Previously, the NIH had gotten mice drunk. This was far less expensive. No surprise--everybody knows that mice are cheap dates. Monkeys are a lot more guarded. You really have to ply a monkey with drinks before he'll start believing that you are really appreciating him as a fellow primate instead of just getting him drunk so you can grab his banana.
Still, 3.2 million seems like a lot of money. To put it in personal terms, I've been around a lot longer than most of those monkeys and I don't think I've spent three million dollars on alcohol in my entire life. I've determined that by a simple calculation—I haven't made three million dollars in my working career, and I've spent at least some of what I have made on things other than drinking, like oil changes and sugary cereals, to name two I can remember offhand.
And it seems suspiciously wasteful because if the NIH wanted to find out the effect of alcohol on body tissue, it could have asked me or any other drunk American. The simple answer is that alcohol makes my body tissue better looking. I look in the mirror after I have a few beers and instead of seeing a bald guy on the verge of leaving middle age behind I see a guy with really handsome body tissue. Then I leave the men's room, in nine cases out of ten still sober enough to remember to zip up, and when I return to the bar I notice all the other people there have gotten better-looking, too. It doesn't take a big government study to conclude that this is the result of their consuming alcohol as well.
It is difficult to imagine that determining if drinking makes monkeys better-looking is a valid government objective, because most citizens don't care about monkey appeal. People who are habitually suspicious of government programs note that when they buy other people drinks in bars, it is usually with the aim of making the drink recipient so good-looking that the drink buyer will want to have sex with them. This leads these cynics to believe that the government wants to have sex with its monkeys, so badly that a three million dollar bar tab seems a small price to pay for it.
I don't think so. I refuse to think of government employees as a bunch of monkey-intercoursers, although some of the results the government achieves would seem to justify this opinion. I think critics of the drinking monkey program fail to realize that getting monkeys drunk consists of more than just feeding them liquor. Assuming the government buys its booze from the lowest bidder, we're talking well drinks, cheap suds and Gallo. No way that's going to add up to three million bucks. But then you have to build the monkeys watering holes to toss back a few in, and in order to duplicate the effect of drinking on humans, it can't just be one giant tavern which someone will inevitably name The Monkey Bar. No, we have to duplicate the human experience by starting the underage monkeys drinking out at house parties where one of the monkey's parents have left town, then progress to monkey frat parties bubbling over with grain alcohol punch and candy dishes full of roofies.
When the monkeys finally make it to legal monkey drinking age is when it really gets expensive. Giant halls booming with techno and cheap shots will make some of the monkeys happy, whereas others will happily pay nine bucks for a draft beer to sip on while they watch other monkeys dance naked. When the monkeys vacation, they have to sit around giant pools in lounge chairs so they don't feel guilty about slurping Monkey Tais at ten in the morning. The invention of the monkey sports bar means the invention of Monkey ESPN. Putting a whole TV network together and still coming in at under 3.2 million is quite a fiscal achievement. We should be commending the NIH, not criticizing it.
And when the monkey joint is nearing closing time, and the NIH spots that one pretty little monkey sitting in a corner by herself with a lonely tear running down her face, I bet they check their credit limit before they send her over just one more drink in the hopes of making her smile and maybe getting her number, too. Because that's the kind of tender-hearted, budget conscious guys they are.
I think we all ought to buy them a drink.