Friday, November 04, 2005

Bush Babies and Me

Ok, guys, time for a new post. Recently a friend compared me to a bush baby. I didn't have any clue what that was, for starters, and what he meant by calling me one. I was tempted to just tell him to take a flying leap, but I decided instead to find out what one was, and come up with the ways I was like one. Then I typed a paper. The resulting paper amused me so much that I decided to let everyone else enjoy it too. Enjoy!

Bush babies are nocturnal animals native to the African bush. They are small nocturnal creatures which live in small to large groups- smaller when feeding, and larger when sleeping. When they are sleeping they often stay in groups as large as 20. They sleep in small, enclosed spaces like tree trunks, all cuddled together. For such a small animal, weighing no more than ten ounces as an adult, they have a very large territory- up to 20 acres per group that sleeps together…. Amazing how only twenty little ten-ounce animals think they need 20 acres! That's an acre for each little nocturnal, fuzzy body. What cheek! Bush babies not only need an oddly large amount of space, but they are also one of the most peculiar looking animals in the African terrain. They have large, round, glassy-looking eyes, and enormous ears. They have the unique ability to leap great distances along the treetops, giving them the illusion of flying. Sort of like a flying squirrel with bigger vocal cords. Speaking of vocal cords, it's this particular body part the gave the little tyke its name. When a bush baby thinks that something is invading its territory, it gives a yell that sounds similar to the yell of a small, excited child. Want to catch one? It's not hard; just buy yourself some liquor (palm wine specifically) and you're good to go! You don't have to buy much- the little sots are cheap drunks. At least that's how the African bushmen catch them when they are in need of a funny-looking little pet. Bush babies survive on an omnivorous diet of bugs, caterpillars, lizards, dung beetles, flowers, pollen, honey, seeds, fruit, and the sap from acacia and albizzia trees. Because they are nocturnal animals, they sleep all day, and then awake for their nightly gorging sessions at dusk. Whenever they are foraging for food, they go in groups that consist of a male, a pregnant female, and the female's offspring from a previous litter. They have very fast reflexes (at least when they aren't doped up from a bushman with a keg), and catch their prey by pouncing on them. Their use as pets used to be much more widespread until 1940, when there was a particular heinous outbreak of yellow fever. At that point, bush babies were mercilessly hunted, due to their participation in the plague of sickness. You see, bush babies are somewhat like the idea of an alien life-form which peacefully cohabits with deadly gas; they carry the virus for yellow fever in their cute little bodies with no risk to their personal health. Problems ensue when mosquitoes bite them and pass on the virus to the next thing they bite, which in many cases are humans. Once they invented a vaccine for the virus, though, bush babies were once again flung into the process of alcohol abuse and captivity. Bush babies are amazing animals, and have incredible senses of hearing and night vision. A bush baby can hear a cricket’s legs walking on dead leaves from over 15 feet above in a tree. Obviously, these little guys don't miss a thing. Still needing more of a mental image of one of these little guys? Please refer to the recent animated film "Madagascar"- the little guys singing the "Move It" song with gusto are lemurs, which are very similar to bush babies. They are from the same group of primates, the main differences being that bush babies are smaller, nocturnal, and have a slightly different diet. Bush babies are nocturnal due to competition with larger primates who delight in daytime activity. Evidently, in a poo-flinging contest, the guys with the most crap win.

Ok, so now the question arises: In what ways do I resemble a bush baby? Well, first of all, the obvious- I'm a cheap drunk, I love leaping through the air with catlike agility at high altitudes, and foraging with my mate and children for food in the undergrowth of the African jungle while pregnant. The more subtle comparisons, however are a little harder to nail. The more overt ways I resemble a bush baby is that in my family of origin, I was more of a watcher than a fighter. If the big monkeys were out throwin' poop clods twice my size, I would be on the side lines hiding, sleeping, or shrieking like an excited child. In my environment I was more an observer than anything else. The only time I came out of my shell was after the other primates went to sleep for the night (or left, or went away, or after I moved out of the environment). My orb-like eyes and oversized ears picked up everything; nothing escaped my notice. The fight in me only came out when there was an unsuspecting victim- like a smaller monkey or a big monkey feeling emotionally strung out and defenseless. Once I had spotted my victim from twenty feet away, I would stalk and pounce with lightning speed and deftly deliver my small, sharp death bites of criticism to the neck before they knew what was happening. My quarry was completely caught off balance due to my overly apt observations and skill at flinging the glaring truth about themselves into their faces with stunning accuracy at times when I didn't think they would swipe back. Sometimes I was wrong, and they would fight back, but soon they would grow bored with their warfare against a pipsqueak and I would live to fight smarter another day; there was never surrender under any circumstances.

So, there you go. Me and the bush baby. Twins I tell you, separated at birth.

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