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How Curious George Got His Name
June 30, 2001
by
Art Bushwald

Ever since the Man in the Black Cowboy Hat and his friends had helped steal the Great Election, George the Chimp was having a barrel of monkeys pretending to be President of the United States. George got to live in the Big White House and sit at a big desk. Most of the time, George would put his feet up on the desk, lie back in his chair, and dream about his home back in the bush. Then, when he woke up from his reverie, he would swing over to the gym for nice long workout on the monkey bars. One day he found a little red button. "Don't push that button!" said the Man in the Black Cowboy Hat. "At least, not now. Maybe later." George jumped and screeched in anticipation of getting to push that button. How he loved being in the Big White House!

Another thing George loved to do was making monkeyshines! One of the first things he did after moving into the Big White House was start telling people that the Big Dog who had lived in the Big White House before he did made a terrible mess of the place when he left. For weeks and weeks, all the people from the newspapers and television were falling over each to tell the whole world what a bad dog Big Dog had been. George laughed and laughed, because he had caused such a commotion by saying something that wasn't even true. But he knew he could get away with it, because nobody could stay mad at him.

George loved to travel. And he loved to give people money, especially his very rich friends, like the Man in the Black Cowboy Hat. He loved to give himself money, too! So he went around the country telling everyone that the most important thing in the whole wide world was to give money to rich people. And everywhere he went, people were wildly cheering and clapping for him. That made him very happy! But he hated it when people weren't cheering for him. So sometimes, if people were holding up little signs that said "Bad Monkey!", he had them thrown on the ground and arrested.

Every day when he was in the Big White House, he would wake bright and early, put on his finest monkey suit, and go to his big office with the Man in the Black Cowboy Hat, who would give him lots of important-looking papers. George was a clever little chimp who had learned to sign his name, and he enjoyed writing it on every piece of paper that the Man in the Black Cowboy Hat gave him. The papers were taking money away from women and children and poor people. The Man in the Black Cowboy Hat said they deserved it because they weren't born into privileged families. Besides, they probably didn't vote for George! The thought that someone didn't vote for him made George very, very angry, so he signed all the papers! But signing the papers made him glad, and he scratched his armpits and jumped up and down to show how happy he was.

Other things were happening, too. One day, a Big Man from a faraway land on the other side of the Great Ocean came to visit George. The Big Man had become famous by winning a world prize for promoting peace with his neighbor. But George thought that peace was a boring thing, and fidgeted the whole time that the Big Man was his guest. First, he would stick a hundred dollar bill up his nose. Then he would yawn, and scratch his behind. George did not like his visitor, because he wanted to build a missile umbrella in the sky, and to do this, he needed everyone to fear the Big Man's neighbor. So George told the Big Man to prepare for war, not peace, and gave him a swift kick as he walked out the door. And all of George's friends from the newspapers and television exclaimed "What a charming little monkey!"

Another time, something called a surveillance plane from George's country was flying too close to a Big Bad Country, and a plane from the Big Bad Country bumped into the surveillance plane and caused it to crash land - in the Big Bad Country! Then all the people in the surveillance plane were taken prisoner! What was George to do? He was the Monkey-in-Chief. He had to show everyone in his country that he could do his job as well as any human. So George told the Big Bad Country to give back the plane and its crew, or else! "Or else what?" sneered the Big Bad Country. "Or else, I'll say I'm sorry," whimpered George. So George said he was very sorry - twice - and the people in the plane came home!

"Little George has shown that he can handle a foreign crisis as well as any human!" raved the Washington Post.

"George's deft handling of the Big Bad Country shows that he is truly a Wonder Chimp!" beamed the New York Times. "He's even more Bonzo than Bonzo!" (Bonzo was the name of another simian who had been president twenty years before.)

All the people around George were happy. The Woman Named Karen was so proud of the little monkey that she held him up in front of all the television and newspaper people with a big grin on her face. "He grilled his staff during the crisis!" she chirped. "He peppered them with questions! He asked, 'Do the people in the plane have bibles? Can we send them bibles? How long would it take to send bibles to them?' Oh, he was so curious!"

And that's how Curious George got his name.


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