A Canadian professor has written a paper about what women look for in a husband. He was good enough to send me a copy in the hope that I’d confirm that female gorillas have similar preferences. For some reason, humans love it when they share behavioural traits with their primate cousins. It seems they don’t quite believe something is truly “human nature” unless we apes are doing it as well.
Now the professor’s theory is very simple. Women, he claims, want a husband who is nice. Their instincts tell them that a man who is kind to animals, and possibly his mother, is likely to be a good father. And since breeding is the ultimate aim of the game, the woman who marries a decent cove will find it easier to raise more children. Not all women find a nice guy, of course: there simply aren’t enough of them to go round. So the unlucky damsels have to let some bastard impregnate them if they want to breed. Not the optimal solution for parenting, but better than a poke in the nostril.
So how do female gorillas compare? They are virtually the same with one subtle difference. Niceness is a virtue they adore, but only when it is directed towards them. Altruism in the general sense of loving God’s creatures does not rank highly in their list of priorities. If I were to make a habit of being kind to baboons, my females would certainly mock me for being a sentimental dupe. And if I tried to befriend a crocodile, they would assume I’d gone bonkers and report me to nearest hairy nutball sanctuary. In their eyes, niceness is a precious commodity not to be wasted on the flotsam and jetsam of the animal kingdom.
But let’s get back to women. Is the professor’s hypothesis entirely valid? My main source of data is the female acrobats I knew in my circus days. I can say, without exaggeration, that I became their hairy confessor. Believe me, dear readers, they told me stuff, some of which I will never reveal. All of them intended, at some stage in their young lives, to marry a fellow richly endowed with niceness. One of them actually did so when I was there and left the circus. After a year of married life, she returned for a visit to catch up on old times. Betwixt the merrymaking and fraternising, she came to see me for a quiet chat.
I asked her how she liked being a wife and she said it was great, but I could see something was bothering her. After some gentle probing, she told me that her husband was a sweet, gentle honeybun who no longer excited her sexually. The only way she could get off in bed was to close her eyes and fantasize about Lieutenant Worf. I told her not to worry about it. Lieutenant Worf was the kind of Klingon who inspired strange yearnings in females of all species. I wouldn’t be surprised if Counsellor Troi was thinking of him when that schmuck Riker was nibbling her earlobes.
So in conclusion, I would attach a qualification to the professor’s learned thesis. Women do indeed want an affable husband – during mealtimes, household chores, outdoor recreation, visits to the in-laws and, most importantly, shopping trips. At bedtime, however, they may harbour a secret desire to be ravished by the Big Bad Beast. I wish I could help them to square that particular circle, but sadly I have no recipe for Dr Jeckyll’s potion. And I’m certainly not a Big Bad Beast, so you can put that thought out of your head.
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