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Some years ago our younger son, a U.S. Marine, went to the American Embassy in Zimbabwe, Africa, as a Marine Guard. Among his many odd and varied adventures he took a few trips into the countryside to photograph and hunt game.
On one such safari there was little game but his guide, a native of the region, encouraged him to shoot a baboon. Baboons are unpopular as they attack the villages and the natives eat them. That baboon had just begun his travels.
After shooting it, our son had the head mounted while the natives happily barbecued it. Brian was invited to taste the meat and later told us it all tasted like chicken and wasn't bad. Brian had the head mounted as a souvenir of his safari.
Knowing his proclivity for collecting odd things I immediately conveyed the message to him that the baboon was not, I repeat, not coming into our house. I informed him that when he gets married I am sure his future wife will not take kindly to it either. It is not a decoration for the faint hearted.
This creature, mounted with teeth bared, was unquestionably horrendously ugly. It was so disconcerting that when Brian hung it over his desk at work, his commanding officer got visibly upset.
At that point Brian added a beret and a pair of eyeglasses which didn't seem to comfort the poor guy much.
When Brian left Africa the baboon started some serious traveling. First stop was at his next embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, which is something of a world trouble spot. The baboon sat out the ongoing troubles and didn't vacate the embassy when all the non-essential personnel left. After about 18 months in Jakarta, Brian returned stateside briefly and moved on to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while the baboon did a stay at an uncle's attic in northern Ohio.
The uncle offered us a tour of his attic to see the ugly baboon. We declined and told him we were so happy it was at his house. After Brian returned home from Cuba, the baboon did a stretch in his older brother's basement outside of Minneapolis.
Since his older brother has a limited time frame for tolerating family antics bordering on the creepy, the baboon eventually had to move out to a small town in West Virginia where Brian did a stint at a reserve base.
"Where is the baboon?" I cautiously inquired?
"Oh it's on the wall above my desk again."
"The baboon travels a lot and why don't you donate it to a natural history museum?" I asked. Our son acted insulted as if I was giving away the family dog, who would likely move out if she got a look at that thing. Brian wouldn't budge.
At that point I happened to be discussing the critter with my doctor, who had been a missionary to Zimbabwe, and he informed me that the natives do like to eat baboons as they are pretty vicious and do barbecue pretty well. I told him we could forego this gourmet adventure.
The baboon has since moved with Brian to a duty station in Southern California. He has informed us he may get married next year. I informed him he'd better get married before the baboon moves into full view. He has an uncle in Texas who loves nature and he's thinking this baboon hasn't seen Texas yet.