The night monkey lives in the forests of Central and South America, from Panama to Paraguay to Argentina.
It does not live in lava lamps, but try running that game on a 6 year old spending the night at Katie Scafetti's.
Katie's excited to have guests. She's an only child. My sister and I are wearing new matching nightgowns with our favorite Muppets on them. Add that to sleeping in the living room (novelty!) and naturally we're riled up.
Katie's father has had it with the giggles.
"You see that lava lamp?"
"That's where the night monkeys live. If you're not asleep by midnight, the night monkeys will come out and get you. You do not want to mess with the night monkeys, girls. I'm really serious."
He shuffles off to the kitchen, looks at the fridge without opening it, and goes back to bed.
Under the sheets. Under the sheets. Make a tent. Grab that corner. No! Fix it! Absolutely no outside air. That's how they get in. Heather! Katie! Help me! Come on!
[10 minutes later]
Everyone's asleep. But me.
I look at the lamp. It's red and yellow with a brushed gold base. Today's lava lamps are filled with glitter, come in fun novelty shapes and generally regarded as non-threatening objects.
This one appears to be filled with pulverized cow hearts and congealed abortion.
I think I see a face. Yes, that's definitely a night monkey's face down there at the bottom. I wonder how they come out of the lava lap. Do they just sort of ooze out the bottom or does the glass shatter and they make a splashy entrance, a la the shark in JAWS? Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
Heather? Katie? Shit. They're sleeping.
8:45. Oh my God.
9:13. Don't worry. Don't worry. You've got until midnight.
10:45. Maybe he was just putting me on.
11:19. Sleep, Erin, SLEEP. I know. I'll make a snoring noise, like in cartoons.
I finally fall asleep sometime shortly before twelve and a lot of little baby night monkeys go to bed with empty bellies that evening.
Night monkey paranoia continues for the next few years, brought on by any sort of red glowing light. The bulb in my grandma's Christmas wreath. The numbers on the alarm clock. The mood lighting in Moy's Chinese restaurant.
Twenty years later I start on at Google, where all new hires recieve a lava lamp at orientation.
Great! I'll just put this in my drawer, next to the box of staples, two thousand business cards, and everything else I will never ever use.
Oh. Wait. Everyone's using their lava lamp. EVERYONE. Look at them. All plugged in. Lighting up cubicles like little baby strip clubs. It's going to look really bad if I don't join in.
"Look Craig, she's not using her lava lamp. I question how serious this girl is about being hip and zany."
"I agree, Jennifer. I must remember to mention this to Larry and Sergey once they take a break from filling garbage bags with diamonds."
That feeling of first-day dread was a harbinger of things to come. I didn't fit in at the G, and being uncomfortable around wax-based lighting wasn't the only reason.
I quit the company 1 year later, the day after a chunk of my stock options vested.
I sent the requisite email about keeping in touch, caught one last glimpse of my office crush who looks like an Indian Jeff Goldblum, and had a screamingly awkward goodbye party out on the terrace.
The Chief Night Monkey, the one who made me cry several times in the bathroom, the pregnant Long Island ball-buster with the 30 carat diamond ring and French-manicured toenails, did not attend.
That was huge. Enormous breach of Google etiquette. You do not miss 'optional' social events. It was weird though, her doing that actually made me like her more.
Should I take it? Should I take it? I'm emptying out my desk. They'll probably think I'm bitter and sour grapes if I don't. I should. Just for professionalism's sake. But still...
In the end it was the final scene from Poltergeist that got me. When the family checks into the hotel room because their entire dwelling has been decimated by monsters.
Just before the closing credits, there's a wide exterior shot. The door to the hotel room opens and the father pushes out the TV set.
Before, I was able to tell my 6 year old brain it was all fake. But look here. Solid proof that an adult is acting irrational and scared.
That must mean it's real.
Like I said earlier, fuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
I unplug my lava lamp/night monkey bungalow, bunch up the cord, and put it in the bottom drawer of my desk, right next to the Google business cards I will no longer never use.