What you need to know up front about Jack the monkey is that he doesn't instantly get along with everyone he meets. Like many people, really, Jack needs to spend a little time with you before you truly earn his trust. Perhaps Jack's owner should have considered this before he hauled the capuchin all the way from Dayton, Ohio, to Denver for the NBA All-Star Weekend in February. The owner planned on toting Jack around with him like a piece of bling -- no doubt as an ice-breaker to attract the ladies -- but the hesitant little wingman never even left the hotel. Because early on during the festivities, Jack took exception to the advances of a hotel maid and promptly bit off the tip of her finger.
"I'm pretty sure it had to be reattached," says Doug Kelley, director for Denver Animal Control and the Denver Municipal Animal Shelter.
The woman was taken to the hospital, and Kelley was called in. Working with the state's epidemiologist, he determined that the best course of action for the primate -- which is not a legal pet in Colorado -- was to quarantine him for thirty days and make sure no signs of rabies developed. So Jack was taken to the Denver Municipal Animal Shelter, where he quickly became a staff favorite.
"He was very personable," Kelley comments. "He liked to ride around on some of our staff members' shoulders. Some people he didn't like for no other reason than he just didn't like them. But for the most part, the people that were around a lot he got along with fine."
At the shelter, Jack displayed numerous entertaining idiosyncrasies, including a penchant for junk food and a variety of funny faces, chirps and clicks. He was also extremely fond of the baby-blue miniature Carmelo jersey that he was wearing when he arrived. Every time a shelter staffer attempted to remove it, Jack would grow irritable and retreat to a corner or lash out. Eventually, the jersey started giving him a rash, so shelter handlers anesthetized Jack and removed it.
Last week, after the thirty-day quarantine expired, Jack's owner returned, claimed his naughty monkey and took him back home to Ohio. Shelter staffers will miss him.
"He was a very interesting little guy," Kelley explains. "He was a lot of fun to have around. I don't think he would make the best of pets, though. He was very fond of throwing his excrement at people...and, well, self-stimulation."
Flight risk: Although sales of the latest Alicia Keys album are sky-high, her computer's still grounded. Flying with her 29-person entourage from Austin to Denver on March 9 for a concert at the Colorado Convention Center with R&B crooner John Legend, the soul diva left her laptop on a Frontier jet. Fearing a fan might consider the PC a pop-culture souvenir, Frontier management kept the laptop under lock and key until a member of the singer's crew picked it up as they flew out of Denver for a date in Phoenix.
Unfortunately, Keys forgot the laptop again -- this time in the boarding area. It remains in custody at DIA baggage services.
Generally, we here at Off Limits were neither the bully nor the bullied. Of course, there were those Cherry Creek High School kids we tortured by whuppin' their rich asses in debate and then sold nasty weed to at exorbitant prices. But was that bullying, or simply a strong entrepreneurial sense? After discovering that the Cherry Creek School District is the birthplace of Bully-Proofing Your School, a nationwide non-profit violence-prevention training program, we called standup comic/CCSD psychologist Larry Epstein and bullied him into answering a few questions.
Q: What do you think could have been done to prevent the shootings in Red Lake, Minnesota? What warning signs should the community have been looking for?
A: I am always cautious about commenting on such tragedies, as it is easy to be the Monday-morning quarterback, so to speak. In general, there have typically been one or more people who have heard concerning comments made by the shooter prior to the shooting. I read one report quoting some friends of the boy involved in the Red Lake shooting stating that he had made some comments about shooting up the school. It is important that students take such comments seriously and that they have a means to let someone know that there is a potentially dangerous situation -- for example, via an anonymous safety hotline. We have such a hotline in Colorado: 1-877-542-SAFE.
Q: Where is the line between bullying and stupid kid behavior?
A: The old notions of bullying were bigger kids beating up smaller kids for their lunch money. But it's really any kind of imbalance of power. It can be physical, like hitting and kicking, but it can also be more verbal, such as teasing, rumor-spreading. Cliques. Social exclusion. Relational aggression. Mean Girls , that type of thing. There is typical conflict, and then there is bullying, and the difference primarily is the imbalance of power. In bullying situations, one person has some kind of power over the other -- physical strength or social savvy. In non-bullying, the kids have equal status, equal power. They're just kind of razzing each other.
Q: What's the biggest reason you see for bullying?
A: There are a lot of myths. Often there is a belief that bullies have low self-esteem, which isn't true. They have a lot of power and not a lot of remorse or empathy for the victim; that makes for some pretty good self-esteem. There's not one specific road to being a bully, but the bottom line is power. Actually, we encourage the bullies to go into politics if they can't change their behavior.
Q: How does one become an expert on bullying? Do you have to have been bullied or be the bully?
A: I hope not, because I wasn't.
Q: Do you have kids? Do they get bullied for having a bullying-expert father?
A: One of them is just eight weeks old, so she hasn't had to experience that. My other daughter is two and a half, and at that age, there's not a lot of bullying -- well, except for her bullying us by telling us "No." But actually, we just released Bully-Proofing in Early Childhood. We don't talk about bullying so much at that age, but teaching how to resolve conflicts peaceably.
Q. Who was a bigger bully, Bugs Bunny or Wile E. Coyote?
A: An excellent question. They are both bullies. Bugs tends to be more of a clever type of bully. And Wile E. Coyote would be what we call the provocative victim. He looks like a bully, but he's not an effective bully. But, of course, his backing from Acme gives him quite a bit of power.