For Dancing Alone

September 6, 2008
By Danielle Watson, Wilmington, NC

There once was an organ grinder who lived a very descent life performing on the streets for the coins that feed him and kept a roof over his head. He was satisfied living day to day off the contributions of others, because he had never needed more than they had to offer. Music was more than what he did, it was his life, and he was always content to play.

One day when he was out on the street corner, playing to his heart's content, a little monkey appeared and stopped to listen. Now on this day, although the streets were crowded, the organ grinder had not received much of an audience. So when confronted with the monkey he became happy, because now he had someone to play to. With this new happiness he began to play a song that was upbeat and full of swing. When the monkey heard this song he began to dance.

Now a little monkey dancing on the street is a sight to behold for many, and it quickly drew a crowd. The organ grinder was so very happy because he enjoyed watching the monkey dance, he enjoyed being able to play for a crowd, and he enjoyed how giving everyone was with their money. All afternoon the organ grinder played and the monkey danced.

When it became dark and the crowds were dispersing the organ grinder turned to the monkey and said, “Where did you come from, little monkey? Did you escape from the zoo?”

The monkey who had stopped dancing when the music stopped slumped down in the street and yawned.

“Oh, you must be a tired little monkey? Come. I shall take you home.” The organ grinder picked the monkey up in one hand with his bag of money, and in the other hand he picked up his organ. Then he walked home.

After that day the monkey and the organ grinder became fast friends. From then on the monkey would accompany the organ grinder as he performed on the streets. Everyone loved to watch the monkey dance, and the monkey loved to dance, and the organ grinder loved to play as the monkey danced. With all the money the organ grinder got he was able to feed himself and the monkey with ease. Soon the organ grinder was able to afford a better home, one that would be warmer and cozier in the winter. He was also able to buy a small bed for the monkey to sleep in. Things had never been better for the organ grinder and he had never been happier, because now he had a friend.

About a year later, as the organ grinder and the monkey did their gig on the street, the organ grinder looked up from his music and realized that their was no audience. He was playing his music and the monkey was dancing, but the crowd was just passing them by. Come to think of it he had been noticing his pockets becoming light over the months, but why. They used to be a hit, what had happened. As he pondered this a mother stopped with her little girl in the street and pointed at the monkey.

“Look, look, there is a little monkey.” The woman said, “See him dance?”

The little girls face lit up when she saw the monkey and she began to clap for him. Seeing her excitement the organ grinder decided to step it up a bit, and he began to play louder. But as he played the little girl wrinkled her nose and covered her ears.

“Mommy, why is he making that awful sound?”

The organ grinder faltered. Awful? He listened to what he was playing, inspecting each note closely. Awful, it was not awful. It was music, just as he had always played.

The mother, embarrassed by her daughter's inquiry, quickly hustled her away. The organ grinder was left with the stinging truth, his music, which sounded great to his ears, was outdated and sounded awful to the modern world. Dejected, he packed up and began to leave.

However, the monkey, who had not realized it was time to go, continued dancing. Low and behold, as he danced a crowd drew near. When the organ grinder saw what was happening, he took out his organ and resumed playing as happy as ever. But to his horror, once he began to play the crowd drifted apart again, and he realized they had come to watch the monkey not to hear him preform.
After the crowd left, he put away his organ and crouched down so that he was level with the monkey.

“They do not like my playing, but they like to watch you dance.” He said somberly. “And you like to dance for a crowd, don't you little monkey.” The monkey stared up at him without a sound. “I am only holding you back. You deserve an audience, little monkey. I am keeping them away.”

The organ grinder sat back and thought silently to himself. He only new of one thing to do and it would make him very sad, but it was what was best for the monkey. He stood up and said, “You shall dance, little monkey, and crowds with gather at your feet. You will become great, a great, great star, and everyone will love you. You stay here little monkey. Dance alone and become a star.”

With that the organ grinder picked up his organ and turned away. The monkey took his advice and started dancing alone, and soon he had a whole crowd of adoring fans. And he was loved.

Back at his house the organ grinder sat down in a heap of despair, placing his organ on the table beside him. He had lost everything. A friend, his music, everything was gone. He looked at his organ and despised it.

“This is all your fault,” He said. “Soon I will run out of money, go hungry, and die, because you are outdated and awful.”

In his despair he shoved the organ off the table. As it hit the floor it let out a soft note. A note that might not have been beautiful to modern ears, but sounded beautiful to him. The organ grinder sighed and picked the organ up off the floor. He did not hate his music, he loved it. He began to think about the root of his despair, and as he thought he played.

A sad, melancholy sound echoed through the room. No he did not hate his music. His music was his life. He did not hate anything, he decided, simply felt resentment. But towards what? As the last notes from his organ died down, he came to an understanding. He resented the monkey, for dancing alone.

The author's comments:
My inspiration for this piece came from a personal relationship I am currently in with a really great guy. Now, I'm sure many people will agree with me when I say that sometimes, within a relationship, one person may feel like the other is better off without them. This was the case for me. When I left my significant other to go to college, I allowed him the opportunity to see other people; to dance alone. This raises the question, is it right for the organ grinder to resent the monkey for doing what it was told? Is it right for me to resent my lover for dancing alone?

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This article has 4 comments.

Author said...
on Sep. 12 2008 at 4:33 pm
Good question. The answer is no. It is a fictional story and one must suspend their sense of disbelief. The monkey goes off to live 'the happily ever after life" and never returns to the organ grinder. Although you are right to think that the monkey can't possibly take care of himself in the world of humans, but this is the case. Don't worry the monkey is fine and he lives a long happy life.

urbffj said...
on Sep. 11 2008 at 8:52 pm
though it isn't fair, its natural. If you want to keep him to urself, i think he would understand....but i can see how u dont wnat to end up despising u. Its always ur decision and one you have to make n deal with. im here, always PS -this is an AMAZING story

on Sep. 11 2008 at 8:42 pm
What a great, sad story! But if the monkey dances alone til night, he'll obviously return home to organ grinder, right?

dahcee said...
on Sep. 11 2008 at 6:24 pm
I love it! So true, and beautifully written!


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