B-TOWN UNDERCOVER: The Life of a Sock Monkey


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by Shawn Underwood

He is christened Jocko and he sits on the center of dino-decorated pillow on the boy’s un-made bed. Jocko is what is known as a “sock monkey,” pieced together by his great grandmother with loving hands. Jocko and the small boy are the first great grandchild and grandmonkey. Years pass and other stuffed animals, Lego’s, and small plastic dinosaurs make cameo appearances in the boy’s room but Jocko remains. Fast-forward 18 years and it’s time for the boy to leave for college. Jocko worries he will be left behind. He needn’t have worried.

Jocko nearly wets himself with excitement; after all, he has never traveled outside of the confines of the boy’s room. Things are looking up for him and he imagines himself on a new bed in a new location.  Boxes and bags stuffed with school supplies, towels and sheets and various other items are lines neatly by the bedroom door and Jocko remains on the unmade bed. The boy wouldn’t leave without him, would he?

The boy did not pack Jocko and in fact never gave Jocko a second thought.  His mother checks and double-checks all the boxes and bags. She may be what some people call a parental hovercraft. She couldn’t help it. The boy is her first off to college. Being annoyed with his mom (surprise) the boy left the room and that’s when mom spied Jocko—alone on the unmade bed. What better way to remind her son of home other than a larger than life picture of the Mr. Big and Mr. Small (the family dogs) than a surprise stowaway? Mom slips Jocko in the suitcase.

Jocko is so excited; he doesn’t even mind being stuffed into the bag with raggedy-ass boxers and socks. At first, everything is new for Jocko; though he is rather cramped in his new room, he’s happy because he is with his friend.  Jocko finds the young man’s college antics rather amusing and wonders if he could perform a keg-stand as well as the young man. He doubts his stuffed arms would hold him up though. He wishes he could give the young man some astute advice with regards to his liquid consumption but he is mute due to the stitched red line, which doesn’t function well for speaking. One time Jocko tried to angle his paw toward the clock in order to tell the young man of the late hour but he didn’t catch on and partied quite late. Maybe the young man noticed his family smiling at him from the photo on his desk, because he mostly excelled at his schoolwork.

The young man plans to move to a college in Italy for his junior year after spending the summer at home with his family. Jocko wants to go. He needs to go. Who will watch over his friend? But again, he hears the boy wondering how he is going to manage to get all of his things in one bag. His packed bag resembles a sausage on wheels.  Again, the mother pops into his room to check on his packing. She still can’t help herself, she is too old to change, or at least that is what she says. The boy (still annoyed with is mother) wanders out and Jocko is tucked in the very tight bag with a little help from mom.

Florence—the ancient city is a Mecca for college students with the beautiful sights and surrounding countryside and young drinking age. The young man isn’t even surprised when he discovers Jocko in his bag . . .  his mother continues to annoy him from a continent away.  The young man cracks a slight smile as he sits Jocko once again on the center of the pillow of his bed.

However, Jocko is dismayed when the young mans friends discover him and he is featured on Facebook in all sorts of smarmy pictures with the students. He tries his best to look disgusted but of course, he had only the one look since his mouth is sewn tight. So frustrating. And humiliating to be seen in these positions. Sigh, but he would do anything for the boy he loved so much. Jocko loves Florence though he actually only sees the pension the boys live in but he is treated to a fresh plumped pillow and a well-made bed everyday. The boy and his friend score with a pension with a maid who cleans their room everyday. At least Jocko didn’t have to live in the usual squalor. Not that he couldn’t handle it, he’d “manned-up or monkey-up” a long time ago—requisite for living with an active young man.

All too soon, the young man comes home from Florence and finishes college in the four years that his parents hoped for. Jocko is so excited for the young man and he knows he will be going home to Seattle again where he will see his old friends, Bully and Scrappy, alternately a large stuffed bear and a yarn doll. Oh, it would be a happy day.

The young man moved home briefly. He is itching to start his life on his own—no annoying parents or Jocko.  But jocko hasn’t lost hope even though he has no bed to sit on (the young man takes everything that isn’t nailed down in his room) he knows the young man will be back—like a boomerang. They always come home—at least for Sunday dinner.

Mr. Small ignores Jocko the sock monkey.

Twenty-five years of living in Burien gives Humorist Shawn Underwood much fodder for her writings.

All of her stories are true, or at least have a grain of truth with no added embellishments.

Or something like that.

And have you bought her new book “Mommy Are We French Yet?” yet? Buy it here.

Read more of her humor at her website here.

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