The Halloween experience

We don’t do anything special for Halloween at the safari camp – the African night is spooky enough without people impersonating witches and hobgoblins. Not that ladies of the broom-straddling persuasion are necessarily a bad thing in this day and age. When I was in the circus, quite a few women who imagined they were witches sought to involve me in their schemes. Believing that a talking gorilla must be some kind of wizard, they befuddled me with talk of hexes, spells, potions and salubrious tonics. I remember being accosted by a striking young minx who was interested in recipes for male aphrodisiacs in the pre-Viagra era.

“I am surprised your gentlemen friends have need of such stimulants,” I remarked.

“It keeps them going when I’m digging my nails into their back,” she explained helpfully.

I nodded thoughtfully. I should imagine that wildcat sex is something that men fantasize about a great deal without realising what a shock to the system it is to have your flesh clawed. Many a young male lion would doubtless concur. We gorillas have little experience of such matters, of course. Those who require further enlightenment should contact
Ms Belinda Swallows, the latest sex-blogging sensation.

Halloween is an occasion I enjoy when staying at Dr Whipsnade’s London residence. What fun it is to answer the doorbell and yell “treat or treat!” at the costumed kiddies before they can utter a word! Many of them drop their bucket of goodies and run off in terror, but I always chase after them and carry them back home for a dessert of fresh mangoes. They usually stop screaming when I reassure them as follows:

“Calm down, by God, we gorillas are vegetarian! You have far more to fear from your own kind! You will be free to leave once you have collected your booty!”

I can say, in all modesty, that I get along with human infants like a house on fire. Bewildered parents often ask me why I have a much better rapport with their offspring than they do. The answer is quite simple: I speak to them as I would speak to an adult; I confide in them on matters of substance; and I take a genuine interest in their social lives. The last item is a particular fascination. I confess to having a weakness for vulgar rhymes and can never resist asking children about the latest playground ditties. The following verse was once recited for my pleasure by nine-year-old twin sisters:

When Suzie was a teenager, a teenager Suzie was,

And she went: "Ooh, ah, I lost my bra, I left it in my boyfriend's car!

Apparently this is quite well-known, but I had never heard it before and hooted with mirth, much to their delight. Feeling a little abashed, I decided to add a few cautionary words:

“Suzie was indeed a feckless and foolish young woman,” I declared. “When you acquire brassieres of your own, I am sure you that will remove them only in the presence of a doctor, or perhaps a gentleman who has professed his love for you after months of assiduous wooing!”

“Euurrgh!” piped one of the little ladies. “I’m never taking my bra off for a gentleman!”

I rubbed my chin as I reflected on her words. “
Jenny McCarthy does favour that approach,” I conceded, “but I would advise you to postpone fixing your sartorial habits until the moment of reckoning arrives.”

Chatting to human infants of a certain age is a most refreshing experience. They speak their minds frankly and never fail to draw one’s attention to interesting possibilities.

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