Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mating Call

I love documentaries. As you know from my writing, the real world is entertaining enough for me. Planet Earth is a nature series that I don't get to see because I cancelled my cable channels in a ferocious fit of commercial rebellion. That'll teach 'em. I'm sure the cable company right now is sighing, "We sure miss that Michael—he's one in a million."

Well, I was one in a million, anyway.

One of my cubs gave me the complete PE series in a box set of DVDs as a Christmas gift. I won't gush on about the series—this is about me, not them. But now I can curl up on my warm couch with my popcorn and wine in front of the fire and watch animals do, um, animal things.

Mating rituals are as varied as animals themselves. But they almost all involve dancing, dressing up, getting in fights, and some kind of mating call. The general idea seems to be to choose the strongest, most dominant mate possible, who will provide food and protection and rain revenge upon your enemies, all in return for a little roll in the hay. It's a pretty good system.

So naturally I'm intrigued by the species known as singer/songwriter. The male's plumage consists of his best thrift store shirt, rumpled just enough to say "I really don't like work," and is a size too small, to accentuate his frailty. He isn't groomed, because he went straight from bed to stage and still got there fifteen minutes late. His mating song is about how every woman but you left him because of his lyin' and cheatin', and his voice cracks with emo as this lifestyle is just to much for him to bear. And after every show he walks out with a pocketful of women's phone numbers. It is this natural phenomenon that keeps guitar stores in business.

"How about rock stars?" I asked a friend. "Are they manlier?"

"Harmonies are kind of girly," she said. "So are all the costume changes."

So the running theme of the musician mating dance seems to be, "Manly, schmanly."

The nice thing about the singer/songwriter mating ritual is that you don't have to worry about commitment: songwriters are always ramblin', ramblin', and when you wake up in the mornin' they'll be gone.

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