Tony the ape man

Trinidad Express
April 24, 1999

THE kissing of animals, whether from affection or perversity, is an established human trait, sometimes demonstrated and even reciprocated by animals. While a concern for basic health and hygiene might preclude or prohibit this overt demonstration of affection, love or lust on the part of many people, there are still some who, for whatever their reasons, continue this osculatory overindulgence. In fact, it is now becoming increasingly socially acceptable. While many years ago the cowboy, at the end of the movie, was permitted to kiss his horse and Tarzan his chimpanzee, such displays of affection or gratitude were limited to one kiss only. Now, apart from porcupines, such lavish displays of affection towards animals have become, if not mandatory, at least expected. In the English language for instance, while the phrase "kiss my chimp" or "kiss my horse" are rare, the term as applied to the "donkey" or "ass" is not. It must be understood, however, that while all donkeys are asses and can be described as such, not all references to asses necessarily mean or imply donkeys. For the purposes of this column they are one and the same, and the word "donkey" will not be restricted to the animal in question but will be used in place of any or all of its other applications, derivations and similies. One example will suffice.

In deference to the Australians who are spending their last weekend with us at the two One Day Internationals in Barbados, there is the story of the archaeologist who, while digging in Australia, found a tablet with some symbols carved on it. Carbon dating placed it at nearly two thousand years old. At a news conference the archaeologist proudly held up the tablet and talked about the symbols in turn. "First, the cross," he said. "This is a clear indication that Christianity had reached Australia soon after it was founded. Next the presence of a shovel demonstrates that the early Australians were builders. The third symbol, which looks like a donkey, proves that they had domesticated animals while the fourth, which looks like a baby fowl, demonstrates that they were farmers." An Australian in the audience was not impressed. He was adamant that the find was merely an example of early Australian pornography. "How do you know that? Were you there?" asked the archaeologist patronisingly. "I didn't need to be," answered the Australian. "What the tablet really says is 'Christ, dig the donkey on that chick.'"

Here's another. A gay man driving with a friend in his car slightly damaged the car of another man, whereupon the other man proceeded to heap abuse on the gay man. "Why don't you kiss my donkey," he advised angrily. The gay man, turning to his companion with a smile said, "Hey, I think he wants to settle out of court!"

The kissing of animals has now gone one stage further. Human beings whose wants have almost always exceeded their needs or resources have now discovered that kissing one particular animal brings them good luck. The animal, an orangutan at a California park, is named, appropriately enough, Tony. According to Andy Sarmann who manages the park, "It all started after Tony kissed one woman and she won $4 million in a lottery just a couple days later. They interviewed the woman on television after she won and she said she got lucky because she'd been kissed by an orangutan." Other people then claimed that kissing Tony had brought them good luck. One man claimed that after the kiss from Tony he was miraculously promoted to Vice-President of his company, a job which he thought he had no chance of getting. A woman claimed that after a kiss from Tony she was cured of arthritis. She said, "I lived with that arthritis for years and then it just disappeared the day after I was kissed by that monkey." An unidentified man reportedly won $77,000 in Las Vegas the weekend after being kissed by Tony. Now crowds are standing in line for hours hoping to be kissed by Tony.

There are some skeptics who claim that there is nothing like luck and who poke fun at the gullibility of people waiting for hours to be kissed by Tony. While in the case of other Tonys it might be worth the wait, they believe that there is no basis for the belief that a kiss from Tony the orangutan would alter destiny, history or the price of cocoa. They should remember the lesson of Michael, a man never considered the brightest person in town. One day he won the lottery. "How did you guess the number?" someone asked. "Well for three consecutive nights I dreamed of the number eight. Then I realised that three times eight is thirty-two, so I picked number thirty-two. Sure enough, number thirty-two came up and now I'm a rich man." "You donkey," the person said. "Three times eight is twenty-four." "Really?" asked Michael. "Well, thirty-two won anyway."

Tony Deyal says that while he believes in kissing he does not believe in superstition. It brings bad luck.