There is much of the bonobo in me. Like any self-respecting, socialized primate, I cannot scratch a back without throwing in an unsolicited grooming session. Techniques have evolved to accommodate the pitiful absence of fleas and parasites: any change in surface texture results in a focused, nails in exfoliation or extraction. Recipient responses vary, from appreciative, encouraging grunts to ‘I think I need painkillers.’
Of late, I’ve been told I’m badly behaved when overtired, finding everything funny, including my bad behavior. As I get older, I tire more frequently. When I’m close to being The Walking Dead I’m delirious and therefore hilarious, if only to myself. Combine this with a back scratch slash grooming, and it’s not funny.
Last night my soon-to-be-sixteen son turned to me mid intensive, single-spot ‘nailing’ and said, with little hope, ‘Can I not just get a normal, straightforward back scratch please?’ Absurdly, my mind went to the alphabet and I replied ‘Is this a cack scratch then?’ I went from C – S in a giddy, singsong heartbeat, substituting the B in back with a new letter each time e.g. fack scratch…hack scratch…jack scratch…lack scratch…pack scratch…rack scratch etc. The pièce de résistence was getting to sack scratch. I was a mess of mirth on the floor. When I laugh like that I laugh alooooooone.
Of course, I was told ‘Go to bed, Ma.’
I did, laughing myself limp all the way.
I know where the bonobo reference has taken your intelligent, inquisitive mind. You’re wondering, if you know anything about these apes, whether I also retain their passionate inclination to maintain harmony within the troop. Answer: I admire and strive to emulate the bonobos’ uninhibited, profoundly successful (no war, little violence, females call the shots, sharing is caring) peacemaking strategies, but I have to draw a line somewhere in this concrete jungle. I hesitate to indulge in random acts of conciliatory copulation, or diffuse tensions by offering sex willy-nilly within the community. I’d have no time for my hobbies.
No, I’m content on my squeaking lower limbs, smoothing my graying hair, yawning, admiring other’s tool-making skills. I scratch like a cat and laugh like a hyena. I’m a bona fide matriarch in the making, which means I don’t have to have sex with blokes to get my hands on half the bananas.
I think it’s nap time…