I agree to tend bar at the safari guesthouse on New Year’s Eve, on condition that I leave before all the singing, smooching and tooting begins. In spite of this sensible precaution, the evening does not pass without incident. Towards the end of my shift, a big fat man with blond hair and a blond moustache staggers toward me while rolling up the sleeve of his right arm.
“Lez arm wrezzle!” he burps.
“Sir, you are drunk!” I exclaim. “Your barbarian ancestors were no doubt in a similar condition as they charged the Roman legions which were shortly to make mincemeat of them! Withdraw to a nearby table and sit down while I make you a cup of coffee!”
Rather than mollifying, my words seem to enrage him.
“You big hairy fugger!” he snarls, lunging at me with his fists.
I stick out a paw to prevent him getting within spitting range (gorillas have long arms, as you know) and wait for help to arrive while he flounders and flaps like a giant penguin. Presently, a posse of catering staff drag him off for a sedative and an early night. The other guests seem supportive of my stand, although some suggest I was too lenient.
“You should have taken him on and smashed his knuckles on the bar!” says one man.
“Had I been a chimpanzee, Sir, I surely would have done so,” I reply. “However we gorillas are pacifists. Furthermore, there are many women at this function who would have witnessed the spectacle, which might have led to unnatural emotions. The male gorilla who shows off in front of human females is like a rooster that lays eggs.”
I should mention here that we gorillas never drink alcohol to excess. The close proximity of hard liquor at the bar does not tempt me. In my circus days, I once met a Native American gentleman after a show we gave in New Mexico. His name was Chief Jimmy Big-Nose of the Navaho.
“Are you planning to be a circus ape all your life?” he asked.
“No, Chief, I shall one day return to the Congo and go back to jungle living.”
“That is good,” he said. “We Navaho used to be hunter gatherers until the white man came and made us foolish with his whisky. I hope you gorillas know better.”
“We shall surely learn from your example, Chief,” I replied. “Although in my experience humans of all colour are white men.”
“Yes,” agreed the chief pensively. “They are now.”
It is a great tragedy that Dr Timothy Leary failed in his quest to persuade people to renounce all narcotic substances other than LSD. In my experience, humans who take hallucinogenic drugs are generally well behaved. They will happily sit in a corner and babble away quietly with stupefied expressions on their faces. If they take it in groups they might be more noisy, laughing hysterically for no apparent reason. But such behaviour is of no concern in Africa, we’re used to it from the hyenas. If you’re going to get stoned, do it in a way that doesn’t involve accosting strangers or making offensive noises.
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