Scientists have come up with a far-fetched theory to explain why bonobos (our mutual primate cousins) make a hullabaloo while having sex. Observing that it is always the lower-ranking ape who screeches excitedly, they believe it does so to inform the rest of the troupe of the coupling. They theorise that being casually bonked by a higher-ranking bonobo actually elevates its status, rather than giving it a reputation as a social-climbing hoochie. As bonobos are promiscuous and bisexual, the ape that makes a racket could be of either gender or sexual orientation.
Do lower-ranking bonobos really have the same mentality as groupies, who acquire kudos within their peer group when a pop star gets in their pants? I suspect there are other, more obvious explanations. Perhaps they are simply unable to contain their pleasure at being ravished by a social superior. Or being keen to please, they might make a lot of noise because the dominant bonobo likes it.
I was occasionally disturbed by the cries of fornicating humans in my circus days. In one particularly aggravating incident, I heard a woman scream in a nearby trailer as if she were being murdered or molested. What does one do in such a situation? I took the view that it was better to be safe than sorry, and banged on the door like a policeman.
“Open up in the name of the law!” I bellowed. “Stop what you are doing and surrender!”
After a few seconds of silence, I heard a female voice giggling hysterically. This goaded me into making another emphatic statement.
“I don’t know who you are, Miss, but the noises you were making were indistinguishable from those of the victim of a monstrous violation!”
“I know,” she replied tartly. “He’s quite a monster and I’m feeling very violated!”
Her saucy banter deserved a brusque response.
“Is he indeed? Obviously, a rather tongue-tied monster to let a woman speak for him.”
“Oh no, his tongue is very untied!” quipped the floozy, quite unabashed at having been caught in the act.
I decided to direct my next statement at the monster himself.
“Be that as it may, I would ask him to show more consideration for those who must endure the bedlam created by his actions. Perhaps he might consider the use of a gag in future escapades of this kind.”
I marched off briskly before she could provoke me with another cheeky retort.
Now, the big difference between humans and bonobos is that the apes use sex as a friendly greeting, like a handshake. If two hostile bonobo tribes agreed to make peace, their leaders would seal the deal by having a quick shag on the conference table. For humans, there is absolutely no reason for a couple having sex to advertise the fact to anyone. Humans who insist on making a din must be playing a deep psychological game involving boasting, exhibitionism and the marking of territory. The next time it happens, I’ll retaliate with some loud noises of my own.
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