BY LIBIN ZHANG
Your correspondent was hard-pressed to come up with a topic for this final issue. The trip to the Lesley University lunch buffet was filling, but it is rather hard to write 800 words on that cafeteria changing its prices back to $5.25 for lunch for Harvard students. Reflections on Ames Moot Court or the end of 1L year? Not very inspiring. Your correspondent finally decided to educate faithful readers on an important but oft-overlooked canon of Western thought: the act of describing one’s sex life through animal metaphors.
The thought experiment, or game, was first devised by St. Augustine of Hippo in his autobiographical Confessions, written around 398 A.D., inter alia when he discussed his indulgence in lust between the ages of 15 and 30. The point of the game is to come up with an animal whose eating behavior is analogous to one’s sex life. For example, someone who is “a lion” would have a sex life that is similar to the lion’s eating habits, which consists of the male lion idling around while the female lions do all the hunting work for him. St. Augustine described himself as a hippopotamus, fittingly immortalized in his name, for he is similar to an animal that likes to float around and eat the easily acquired food, but is also adept at using its tusk as a battering ram if necessary.
Choosing a representative animal is, like choosing to believe in God, an extremely personal decision that requires much self-reflection about one’s true nature. In a rare digression from your correspondent’s usual female-sensitive nature, the list below of some sample animals is somewhat male-focused, because it was created with the assistance of several women who shall remain anonymous for obvious reasons.
The whale goes through life by floating around in a relatively aimless fashion. It feeds on extremely small pieces of food in large volumes. A person who is a whale would have sexual partners come to him or her frequently, but each episode is extremely short and trivial.
The clam, a sessile bottom dweller, is even more passive than the whale.
The hyena exerts an extraordinary amount of effort trying to find prey, but only actually eats in extremely rare circumstances, and usually on the slim pickings others have finished and left behind.
The caterpillar / butterfly eats and eats indiscriminately during the caterpillar phase, but moves onto more select fare after metamorphosis.
Pandas are highly selective in their tastes, and thus are highly endangered.
The giraffe has to eat constantly, and only does so in hard to reach positions.
The owl focuses on prey hidden in the fields and ignored by all others, and it swoops down after spotting a kill.
Minks eat their young when there is too much noise. See Lahar v. Barnes, 353 Mich. 408 (1958); Kellogg v. Village of Viola, 67 Wis.2d 345 (1975). Your correspondent is not sure exactly what this means.
The analogy can also be made to the sexual behavior of animals, but the facts tend to be less well known. For example, it is a little known fact that male pigs have a corkscrew-shaped penis, and female pigs have a corkscrew-shaped receptacle, which works well to prevent premature withdrawal. It is unclear whether the male pig employs a clockwise or counterclockwise rotation, or if pigs come in both versions, as with right- and left-handed humans. If the latter is true, then sadness must befall poor left-turning Piglet in a world of right-turning Petunias.
Sex animal metaphors solve the difficult problem of communicating relationship issues to males. For example, a demure and socially conservative person who wishes to bring up the subject discreetly can initiate a conversation by declaring, “So last night I was feeling like a giraffe, but then I met two swordfish and I learned to be a little porcine,” to which others would respond knowingly.
Sex animal metaphors are much easier to decipher than metaphors using baseball,* such as the following truly incomprehensible example, “So there I was about to bunt with the bases loaded and nobody out, when I balked during the seventh inning stretch and had to call in a relief pitcher,” or metaphors using cricket: “So we were on the third day of the Test Match, when I, the bowler, dismissed the batsman for a leg before wicket, while the latter was about to be retired ill after always hitting cover drives.”
Having the sex animal thought experiment as common knowledge would greatly benefit the level of intellectual discussion in American society. Like horoscopes, specific animals can be used as signaling mechanisms to facilitate matching of personal preferences. St. Augustine of Hippo would be proud.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for next year’s discussion of some leading signs of male homosexual tendencies: collared shirts, shell necklaces, and having sex with men.
* A game similar to the children’s sport of rounders.
Libin Zhang is a kangaroo.