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The monkey state: unfit for this nation

Illustraion by Cody Angell
By Tylor Brand
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 16, 2002

Almost everyone's heard someone say something to the tune of, "Man, my mom is such a monkey on my back!" I personally haven't, but I'm usually the last in on these things anyway, so I'm just bitter about being left out. Still, I think the "monkey on the back" metaphor is equally effective and appropriate for the description of the role of the state to the nation.

Imagine this: You represent the nation, and the monkey takes the role of the state, an entirely separate entity (linked by his painful clutching to your back, shoulders and occasionally your head) that you don't need to exist, but you allow him to stay for the little things he does, originally intended to help you.

He does do things that are useful, like picking the various critters residing in your hair (hey, you have a parasite-ridden monkey on your back; he's bound to "pass on" a bit of himself) and eating them. Occasionally he accidentally rips out actual hair, or buttons from your clothing, but you accept these little "incidents" as sacrifices you must make due to having a selfish animal with a brain like a cashew gleaning your head for lice. He also claims to protect you whenever you get into a scuffle, which means he screams at the intruder and takes credit for the victory if you win.

Now, this is a monkey, so aside from the expectedly repulsive hygiene issues that come with having a smelly, non-housebroken beast perched on your shoulder, he is a bit annoying at times. When you sit down to eat, he's always snatching little bits of your food from your plate and generally steals over a third of whatever you try to eat, so it often drives you to hiding food

or finding ways of sneaking it when he's not paying attention. The ever-present problem of monkeys, though, is that they have a tendency to bite and you have lots of scars about your neck and head from when he had the inclination to gnaw on you a bit, usually in his excitement when you're fighting someone.

This brings up another issue. You as a person have a relatively peaceful nature, generally going about your business and trying to live your life. The monkey, on the other hand, has become brash as a result of your fighting proficiency and is constantly flinging feces at passersby and savaging small animals behind your back. As a result, you are forced into many more fights than you'd normally be accustomed to, and usually ones you'd rather take. From this, you have many monkey-toting enemies who are always happy to run up and kick you in the butt when you're not looking and then scurry off, which doesn't hurt too much, except sometimes you lose your wallet.

Even worse, he clings to you more tightly when you're fighting, and if you try to tell him you don't want to fight, he'll cover your mouth and assume you're with him. Sadly, this isn't a mere monkey anymore. Originally he started out the size of those little monkeys from Madagascar that, though rodent-sized, have eyes like dinner plates that make them look as though they've been consuming nothing but crystal meth and bathtub crack their entire lives. However, after a period of decades (we'll scale for the sake of sloth) he's inflated to the size of a particularly well-fed sasquatch. And as a sasquatch, he's that much more difficult not only to carry, but to fend off when he decides to smack you or take away your freedoms, like giving you a "monkey name," or covering your eyes, ears or mouth when it's for "your own good" (translation: "my own good").

So here's the question: Do we still want this freeloading ape breathing down our necks while we try to go about our daily business? Do we even have a choice in the matter? All in all, we have to remember (and to remind him) that we gave him a lift onto our shoulders in the first place, and that if we really want to, we have the power to pare him down, or at least substitute him for another of the crack monkeys, or maybe a well-behaved lemur.


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