Falling Out of Trees Over Jane Goodall



Jane Goodall observed that male chimpanzees fall out of trees twice as often as female chimpanzees, and that all the falls over ten meters involved males.

                    Sex and War, Malcolm Potts and Thomas Hayden

Be still, my beating heart.


We wuz hanging from lower limbs, me and Frodo, when a couple of comely she-chimps came strolling by underneath us.

“Get a load of those two,” Frodo said.  He had, by some means, adopted the patois of a New Jersey teenage male, circa 1959.

“Males–who needs ’em?”

“Not bad, not bad at all,” Frodo said with a leer.  “You want to give ’em a go?”

“Sure, why not?” I said.  “Maybe you’ll get lucky.”

I’m not the one who needs luck,” he said.  The guy’s an alpha-male wannabe.

Logo somebody made for me–I’m not to blame.

The game was afoot.  How, you may ask, do I know the works of William Shakespeare?  You have heard the story about the infinite number of monkeys with the infinite number of typewriters, eventually banging out the complete works of the Bard of Avon–haven’t you?  Well, that just happens to be my line.

“Okay,” Frodo said, “you’re on,” and we started to impress the females the only way we knew how: by climbing up to higher limbs on the tree.

“Hey–lookit me!  I climbed all the way up here for you!”

We ascended, using the prehensile ability that separated us from dopey species like dogs, hand-over-hand until we were high up in the verdant forest, if I may be allowed to wax poetic for a moment.  When we were far above the bodacious babes who had inspired our feats, we called out to them down below.

“Yoo-hoo!” I said to Melissa and Flo, two ovulating primates so hot they needed separate footnotes in grant applications.

They looked up at us with what I’d call monumental indifference, except I didn’t know of any monuments to indifference.

“Hey,” Frodo yelled.  “Aren’t you going to mate with us after we risked life and limb to climb to this precarious height, in the manner of Tom Sawyer trying to impress Becky Thatcher?”  The gals below were unimpressed by our second literary allusion in a single post.  Must have been like the librarians in Concord, Mass., who banned “Huckleberry Finn” when it first came out.

Tom Sawyer to Becky Thatcher:  “If I make a complete fool of myself, will you be my girlfriend?”

They looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and walked on.  Probably on their way to the Mall of the Gombe Stream National Park.

I looked at Frodo, and he looked back at me.  Wimmens, we communicated wordlessly, as if by telepathy.  You can’t live with ’em, and you can’t pass your genes on to future generations without ’em.

We wuz pretty dejected, having been turned down by a couple of chicks who would probably spend the afternoon picking lice out of each other’s fur, when along comes the most bodaciously bodacious primatologist-anthropologist we’d either of us ever seen.

“Oh . . . my . . . God,” I said, and I meant it.  “Isn’t she the most beautiful creature descended from a single common ancestor species of ours 6 or 7 million years ago you’ve ever seen?”

“You got that right, pal,” Frodo said.  “There’s just one problem.”

“When are you gonna dump that chimp and let somebody else have a shot at you?”

“What’s that?”

“We’re up as high as we can go.  What else can we do to impress her?”

I let a sly smile creep across my lips.  Frodo big tool-head, but if he wants to prevail in the survival-of-the-fittest battle in which we’re engaged, he’s going to have to work on his cognitive skills.

“See you later, pal,” I said, as I dropped ten meters to the forest floor.  Not as easy as it looks.

You ever tried to convert yards to meters when you’re falling out of a tree?

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Wild Animals of Nature!”

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