question is profound.
I was painting my sister’s dining room last week as my seven-year-old niece munched on a taco at the dining room table. Staring off into space as children do when they eat, she asked, “Auntie Brenda, do you know any monkeys named Steve?”
I stopped painting, lowered the paint roller slowly to my side, shook my head and answered, “No. ...  I don’t.” 
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks — I don’t know any monkeys at all.
I guess it was flattering that my niece considers me the kind of person who might know a monkey. To a seven-year-old, knowing monkeys is possibly a pretty cool thing. 
Continuing to paint, I wondered how a person could get to know a monkey named Steve. I might visit the zoo and hang out by the monkey exhibit. I’m sure the zoo keepers have names for the monkeys, but how would I know which one is Steve? 
What if Steve turns out to be a jerk who bullies the other monkeys by taking their bananas and chasing them off of tree limbs?
Another painful reality hit me. I don’t really like monkeys. They kind of give me the creeps. 
When we were children, my other sister asked for a monkey every Christmas. I secretly hoped no monkey would arrive  — which it never did. (Thank you, Santa.)
There was a large toy monkey at my grandmother’s house that scared the daylights out of me. His face was too human. He wore little black pants on a little yellow body. He didn’t have a name that I know of. We just called him “the monkey.”
Had I allowed my childhood experiences with a creepy toy monkey to ruin my chances to enjoy real monkeys as an adult? Is this why I don’t know any monkeys named Steve?
My niece finished her taco and scampered off from the dining room table. I continued to paint with the question still echoing in my mind, “Do you know any monkeys named Steve?”
And now you, gentle reader, can join me and answer the question for yourself. Do you know any monkeys named Steve?
Why not?

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