Once upon a time far away in the country of Africa and deep in the hidden jungle there lived a baboon named Persnickety. He lived in the vast thick jungle with his family in a troop. His father was over thirty years old and so was his mother. He had several brothers and sisters to play with during the daytime. Persnickety was only twelve years of age but he acted like a small child. He loved to play tricks on his siblings and this often led to squabbles among the family. Persnickety and his family were known as mammals to all the natives that often passed through the jungle. Persnickety ate most of the time when he wasn’t playing pranks on others.
Persnickety was an opportunistic eater and, fond of most of the African farmers crops. He loved to run through them pulling up plants and rolling on the ground while feasting on the farmer’s plants. He was a very destructive pest to many of the hard working African farmers. When he wasn’t tearing up the crops he was eating fruits, grasses, seeds, bark off trees and roots. If he became really hungry he would look for birds, rodents and such. He loved to chase the antelopes and the sheep. If he were lucky and happened to overcome one, he would make himself several meals sharing as little as possible to others in his family. They would often yell loudly in anger at him because he was so selfish. Their anger fell on deaf ears for he really didn’t care how angry they became at him. He would just grin as big as the moon and roar with laughter at their in ability to keep up with him.
Persnickety was a big baboon. He stood almost six feet tall and weighed well over one hundred pounds on a bad day. He was eating daily and gaining weight as fast as he could. He wanted to be bigger and tougher than his older brothers and sisters. He was well on his way of becoming one of the world’s largest monkeys. However the most unusual thing about Persnickety was his funny nature and his ability to laugh and almost anything. He would watch his brother’s climb trees holding on to the limbs with their hands and throw rocks or limbs at them to make them fall. When one accidentally did lose their grip he would roll on the ground laughing until his sides hurt.
Like other Old World monkeys, Persnickety did not have a tail that he could grip with. But he could climb trees to sleep, eat and be on guard for anything that could cause him or his family trouble. He spent most of his time rambling through the jungle causing as much chaos as possible. He would steal eggs from birds nest and when the mother bird became angry flying around his head, he would laugh so hard he would wet himself.
Their are five species of baboon living in the jungles of Africa and Arabia. Four species are known as the savanna baboons, the chacma, olive, yellow, and Guinea. Persnickety was called a Chacma Baboon. He had beady, close-set eyes under a heavy brow and a dog-like muzzle with very sharp tusk-like teeth. His muzzle was bare and so was his rump under his tail. He stood very tall, his olive-gray fur sticking up all over his body. He walked on all four of his feet and held his long tail arched over his back.
On sunny days when there was nothing better to do, Persnickety would sit with his smaller siblings and groom them. He would rake his fingers through their hair to remove trash and look for bugs. Should he find bugs in their hair he was careful to remove each one and eat it. So his work was not totally in vain. Some of the infants rode jockey-style on their mothers back until they were old enough to climb trees. Persnickety’s brothers and sisters watched over the little ones carefully. They knew Persnickety was not very good at baby sitting so they were careful not to leave him too long with a young baboon.
“I wanna live to be 50 years old and have forty wives.” Persnickety smirked as he stuffed his cheek pouches with food. I want to be the dominant male in my troop and tell everyone else what to do. I want to be able to run at least 40 miles an hour and be so strong that I can defend all of my family from any leopard!” He said as he gazed at his muscles in his arms.
“Well you had better stop eating so much and start working out more. You need to stop the mischief and get more serious about life if you plan to live to be fifty years old. If you aren’t careful some of these farmers around here are going to have you for lunch for tearing up their crops.” His mother cautioned firmly.
“Ah Shucks Mom! Can’t a fellow have any fun around here? I am not going to live my life miserable in this place. I’m going to add some cheer and laughter everywhere I go. After all laughter is supposed to be good medicine and I need lots of that to keep me healthy for many more years to come.” He grinned showing his huge sharp teeth.
“Just be careful about all that nonsense! It is fine to have fun but not to destroy the place in which you live. It is not good to make fun of your brothers and sisters either. So watch it buddy or I’ll have your father make that bare butt of yours very red!” She warned.
“I wanna go up in the hills when I get big enough and meet up with the fifth species of baboons. I think you called them the hamadryads and they live among the cliffs. I want to learn all about my relatives. You told me that the hamadryases were supposed to be worshipped by the Egyptians once. Dad said they have long gray hair and the males can have many wives called a harem. That is what I want to have!” He chuckled to himself.
“Before you can take care of nine or ten wives in a harem you must first learn to take care of one wife. Now hurry up and help your brothers go look for water. We have to be moving along tomorrow to find a place with more fresh leafy vegetation. You can dream tonight while you are sleep!” His mother replied.
“Yakety Yak! Women must be famous the world over for trying to tell men what to do. I’m going to eat as much as I can. I’m going to be stronger than the lion and I’m going to have a harem. You guys just watch and see. One day I’ll be like a king.” Persnickety said as he rolled his beady eyes from side to side.
Suddenly there was an alarm that sounded among the trees. Persnickety knew it well. It was a call from other baboons that there was danger coming their way. As quick as lightning all the little ones scampered up to the tops of the trees. The males surrounded all the females and children making a circle around them to protect them. It was a leopard and he was very hungry.
“All males stand your ground. Don’t give an inch. If he attacks, everyone pitch in and defend. Not one of us will be lost to the leopards. So muscle up fellows! Heads up!!!” Persnickety’s father called.
The leopard quickly saw that he was well out numbered and decided to look for food elsewhere. When Persnickety saw him turn tail and run, he rolled on the ground laughing.
“I told you! I am going to be as swift as the butterfly and sting like the bee! Just like Mohammed Ali said.”
All the other baboons could not help but laugh seeing Persnickety’s bare butt shining in the sunlight.
As time passed Persnickety really did become the strongest baboon and he really did have himself his own harem. Nothing is impossible to those that try really hard. Laughter doesn’t hurt either!!!
If you were to be walking in the jungles of Africa today, you most likely would hear Persnickety laughing his heart out. After all it is good medicine!!!
Question? Why is laughter good medicine?
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Copyrighted July 2011