San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Love makes the world go ‘round

Love makes the world go ‘round, if not literally then at least figuratively. In every species, even among the female spiders who consume their recent mates, the male may be observed chasing the female, and not the reverse, because survival of the species requires that he demonstrate at least the ability to run. Also, the male must be ready for love at any moment. That’s because the female is not – for perfectly justifiable reason – and someone has to take the first step to initiate replication.

Jack O’Brien

Jack O’Brien

The preliminary negotiations are generally well understood, and leaving an intimate hair in a coffee cup is not only indelicate, but unnecessary, since most females are well aware of the rules and prepared to engage in a relevant discussion in which they can express their views for or against, without compromise.

In fact, the rules for appropriate conduct were laid down long ago by the French, when successive crusades had robbed their country of certified husbands, requiring alternative means of conserving the family. There was once a priceless New Yorker cartoon showing the weary crusader, just returned after seven years in the Holy Land, being greeted by his doting wife accompanied by half a dozen of her children aged one to six. She confides, “And I too, my lord, have not been idle.”

Perhaps that was overdoing the idea, but to meet the requirements of the situation, the French invented the Romantic Movement, whereby crusaders could depart for the Holy Land with an unburdened mind, confident that the emotional needs of their mates would be taken care of by a class of surrogate husbands known as Troubadors, who would relinquish their duties immediately on the return of the breadwinner.

This idealistic arrangement institutionalized the idea of Romantic Love, which proved highly acceptable not only to temporarily deserted wives but also to fully attached wives, mated to husbands who had little time for, or interest in, amorous dalliance.

The idea spread like wildfire, and because aforesaid males must be ready for love at any moment, they can hardly be expected to keep this up for a lifetime. Someone has to fill the gap. Of course, to every brilliant idea there is always a downside, and the advent of inexpensive DNA tests to establish parenthood may prove the downfall of Romantic Love.

The situation has already been checked out in Bonobo monkey tribes, where the genes of neighboring deadly enemies have been found to constitute a significant proportion of the home tribe’s genome. Of course, we geneticists view this outcome with enormous satisfaction, since enlargement of the gene pool is the first duty of every tribal leader and is frustrated only by the absurd male belief that his and only his genes should be perpetuated.

In summary, then, we must for the good of the species divest ourselves of the absurd notion that Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion, since that is contrary to established fact, though without reverting to the bad old days when a woman was only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.

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