Fringe benefits

Back home from Scotland, a place I normally avoid for fear of being nipped by icy breezes and accosted by intoxicated natives. It was only the lure of a cultural festival featuring artists such as Miss Behave, Mrs Bang and Ms American Cougar that tempted me to venture into Haggis Territory. 

I don’t want to say too much about Behave and Bang. The former was more bossy than naughty and the latter rewarded the audience for laughing at her jokes by exposing a portion of her milky-white flesh. I would have laughed like a hyena if I hadn’t been falling asleep, her act being well past my normal bedtime. 

It was Sandra Risser, the American Cougar, whose hot flashes of brilliance illuminated the dingy tavern in which she performed, leaving me with a tingling sensation in my toes. Her act broke new ground by being mainly interactive, and as a keen interactor, I was the first to raise my hand and catch her eye. I began, as one should on such occasions, with a compliment: 

“Ms Risser, may I say how positively radiant you are this evening? Your skin glows like the waters of the River Congo at sunset.” 

“It’s the menopause!” cried a cheeky Caledonian voice from the audience. 

I silenced the guffaws with a loud grunt. A gorilla does not appreciate having his compliments mutilated by a heckler. 

“I’ll hang you upside down by your ankles so you know what the menopause feels like!” I shouted menacingly. 

It was at this point that Ms Risser intervened. 

“Jeez, Mr Gorilla, you’re so gallant on my behalf! Are you married? Don’t answer that, I’ll settle for being your mistress. Living in a tree would make my butt sore. Actually I have a recurring menopause. My first one started when I was 35 and it comes back every 5 years with a brighter glow. If I walk into my garden at night moths fly around my head. Did you have a question?” 

“Yes indeed, Ms Risser,” I replied. “My question is this: Are there rules which if broken by a cougar would result in her expulsion from the ranks of cougardom? For example, is a cougar allowed to have sex with an older man?” 

“Sure, why not?” she replied. “Doing it once doesn't count anyway. You’re still a virgin after a one night stand. I lost my virginity to 23 different men.” 

She continued in this vein, improvising effortlessly in response to the jocular (and often impertinent) questions thrown in her direction. At the end of her act, she invited me to join her for a drink. As we sat at our table, she assured me that her offer to be my mistress had been a joke. 

“Of course it was, Sandra!” I exclaimed. “Your slender haunches could never bear the pressure!” 

“You used to perform in a circus, right?” she asked. 

“Yes,” I replied. 

“How did you manage to fill the void in your life after you gave it up? I’m 69 and the thought of retiring terrifies me.” 

“Well, Sandra, living in the wild helps. Your life is never empty when spiders and snakes are crawling nearby.” 

“You could be right,” she said with a smirk. “But I may have to get a pet snake at my age.” 

I nodded silently, judging that further serpentine matters could be left safely in her hands. She obviously knew more about pet snakes than I did. 

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