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The Legend of the Pink Monkey

a tale retold by Cici Clovis

In memory of Cici Clovis, a friend to many, many gifted parents in the original days of Internet gifted support mailing lists, who died December 15, 2001.  We love you, Cici!

Us Pink Monkeys have a tough time finding one another. 

Now, before you start calling the loony bin to make sure my room is ready, let me explain. Some time ago, some behavioral psychologists were studying a tribe of monkeys and how they interacted with one another. For some reason which only a behavioral psychologist could hope to understand, they dyed one of the monkeys pink and placed it back in the tribe. The other monkeys attacked it so viciously that they had to race to its rescue before it was killed.

Lesson: Being different is dangerous.

The trouble is that we all learn to wear our Brown Monkey suits to avoid being attacked, which means that we not only can't really relate to the other Brown Monkeys, we have a hard time identifying the other Pink Monkeys.

You might want to share this analogy with your intellectually gifted children. Other Pink Monkeys do exist; eventually we find each other. This has helped my kids deal with the problem of being different. It seems to me G/T people are fated never to have great, whacking crowds of friends, simply because there are so few of us. It tends to be a lifelong issue that doesn't end just because we grow up. But we almost always develop a few deep friendships that do tend to endure through the years, and these friendships are very satisfying and fulfilling relationships. I rather suspect that most of the parents who participate in TAGFAM are Pink Monkeys, themselves. As you see, we do manage to find ways to contact one another. Hang in there!

1999 Cici Clovis, reprinted with permission of the author


The origin of the pink monkey?

Researching to locate the study of the pink monkey, I found that perhaps it wasn't a study after all.  Instead, consider this quote from Robert Heinlein's Gulf, a short story in Assignment in Eternity, spoken by Kettle Belly Baldwin:

Still rarer is the man who thinks habitually, who applies reason, rather than habit pattern, to all his activity. Unless he masques himself, his is a dangerous life; he is regarded as queer, untrustworthy, subversive of public morals; he is a pink monkey among brown monkeys -- a fatal mistake. Unless the pink monkey can dye himself brown before he is caught.

The brown monkey's instinct to kill is correct; such men are dangerous to all monkey customs.

Rarest of all is the man who can and does reason at all times, quickly, accurately, inclusively, despite hope or fear or bodily distress, without egocentric bias or thalmic disturbance, with correct memory, with clear distinction between fact, assumption, and non-fact.

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