Let’s play a little word association game. What do you think of when I say “bananas”? I am going to take a wild guess and bet most of you said “monkeys.” But you would be wrong. The answer is “Monkees.” That’s right…with a capital M and two e’s…as in “Hey, Hey we are the…”
I am just going to lay this all out for you: I love The Monkees. LOVE them. No, I was not alive in the 1960’s. Yes, they are all older than my parents. No, I don’t think this is weird. And yes, they did play their own instruments. Don’t bug me about it.
So why am I devoting a whole page just to The Monkees? Is it because I am a tad obsessed and hope to convert everyone who reads this blog to join the great Monkee force of fans? I can’t deny either fact, but there is a deeper reason here. The Monkees are not just a band and a television show I enjoy…a lot. They mean much more to me than that. I am going to make a daring statement here and claim that The Monkees played a very large role in making me who I am today. Before you write me off as a nutcase, hear me out.
I am what you call a second-generation Monkee fan. I discovered and fell in love with them at the age of nine in 1986 when they reunited for a 20th Anniversary tour. I could go on for a millennium about what drew me to these four madcap musicians, but I realize most people really don’t care. So I won’t. What I do want to make note of is that I was the only nine-year-old I knew who held a torch for a band from a bygone generation. Try being in love with a group your mom used to be in love with while all your friends were worshiping Aerosmith and New Kids on the Block, and then tell me about conviction (remember, this was before retro was cool).
I was most certainly made fun of for being a Monkee fan and wanting to marry the wacky, adorable drummer, Micky Dolenz. But I did not care. Ironically, at a time in life when most kids are trying desperately to be carbon copies of each other to escape ridicule, I was flying my Monkee flag of uniqueness as high as I could. I heard the taunts from just about everyone: classmates, friends, teachers, random people I would meet…even my dad, who is a staunch Beatles fan, would tease me about liking the pre-fab four (he still does actually). But guess what? I survived. And that taught me a very valuable life lesson. I had stuck by what I believed, and I came out the other end pretty much unscathed. That settled into my psyche, and I could dip into that pool of confidence as I faced other situations where I knew it was best for me to go against the grain…more important situations that may have involved risky behaviors, for example. I can not say the exact thought, “I survived being made fun of for the Monkees, so I can survive being made fun of for not getting high,” ever crossed my mind, in so many words. But that experience as a pre-teen certainly conditioned me to know that I could make decisions for myself and be okay with the consequences. And there would be people out there who would like me anyway.
As I got older, fewer people would make fun of me for being a Monkee fan. In fact, quite a lot of people actually found it endearing. I like to think of it as my lovable quirk, my conversation ice-breaker, my name-one-interesting-fact-about-you ace in the hole. I sometimes wonder if my unabashed love for this much-maligned foursome actually attracts people to me. I can not help but think part of that could be because I am comfortable with who I am. I always enjoy being around people who are happy with themselves. Maybe that is also what I put out to the world when someone snidely questions, “You like The Monkees?” and I respond with a very polite version of, “Yeah, I do. So suck it.”
So go ahead, take your shots. I know who I am, and I know that I love The Monkees. What I am NOT is your Steppin’ Stone. (Sorry. Bad joke…phenomenal song.)
And just a fair warning…I am fairly certain my favorite primates will find their way into blog posts.