The circus I used to work for employed a sensitive young man called Derek as an artwork designer. He was very popular with the female staff, accompanying them on shopping trips when we were touring and helping them pick out stylish clothes and perfumes. Many of the girls found him sexually attractive, but they soon gave up trying to seduce him when they realised he had no interest in coupling with women.
During one Christmas tour, Derek became very friendly with an acrobat called Sally, who had recently joined us. Sally knew he didn’t mate with females, but still used to hug and kiss him in a friendly sort of way, which didn’t seem to bother Derek. So no one took much notice when the two spent many hours chatting and dancing together at the New Year’s Eve party. And when Sally followed Derek back to his trailer that night, it was surely just for a friendly cup of coffee to see in the New Year.
On New Year’s Day, my afternoon nap was interrupted by a knock on the door of my trailer. I was astonished to see that it was Derek, looking rather distraught and begging for a minute of my time. I invited him in and asked him what I could do for him.
“Oh GB!” wailed Derek. “Something quite horrible happened last night and I feel so ashamed to talk about it.”
“I won’t be able to help you if you don’t tell me,” I replied, suppressing a yawn.
Convinced by my logic, Derek proceeded tentatively to the facts: “Someone very close to me took advantage of my friendship. I was feeling a little emotional on New Year’s Eve, as many of us do, and needed someone to hug. But this friend of mine…..she betrayed my trust by despoiling me.”
I suppose I knew what he meant by this, but it’s always best to have things spelled out clearly. “Are you saying that you mounted Sally last night?” I asked.
“Certainly not!” replied Derek in a shocked voice. “She mounted me! I was the passive one and she took advantage!”
“You don’t say, Derek.” I replied. “Nevertheless, the facts are that you had sex with her and she had sex with you. Is this a bad thing?”
“It’s a terrible thing, GB!” wailed Derek. “I’ve been tricked into doing something I didn’t want to…….something against my nature,” he added blushing. “And it’s completely ruined my friendship with Sally. How will I ever be able to face her again? The thought of her gossiping about this with the other girls is simply unbearable.”
I have to admit I was fairly stumped for a reply to this lament. I gave my head a good scratch in the hope of stimulating a few brain cells and then tried to extract myself from the role of counsellor. “I can see you’re very upset about this,” I conceded, “but why in the world would you come to me for advice? How could a gorilla possibly know what a human should do in such a situation?”
“Don’t you see, GB, it’s because you’re not human that I can bear to talk to you about it,” pleaded Derek. “And everyone says you’re such a clever ape who’s always studying human culture. You’re my only hope.”
I suppose I could have told him to write a letter to an Agony Aunt, but I decided to give his problem some further thought, if indeed it could be called a “problem”. I sensed that the significance of the incident that had occurred was all a matter of perspective, which for a twit like Derek might be changed by pouring a pitcher of ice-cold water over his head. So I told him to return at the same time tomorrow.
After Derek had left, the first priority was to finish my nap, so I had a good snooze and woke up feeling refreshed. I was just about to fix myself a snack when another knock came on the door. This time it was Sally, who invited herself in for a chat.
“I think I’ve ruined my friendship with Derek,” she moaned. “I didn’t expect anything to happen when I went to his trailer, but it was New Year’s Eve and we’d had too much to drink. One thing led to another and we ended up in bed – you know how it is GB.”
“I’m beginning to understand,” I sighed. “Give me some time to think about it. Come back and see me tomorrow afternoon.”
By cunning intent, the time I set for this meeting coincided with Derek’s appointment. Next day, I stood outside my trailer door to welcome the guests as they arrived. Derek came first, so I told him to go inside and wait for me. Sally arrived a few minutes later and I went inside with her to join Derek. An extraordinarily awkward silence followed, as the two humans blushed and then avoided eye contact. Derek tried to get up and leave, but I blocked his exit.
“Sit down, Derek!” I ordered. “There is no need for either of you to say anything until I ask you. I have prepared a scientific experiment for you to witness.”
After Derek had returned to his seat, I placed a tall glass on a nearby coffee table, which I had previously filled with pink jelly. Also on the table was a big carrot, which I thrust vigorously inside the glass so that it made a squelching noise. I looked at both my guests, who were wide-eyed with astonishment.
“Would you say that the carrot has just had sex with the glass?” I asked them.
Sally tittered, while Derek pursed his lips and frowned like a fishwife.
“Really GB!” he exclaimed. “I don’t see the point of this vulgar exhibition!”
“That doesn’t surprise me,” I retorted, “but you still haven’t answered my question. Has the carrot just had sex with the glass?”
“Of course not, GB!” said Sally giggling. “A carrot can’t have sex with a glass!”
“Quite so!” I exclaimed. “Carrots and glasses do not have sex because they are mere objects. They are without spirit. What my experiment has proved is that sex is not a physical act. It is something which exists in our minds; it is the significance we choose to attach to certain physical events.”
“I see what you’re getting at, GB,” said Derek. “But I’m not a carrot…. and Sally isn’t a glass,” he added, looking shyly at his female companion.
“True,” I replied. “But does that mean you had sex? I heard a rumour that you did, but I don’t believe it. Everyone knows that you are friends. What happened in the early hours of New Year’s Day, I suggest, was that you embraced and comforted each other as friends.”
“We did go all the way, though,” said Sally softly with her eyes lowered.
“A mere physical detail,” I countered. “It doesn’t mean that you had sex. All that happened was that Sally’s cha-cha cuddled Derek’s dick as an act of friendship.”
They chuckled sheepishly at my interpretation of events.
“The point is that you are free to interpret these events in your own way,” I continued. “If you believe you were behaving as friends, then that is what you were doing. And if you believe you are friends now, then that is what you are.”
My companions looked at each other without discomfort for the first time that afternoon. Sally apologised to Derek and words of reconciliation quickly followed from Derek. The two embraced gently and they thanked me for my efforts on their behalf. I acknowledged their gratitude with a silent bow and ordered them out of my trailer to avoid witnessing any more of the corny scene developing between them.
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