Cracking the mystery.

I saw a news story yesterday about a gorilla. A male Silverback gorilla who lives at the Philadelphia Zoo. His name is Louis, and he likes to walk around standing straight up. On two legs. He rarely does that four-legged shuffle that most primates do. That knuckle-walk.

And the reason behind this? Louis is a bit of a clean freak. He doesn’t like to get his hands dirty, according to his Zoo Keeps. Especially when he is carrying snacks, like tomatoes, and such. The video footage is priceless.

Michael Stern, curator of primates there at the zoo, says workers had to install a fire hose over a mud puddle in the yard. He weighs about 500-pounds, and he is 6-foot-tall. Louis crosses it like a tightrope to avoid getting dirty.

Video of Louis Walking. Walking.

I loved this story because this is so me. OCD, neat freak. Most people don’t understand it, but I really like to keep things neat, tidy, and in their place.

You know that old saying. I don’t have it exactly right, but it is sort of like, “When you die, do you want them to write on your gravestone, that at least she kept a clean house?” (I think it was an Ann Richards quote, maybe.)

Well. Heck yes, I’d want that on my gravestone. It is ingrained in me. I don’t really care about jumping out of planes or seeing the ruins of Pompei. But let me sweep that dog hair off the floor, and organize that pantry. Heck yeah. I am in!

It is just a part of me. Albeit, a big part.

I was this way as a kid. I would get up out of bed and go downstairs and run the vacuum cleaner at night. My dad would always, sleepily come down, and stop me. Tuck me back into bed, and tell me it could wait until morning. Ingrained.

All those little parts of the ‘self’ in us.

I wanted to be a Safecracker too, when I was a kid. Yes. I longed to be a Yegg. I would even construct my own safes out of cardboard boxes. I’d put the little spinners on the front, fastened by those metal clips with two prongs on the end, that you could push through the cardboard and spread out the prongs on the other side. To attach things. Like fastening the make-believe combination wheels of safes to the fronts of boxes.

Anyway. I would put my little ear up to the box, and turn the knob this way and that. I would always wear one of our knitted winter hats, the beanie hats, when I would play this. If I was really gaming, I’d go out to the garage and rub charcoal on my face.

Yep. It was my aspiration to grow up to be a safecracker. Like the kind I saw in the movie, “Fitzwilly,” I think. Or, “Who’s Minding the Mint?” But I told someone about my dream. I can’t remember if I mentioned this to a nun first, or my mom. Whoever I told, I was strongly dissuaded. Another one of my cherised grail, crushed.

So yes. Another part of the overall me.

In the end, I guess it is better that I grew up walking like the Silverback Gorilla who wants to keep his hands clean, than a bank robber with a dirty face.

And our lives keep unfolding. One little piece of ourselves, at a time.


“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul


“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
― George Bernard Shaw


“Biology gives you a brain. Life turns it into a mind.”
― Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex