We’re All Just Pimps, Chimps, and Hos
By Natalia Reagan
What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Buying a bouquet of red roses? Dinner reservations at that new, hip Polynesian-Hungarian fusion joint where the waiters sing gypsy folk songs in grass skirts? Purchasing a certain someone something sparkly that cost you at least 2 paychecks (and a kidney- but who’s counting)?
If you haven’t picked up what I’m laying down, I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. Nope. I have not one iota of love for the overly commercialized, consumer-happy, greeting card created holiday that forces the giving of gifts, feelings, and sentiments that, frankly, should just come naturally. I can see through its sticky sweet contrived muck and realize it’s just an opportunity to get diamond sales up and prey on our human neediness to feel loved (Sadly, I know too much about the horrors of mining in Africa to ever want a diamond ring). Yes, I believe this “holiday” is more about the exchange of goods and services (wink, wink nudge, nudge) then the actual exchange of mutual love, respect, and adoration.
As an anthropologist I understand that love, albeit, a beautiful thing, involves a lot of compromises and exchange of goods for services. A little “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. But this act of giving gifts though, is not exclusive to our species. Yep, nonhuman primates (monkeys and apes) are known to give gifts in hopes woo that certain some simian. Chimpanzees, our closest genetic relative, will give ripe pieces of fruit to females with sexual swellings (code for “I’m ready to get down, y’all”) in hopes to score a little nookie. It’s honestly no different that treating your would-be lover to a nice meal in hopes they will invite you back to their place, put on some smooth jazz, and then you’ll both make like rabbits and…um…well, you know the rest.
I’m going to sound like an unromantic cad right now, but let’s face it, giving a girl a box of chocolates, a dozen roses or that diamond tennis bracelet is a nice gesture but it is also an socially acceptable way of buying her affection (a personal check is not. A money order? I think that’s on the fence). And don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that is a bad thing. I love giving gifts or making dinner for my certain someone, I just don’t want to feel forced to do such things. So isn’t it time we admit that this is a holiday that forces such transactions rather than letting them come naturally.
So I propose making every day Valentine’s Day. Every day you can give till your heart’s content and remember it’s the little things that matter. Like a quick back rub, or letting your honey hold the remote control, or even make like a chimp and give your lover the last piece of ripe fruit…Hell, you might even get lucky.
Natalia Reagan is an anthropologist and comedienne. For her thesis fieldwork she conducted a survey of the critically endangered species, the Azuero spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyii azurensis) in rural Panama. As an actor and comedienne Natalia has appeared in “My Name is Earl”, “Better off Ted”, and “Sex Drive”. Natalia’s goal is to meld her two passions and educate people about human behavior and morphology using humor, evolutionary biology, and nonhuman primates (monkeys and apes) as models. Humans are faced with serious environmental consequences (climate change, mass extinctions, “super bugs”) due to our irresponsible behavior, and she believes knowledge about our origins will help us find a way to live in harmony with nature.