A Dutch professor has persuaded young women to take testosterone tablets in the cause of scientific inquiry. Apparently it made them less trusting of men’s faces, which he argued was a beneficial effect. I suppose it might compensate them for growing hair on their bosoms, which is a small price to pay to avoid being deceived by a wily rogue.
Is it possible for a man to have a trustworthy face? Two often cited examples are Henry Fonda in Twelve Angry Men and Sidney Poitier in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Men like that wouldn’t peek in the bedroom mirror if Catherine Deneuve were in the bathroom with the door wide open, soaping her glistening thighs with a fragrant shower gel. Yet were their faces inherently reliable or did it just seem that way because of their righteous behaviour? What if Henry Fonda had voted to hang the kid (who was probably a repugnant oik in spite of his innocence)? Those baby blue eyes of his might have seemed a lot more icy.
When I was in the circus, there was a snaggletoothed handyman with bushy eyebrows that met in the middle of his forehead. Nobody trusted him and he was shunned by women. I decided to make him my henchman.
“Ethelred,” I said (for that was his name). “I am giving you the spare key to the trunk in my trailer, which contains valuables such as gold coins, precious jewels, silk pantaloons and nose-hair clippers. Should I misplace my key, I will ask you for the duplicate.”
Ethelred tugged his forelock and bowed. When people expressed surprised at my patronage of him, I gave them the following explanation:
“Like Jesus, we gorillas are magnanimous to misfits and pariahs. I am confident that Ethelred will be as loyal as a hound dog. And besides, he reminds me of an uncle of mine.”
My trust in Ethelred was not misplaced and helped to ease his exclusion from the society of his fellow humans. He ended up marrying a pretty girl who worked in the meat-processing industry. Some people claimed she had a Bride-of-Frankenstein complex, but that was probably sour grapes.
Different rules apply to women and gorillas, of course. Human females have good reason to be wary of strange men, whatever their appearance. I was disturbed of hear of a conman in Cornwall who swindled large sums of money from women he met on a dating site. His resemblance to Buster Bloodvessel did not impair his powers of persuasion.
“When I met him I thought he looked like Shrek,” said Sarah Terry, a 42-year-old divorcee. “But we had so much to talk about, and he was so interested in me that, to my surprise, I found him very attractive.”
One has to pity Ms Terry, although she is partly to blame for not getting a chaperone to screen her suitors. It is a task I have performed for several women in whom I have an avuncular concern. Asking for bank statements and DNA samples usually scares off the scoundrels immediately. As for the honest men, promising them a sound thrashing if they misbehave is good for their souls. The innocent have nothing to fear, as we say in the jungle.
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