You guys remember the game “Barrel O’ Monkeys,” right?
If not, I can’t really help you on the real rules of said game. But I’m pretty sure that every child of the 80s had this little gem tucked away. At least, I know my brother did.
One boring, rainy, summer morning, I was whiling away the hours in my hot-pink bedroom, jamming to the New Kids on the Block, and wishing the rain would let up so I could go outside and play. Suddenly, my three-year-old little brother came into my room, looking for someone to entertain him.
And he had with him that holy grail of toys—the Barrel o’ Monkeys.
We may or may not have tried to figure out how the game was supposed to really work. I’m fuzzy on the details. All I know is that at some point during our play time, I thought it would be super-nifty to see what would happen if we hung the monkeys from my ceiling fan, then turned it on.
(I had an odd relationship with my ceiling fan growing up. Don’t ask me why.)
Anyhow, it was my job to attach strings of chimps from the paddles of the fan (because it was dangerous and exhilarating. Plus, I was the only one who could reach.) Meanwhile, it was Adam’s job to wait for my signal, then turn on the fan when my fingers were clear.
The fan would start spinning, slowly, and the little plastic simians would hang tight, inching slowly toward the very tip of the blade.
“Fastah, Seesy, Fastah!” the over-excited toddler would exclaim.
And so I’d pull the chain, increasing the fan’s speed to high.
Like confetti at a strip club, the monkeys went flying across every surface of my bedroom. And my little brother clapped his hands, stomped his chubby little legs, and begged for more.
When you force children to stay inside during a summer storm, things are bound to happen. One thing led to another, and before you knew it, the Barrel o’ Monkeys weren’t our only test subjects.
The more toys we added to the game, the funnier it became. Ninja Turtles, Care Bears, Magical Princess Barbie—no one was safe. We played and played for HOURS…loading up the fan, turning on the fan, laughing hysterically as the contents of our toy boxes zoomed across the room, cleaning up the carnage, starting the whole process over again.
Eventually, the rain stopped. Mom called us downstairs for lunch. And the game was forgotten when we were allowed to go outside. Stomping in mud puddles and pretending to be a backup dancer for the New Kids won out over our brand new game.
Until the next thunderstorm. Then all bets were off.
And today? If one of us mentions Barrel O’ Monkeys, we both collapse into fits of laughter. Why? Because it was the best Brother-Sister-Rainy-Day-Game, EVER.