This Monkey's Gone to Heaven

Why do kids torment guinea pigs? Whose guinea pig are we?

On the same river the next morning, in the shadow of a burping refinery and a sleepy downtown, two three-year-olds twirled to the sound of a rock band at the Minnesota Irish Fair. One of the toddler's fathers was onstage, hungover from three weeks of nonstop gigs, day jobs, and new fatherhood. As his golden-haired son did an interpretive dance beneath him, the father sang, "Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic." Sweat poured from the singer's work shirt. His wife and infant son napped a few miles away. His mother, brother, sister, and niece beamed from the cheap seats.

All the while, a faux debate swirled about creationism, evolution, and Intelligent Design, and the words of the only ID that matters (Iris DeMent) echoed out across the prairie:


Some say they're goin' to a place called Glory
And I ain't sayin' it ain't a fact
But I've heard that I'm on the road to purgatory
And I don't like the sound of that
I believe in love and I live my life accordingly
But I choose to let the mystery be
I think I'll let the mystery be


A coda to that song: Five days after the park experiment, one of the kids found the guinea pig dead in his cage. A shoebox was located. A hole was dug. A funeral was held. A fresh guinea pig was purchased ($35). With so many unanswered questions flying about, it was difficult then or now to just let the mystery be--or, as Iris herself sings it, "Easy's getting harder every day."

Jim Walsh can be reached at 612.372.3775 or

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