I Was a 130 Pound Gorilla

Singing gorillas

I know I write a lot of hyperbolic, self-deprecating posts, 
but in this case it’s true:

There was a time when I was a gorilla.

Of course, I don’t mean this in the “hairy beast” sense of the word. I was, actually, a gorilla, or at least, I dressed up as one. It wasn’t a weird fetish or anything. It was a job. I wore a gorilla suit when I delivered singing telegrams.

Screen Shot 2013-09-06 at 8.09.32 PMThis part of my extensive job history isn’t a big secret, but I haven’t talked about it much because it was short-lived and didn’t really have anything to do with my later career as a writer. However, it happened to come up in a recent interview I did for Parade Magazine and for some reason, has garnered a great deal of interest from people. I suppose it is a novel career choice. You don’t often hear about people majoring in Gorilla Grams in college, doing gorilla suit-clad internships, or telling their parents they want to be a singing ape when they grow up. For most of us, it is a way station en route to whatever our real career will be… kind of like waiting tables if you are an unemployed actor, or sexting if you are an out of work politician.

In my case, I started out as an office temp, but when I got fired left that job, I thought it would be a good career move to sing to people, for money, in a gorilla suit. It wasn’t a bad job. The money was pretty good. The hours weren’t bad. And for someone who was kind of shy, delivering singing telegrams in a monkey suit was actually really empowering.
It was also kind of exhilarating.
But mostly, it was really,


I realized that the itch factor could be a career breaker on Valentine’s day.  Valentine’s Day is the busiest day of the year in the Gorilla Gram business because, clearly, nothing says “I love you” like being serenaded by a big, hairy ape. Whereas most of the time I could take off the monkey suit between telegrams and let my skin breathe, on Valentine’s Day it was pretty much nonstop gorilla gramming from first thing in the morning until late at night.  At first I was happy to have the suit on because it was really cold out and everyone knows there is nothing on this planet warmer than rubber covered synthetic gorilla fur.

However, after about 6 hours in the gorilla suit, I started to scratch. I wondered if maybe the suit had fleas, so I looked around for another gorilla to pick them off me.  But then I realized the fleas would have been on the outside and I was itching on the inside.  So, after I finished a rousing, gorilla-muffled rendition of “My Funny Valentine,” I ran to the bathroom and peeled off the suit.

I was covered from head to toe in hives. Big, red, nasty, itchy gorilla suit-induced hives.

Suddenly I knew my Gorilla Gram days were numbered.

Sadly I was forced to retire from the singing telegram business and look for a job that did not entail wearing primate attire.  I chose to work in the TV industry because it seemed like a close second:

The people didn’t dress like monkeys.  They were just a little bananas.

©2013, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

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3 responses to “I Was a 130 Pound Gorilla

  1. Great story, Tracy. It’s a story your kids can tell with pride to their prospective in-laws. sd

  2. I’m sure it’s the reason my husband married me. 😉

  3. stinkyflowers

    Now I know we’re living in parallel universes…except I worked as a rolling billboard in Manhattan. I was forced to wear an orange jumpsuit, white helmet with mohawk signage and a huge sandwich board as I roller-skated around wall street handing out flyers. No hives, but I was pushed down by an angry stock broker and was stuck on my back (like a turtle) for 27 mins. So glad youtube wasn’t around then.

    Maryellen Hooper