Conversational Animals

“Nature abounds in absurdities,” a great ape with opposable thumbs and a sense of superiority in his evolutionary state said.

“How so,” barked another great ape, laryngeal grunts and woofs forming a rudimentary communication with fits and snips. She fought the urge to scratch her scalp.

“Well, take the platypus,” the first ape said, adjusting the manufactured wrappings that covered his selectively bald body. He artfully hid his genitalia under plant fibers lest he be grabbed and dragged away to a compartment with a tiny window.

“Where should I take this platypus,” the second ape asked, taking advantage of a double-meaning and ambiguous turn of phrase. This was done to elicit a complex series of reactions in the first ape, all of which have their root in surprise.

“Very funny,” the first ape said, which meant the exact opposite of what the words would usually communicate. Under the complicated self-imposed rules of barking that formed their information exchange system, the concealment of purpose and the stating of opposites were apparently very important ways of getting one’s point across.

“The platypus is not that odd,” the second ape said. She fought the urge to scratch her inner thighs even though they were itchy. She was afraid that this might signal an intent to mate with the first ape. Since the sex of the first ape was notoriously aggressive, it was best not to provoke those thoughts. Also, for some reason, displays of biological discomfort around the sexual organs was considered threatening to the peace of her fellow apes. “Not when you consider that it evolved in a closed system.”

The first ape briefly imagined the second ape naked for a moment, then pushed the thought out of his mind in favor of a more rigid, self-controlled neutral thought system that was erected by ancestors over thousands of years to prevent a disruption of social norms. “True,” he gibbered, “I mean, everything makes sense in its environment. Australia is indeed a closed system, like you said.”

The second ape felt a tinge of discomfort, having sensed his micro-arousal. Since this was something that her sex had to deal with a lot, she pushed it out of her mind before she could register what it was, but the discomfort lingered like radiative heat from an unknown source. She bared her teeth and pulled the corners of her mouth upwards: a symbol of pleasure or happiness among her kind and not of aggression. “Indeed,” she spat. “It is well suited for its environment, otherwise it would just be another fossil.”

The first ape sighed. His scalp itched and he had to relieve himself. However, long custom and programming prevented him from relieving himself on the chair. He concentrated on barking rather than biological release. He considered trying to sneak out a fart, but was uncertain that he could do this in front of the female he wished to pair bond with someday without her noticing. The pressure in his bowels was insistent, so he took a chance. It came out silently. He smiled slightly at his success. “I just love reading about weird animals.”

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