The Saga of Howard, and how he finally got back in touch

Howard was a sock monkey.

My sock monkey.

And when I went on a trip to Florida in 1998, he decided to jump ship.

Made from scratch and lovingly sewed by my mom as a Valentine’s Day gift when I was small (at right), Howard was the beloved brother of Harold — my sister’s sock monkey — and we were rarely apart. When we went to Miami and I got a horrendous sunburn (born of my own stupidity, yes), I wasn’t in my right mind. And somewhere in my overheated delirium, my beloved friend slipped away.

The picture below, snapped on a Florida balcony, is the very last time photo I have of Howard. (Please pay no attention to my terrible hair, Hanson hat and smug, sunburned smile. I was 12.) Though I considered splashing it on milk cartons across the nation, I never quite had the opportunity.

And Howard, in all his self-absorbed craziness, never bothered to send me a postcard from his new digs in South Beach.

Last week, I wrote a column for the newspapers where I work detailing my sock monkey’s abrupt disappearance from my life — and how, in the aftermath, I tend to see sock monkeys everywhere. I love them, of course — so much so that I bought one for Spencer and he got one for me for my birthday! I see sock monkeys on calendars, in commercials, on book covers. They’re everywhere.

In my column I talked about the summers Howard spent with Katie and me at my grandparents’ home, and how my mom re-glued his eyes and tied him a Valentine’s bow. I also expressed my displeasure that he wouldn’t even bother to call his own brother and let him know where he was headed . . . I mean, he and Harold are flesh and sock.

Well, the Saga of Howard was a big hit. Coworkers, friends, family and readers have emailed, called and popped in to inquire about my runaway monkey.

And yesterday? Yesterday, I got an anonymous letter in the mail.

From Howard.

Kelly popped into my office with a plain white envelope. My name was written in careful script across the front and, in lieu of any return address, “Howard The Sock Monkey” sat in the corner. Inside was a single sheet of white paper with these typed words:


My Dearest Meg,

Hello, from Howard, your long-lost sock friend.

I’m sorry for the greetings I failed to send . . .

But do not fear, my life is good

Having so much fun that I thought I never could!

You see, Harold often cramped my style and stole the spotlight —

And to be quite honest, we often partook in sock fights!

But I so enjoyed Florida and visits to Grandma

Truly reveling in the many things I saw!

I hid in El Paso Hotel, for there was more I wanted to see . . .

But I regret the pain I caused of your missing me.

I’ll never forget my very best friend

Or your Mom’s love for my life and the many sewing mends.

Never forget — you were the best —

Hey, tell me, is Harold still a sock monkey pest?

From my calendar photos I’m doing well, as you can see —

They’ll forever keep memories alive for you, Meg,

From Howard, your ‘lil sock monkey.


I’m not going to lie to you guys — I’m pretty sure this is the coolest thing ever.

As soon as I was done reading the poem aloud to my coworkers, I sat in shocked silence. I mean, wow. My sister was the next one to hearing my rousing rendition of the verse, and by then I practically had the whole thing memorized. Spencer read it. My dad heard it while making pancakes. I’m emailing it to my mom, and reading it to my grandmother at lunch today.

It’s postmarked from Southern Maryland, where my column runs twice a week, but I know the truth: Howard is really out there.

And his writing skills have dramatically improved from when he was helping me with my seventh-grade English essays.

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22 thoughts on “The Saga of Howard, and how he finally got back in touch

  1. Oh this is wonderful news! 🙂 My daughter, 4, has had the same sad even happen to her with her sock monkey. We have replaced her Chester with others, but she still dreams of finding him one day. She still wonders if he’s happy.

  2. I’m so glad you heard from Howard! That is a real treat. He is such a cute little monkey and it sounds like he’s had a great life these past 12 years. What a relief!
    I left my teddy bear, known as ‘Teddy’, at a hotel when I was a kid. And when I came home we called the hotel and they found him! He was shipped back to me and he still lives with me (unfortunately, my fiance won’t let him sleep in our bed. Is this getting weird? Yes, I think it’s getting weird). But I don’t know what I would do without him 🙂

  3. Ok, let the truth me told — I sold Howard to passing gypsies for 20 pieces of gold. I hated that monkey then, and I hate him now. Always staring at me in judgment. Well, how do you like your new life now, Howard? Say hi to that evil-eyed fortune teller I sold you to.

  4. I LOVE that you and your sister named your sock monkeys Howard and Harold. For some reason, that just made my day. What a great story – and your dad’s comment was hilarious!

  5. This is the sweetest story! I’m so glad you heard from your long-lost friend.

    My brother lost a small stuffed dog named “Jofy” at a Columbus, Ohio McDonald’s. He was four. To this day, when we drive from DC to Indiana to visit my family in the summer, we’ll wonder if Jofy is behind the counter or chillin’ in the Playland…

    Old toys make me think of the most tear-inducing movie sequence ever:

  6. OMG…that is just too amazing…have you ever read Flat Stanley? You should…

    My husband did not have a sock monkey until one of his co workers found out about it and bought him one…he sits proudly on a chair in my husband’s study…they are very attached to each other but that is the way of a sock monkey…

  7. My beloved 15-year-old Smokey dog disappeared sometime between Sophomore and Junior years of college and my heart is still broken. At least Howard had the decency to write!

  8. Pingback: Almost Wordless Wednesday: Sock monkey love | write meg!

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