BY MICHAEL FRISSORE
We have a phrase we're trying to discourage around the house these days. It's called "Monkey see, monkey do," and it's an odd little phrase I used to use when I was an organ grinder, but now we use it for the kids. Anything they see on television, they imitate. That's how we came up with the black list -- the shows they're not allowed to watch. From violent cartoons to professional wrestling to "The Three Stooges," we put the parental kibosh on most of them. We even had to stop taking them to the art museum after they saw a Dali painting and we later caught them putting all our clocks in the microwave.
We do let them watch the classic cartoons, because, admittedly, I'm like a five-year-old and I love that stuff. But we've come to regret this as well. It happened after the kids watched the "Tom and Jerry" episode in which the faucet runs until water fills the kitchen and then it freezes it so Tom, Jerry, and the baby mouse can ice skate. After that, we caught the kids flooding the kitchen and throwing ice and ice cream and other frozen foods on the floor in hopes of doing some figure skating. It was a mess we did not enjoy cleaning up. Next, we decided we would only let them read. But soon after this decision, they read "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe." Our oldest took a baseball bat to his closet, hoping to bust his way into Narnia.
It was no wonder the kids had an affinity for imitating what they saw on television. My brother and I were the same way at their age. There were the countless times we tried to go through our walls imitating the old Kool-Aid ads, the time my brother was beaten up at school for dressing like Boy George, and the time we tried to adopt some kids after watching "Diff'rent Strokes."
There were two things in particular that led to our downfall. One was the Tom Hanks movie "Big." We wanted desperately to be adults -- to drive, to drink, and to watch R- and X-rated movies. One weekend, as luck would have it, the carnival was in town, so we got to visit our father. He brought us to a machine much like the one that granted Tom Hanks his wish.
Now, here's where the second thing comes into play. My brother and I, of course, were big cartoon fans. We'd come home for school every day and watch our favorite trio of shows: "Thundercats," "G.I. Joe," and "Transformers." A Transformer was a giant robot that could transform into something: a car, a plane, a gun. We decided there was nothing bigger or stronger than a Transformer. Long story short, our father couldn't have guessed that the carnival machine would actually work. My brother and I became two giant robots. I turned into a jet plane, my brother a shotgun. We ruined the carnival and terrorized the entire town. God knows how many people were killed. Then, my brother jumped into me and we flew off into the sunset. We were lucky enough to meet two nice robotic girls and we started our own families on an island in Hawaii. We had to kill all the human inhabitants, of course.
Michael Frissore's first book is "Poetry is Dead" (Coatlism Press, 2009). His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Monkeybicycle, Monkey Kettle, Fear of Monkeys, Gold Dust's "Solid Gold Anthology," Is This Reality?, Sein Und Werden, The Oddville Press, and elsewhere. His short story, "The Smell of Eggnog in the Morning," was recently nominated for Dzanc Books' "Best of the Web 2010 Anthology." He has written for The Tucson Citizen, Flak, Slurve, and other publications. Mike grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Oro Valley, Arizona with his wife and son. Michael can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.