For those who missed out on the soap box derby, here’s something I bet you did have as a child—A Barrel of Monkeys. I was cleaning out a drawer and found a miniature barrel of monkeys that had been my key chain some years ago until the chain broke off. It brought back memories of playing with this very simple game in the days before 3-D ultra action video games!
For anyone who was raised on Mars and is unfamiliar with this toy—you simply dumped the plastic monkeys out of the barrel and then took turns trying to string them together, using only one hand to pick them up. Trust me, that isn’t as easy as it sounds!
For my blog fans who are history lovers like me, here’s another useless historical tidbit—the Old English Dictionary links the first use of this phrase to the mid 1800’s when the expression “a cage of monkeys” came to mean something “extremely clever, mischievous, disorderly, fun, etc.” Over the years, the expression alternated between “a cage of monkeys,” “a box of monkeys,” “a bushel of monkeys,” and “a barrel of monkeys.” Then some clever person decided to make a game from the phrase, obviously chose the “barrel” expression and that version became permanently embedded in the brains of us baby boomers as we manipulated our little plastic monkeys.
I explained this game to Stretch and asked if he wanted to play. He took one look at the little plastic toys, shook his head and said I should come play with HIS barrel of monkeys, I’d have a lot more fun.