Years ago, there was a time when all I needed in the world to feel comfortable was the company of a certain little monkey. For our prompt of “dolls” today, we have what I realize now is a disturbingly accurate portrayal of my friend Zip. This was the only doll I ever really had and its plastic face would go from cute to creepy depending on the lighting in the room. The doll is actually based on the character of a real life chimp named Zippy that appeared on the Howdy Doody show. This show aired before I was born but several mentions in televisions and movies during the 70’s, along with a nostalgic and hyper-idealized view of 1950’s brought it back into vogue. Zippy had a girlfriend named Tippy, a similar doll with blond hair that was absolutely terrifying to look at. I just had Zippy, which I think might have simply been found at a garage sale. But, I was small and eager to read, so I just called him Zip because I was so proud to be able to pronounce the name on his yellow t-shirt. We quickly became fast and inseparable friends.
I remember taking Zip along with me on various adventures, which was pretty much any trip I took in the car with mom. He was huggable, but you had to be wary of the big plastic shoes as I would sometimes swing him about with joy only to be clubbed in the face with them. But I loved that he could sit beside me everywhere I went. He had a permanent grin on his overly molded face, and his half-opened mouth allowed me to jam his fingers inside as though he were eating. His little hat actually came off, which created a constant game of hide and seek that my poor mother had to play far too often. I think, though, I never managed to lose the hat, but it was fun to take on an off. Of course, I took his hat off when we went to a restaurant as it’s just good manners. I remember so many time from those early years, because it’s far easier to recollect memories when enjoyed with friends. And Zip was simply the most awesome little friend in the world.
With a bond so great, one would think it might never end, but like many friendships, time can cause people to grow apart. In my case, I was simply growing up and having a doll around all the time meant that I wasn’t being a “big boy.” So one day, though I can’t quite recall when, Zip was put on a shelf and no longer joined me on my adventures. I remember passing him in my room and for the briefest of moments thinking back to all of our time together. And though I was growing far too old to be carrying a doll about, each night for years after that, before I went to bed I would quietly say, “Goodnight, Zip.” A small gesture for an old pal that brought me so much joy. More years passed and I grew up even more and at some point Zip just disappeared. I’m not even sure now what happened to him. Perhaps he was placed in one of our own garage sales and went to live with another little boy somewhere. I’d like to think that’s what happened at least. But no matter how many years go by, I’ve never forgotten him. That’s the beauty of friendship, and why I’ll always have fond memories of that time long ago, back when my best friend was a monkey.
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