The Butterfly Effect and the Infinite Monkey Theorem: Part Two

A notion is an ethereal thing. It doesn't make the scene, compliments of us sitting pensively, attempting to will it into existence. There is no formula at our disposal to magically conjure it up. As if we humans have that much pull. No, it's like we're not even in the loop during the process until the last minute, as though the heavy lifting was conveniently being done by some other entity while we sat idly in the next room watching an old Star Trek rerun or talking on the phone with a friend. So while I did have a vague awareness that something was up during the early part of my drive home from the supermarket, it wasn't until I regarded the beseeching tone in Ken's voice and the obvious desperation in his eyes that the notion was front and center. And the fact that a monkey was involved?... gotta say, a definite tipping point. That's right, Ken had a monkey. Diapered. Well-behaved. Sitting shotgun in his aqua-colored 1966 Chevy Corvair, calmly witnessing his master being arrested after blowing a 0.14 into the breathalyzer.

So, what initially seemed like a benign series of events going nowhere fast had suddenly gained momentum and status, snowballing inexorably into next-level territory. A milk run, a broken water main, a doddering check-writer, a stranger offering a detour, a friend getting a DUI, my opportunity to repay a long-standing debt--all intertwined in this labyrinth of chance circumstances culminating in the eight-word plea: "Jim, I need you to babysit Peter Tork." Right away, I knew that this was my opening to parlay a now obvious butterfly effect into an infinite monkey theorem test run, a fantastical concept that I'd never dreamed could actually reach fruition. Peter Tork, such an on-the-nose moniker, referencing the bass player for The Monkees, a mid-sixties sitcom designed to emulate the antics of the wildly successful Beatles' hit flims, "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help", was Ken's pet monkey, an unwitting primate about to take part in one super cockamamie experiment.

The "Infinite Monkey Theorem", simply stated: Given enough time, a monkey can type out Shakespeare's "Macbeth". Like I said... super cockamamie. Never in a zillion years. Not even close. Hell, the spacer bar maneuvers alone would mess that simian up. Nevertheless, I'd always viewed the butterfly effect in the same light. And now?...Exactly. Arriving home last night with Tork in tow, I immediately searched my closet, finding my blue Smith Corona typewriter. That and a couple reams of typing paper. Having been a writer for such a long time meant I actually had this stuff at my disposal (yet another aspect of the butterfly effect, decades in the making?). I gave the monkey a brief tutorial, inserted a fresh piece of paper into the typewriter table, turned the carriage knob, set the margins and left him to his own devices while I made a break for the kitchen to put on a fresh pot of coffee, smiling like a Cheshire cat, knowing full well I had more than an ample supply of milk.

To say I was jazzed at that moment would be an egregious understatement, my usual unwavering skepticism having been tossed aside like an old rag doll. In its stead, a sudden assuredness, a matter-of-fact intensity and a complete tunnel vision focused on the one master plan: getting Tork to write Macbeth. After the enormity of what had taken place, how could he not? I mean, this extensive string of chance occurences all miraculously dovetailing together to provide me with an actual chimpanzee, the typewriter and paper at the ready, were too perfect to be a fluke. And then, to have the solution to this once-seemingly unsolvable monkey theorem simultaneously providing the dramatic end result to the butterfly effect--Tork's masterpiece being my hurricane in Texas--clearly right here within my grasp? It just had to be in the cards. It was all too perfect. Like it was somehow meant to be... C'mon now, you see it, right?!

So yeah, that was my take during the time it took to consume my first pot of coffee. Hours later and well into the second, having checked on Tork numerous times in between, his best effort up to then being "flkj;aa" and not "Enter Barnardo and Francisco, two sentinels.", Macbeth's actual opening line, I was, admittedly, a tad concerned. But I managed to buck up, soothing myself with the ol' "Rome wasn't built in a day" line and the "If at first you don't succeed, blah, blah, blah" bit. Embracing the "monkey see, monkey do" school of thought, I reiterated my earlier hands-on tutorial to Tork, adding words of encouragement like, "C'mon, now, Petey, let's you and I make some history, huh, pal?" Gotta say, he appeared receptive, and things seemed to be picking up as the keystrokes were fast and furious immediately after I left the room. I breathed a sigh of relief, telling myself to be patient, that it'll happen. It had to. All the groundwork's been laid, the yeoman's work completed.

And so, here we are, where this story first began, with me telling you I had a monkey in the next room sitting in front of a typewriter. I'm into my third pot of coffee now, desperately trying to convince myself that the "It's darkest before the dawn" line somehow has relevance as the sun begins to appear on the horizon. Tork?... Yeah, he's still at it, typing away. His last effort, "arpnp;a/trnpqpnrvnp;j;nw" not cutting it at all (it's like the spacer bar doesn't even exist!). Me?... Caffeinated into next Tuesday, a bit shell-shocked over what's transpired the last ten hours and, truth be told, realizing all too well that the writing is on the wall (just not on the page). The dream is over. You can't get there from here. Houston, we have a problem. All that stuff.

Have to admit, though, for a brief instant the totally improbable seemed within reach, the years of built-up cynicism tossed aside, the rose-colored glasses donned, depicting a brave new world where anything was possible. Where actual magic was commonplace. Where maybe, just maybe, everything somehow fit ever so perfectly together in a preordained manner, giving us reason to breathe easier knowing, in the end, there's no need to fear. That it's all going to be alright. Can you imagine? I mean, how comforting is that? If only...

Huh, just realizing, it's been quiet in the other room for a while now. Too quiet... You don't think?... Could it possibly be?... Hold on; gimme a sec...

... Alright, so Tork's flingin' his feces. Gotta go.