I could write a book about misheard song lyrics, and maybe someday I will. From Jimi Hendrix’s “excuse me, while I kiss this guy” to Dylan’s “knock knock knockin on Kevin’s door.” But one of the most persistent misheard lyrics in my mind has been the Rolling Stones song “Bitch.” Which says “must be love, it’s a bitch.” For many years, in fact until only recently, I heard “monkey love, it’s a bitch.” Granted, monkey love makes no sense, but I was greatly disappointed when I learned the true lyrics. Such a letdown.
I have no great love for the monkeys of the Grand Palm Hotel and Casino in Gaborone, Botswana, however. They are menacing little terrorists. Troops of vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus pygerythrus) inhabit the lush green hotel grounds. They have become bold and daring. Perhaps encouraged by occasional feedings from naive tourists, they now have no fear of human beings, even though we outweigh our little primate cousins by hundreds of pounds.
Interestingly, these clever little monkeys have determined that human females pose no threat. They will run from men, but stand their ground to women. Yesterday I witnessed a waitress carrying a full tray of drinks to a pool-side visitor. Halfway to the table a group of monkeys attacked her, leaping on her to grab the contents of her tray. She screamed and dropped the tray and ran. The monkeys grabbed all the sugar packets and absconded to various safe vantage points to indulge in the sweetness of their ill-gotten booty. Several fights ensued as the pecking order was established among the haves and have nots of stolen sugar. The more clever monkeys found hiding places in which to sate their sugar cravings in peace.
This sometimes amusing interaction between humans and one of our closer relatives, is just a reminder of the difficulty of coexisting with nature. As human development infringes on animal spaces, some animals adapt, and others suffer. Monkey love. It’s a bitch.