Let’s start with a joyous tale of love conquering all:
In a world of celebrity relationships gone bad, it’s good to know that some limelight loves survive.
Take Petra, for example. Last year, the beautiful black swan from MÃ¼nster in Germany made headlines across the world after she fell head-over-heels for a gigantic, swan-shaped pedal-boat. No matter what park officials at the Aasee lake tried, Petra would not be separated from her true love.
Every year, the rental boats are brought in so they are not damaged as the lake freezes over. Last year, though, Petra was so distraught when she was separated from her boyfriend the boat that the two – the real and the fake swan – were given the use of a pond in the nearby zoo for the winter.
Now, one year later, the couple is still together, with Petra having spent her summer blissfully following the boat as it was pedalled around the lake. What’s more, Petra is getting a brand new, winterized hutch so she can spend the cold months near her oversized, plastic sweetheart as well.
Now, that is sweet – and I dearly hope that when the two lovers will leave their winter retreat, next spring, they will be followed by a brood (or fleet) of little swaots (or boans.)
It is, however, a great pity that humans were not built in the same mould. Men and women, I mean. You know, the whole falling in love and happily-ever-after spiel.
Which is kind of weird.
Here, in the left corner, we have a fairly average black swan. (Average looking, that is. I’m not going to comment on his eye-sight or mental health.) In the right corner we have a huge, somewhat shoddily painted and not very sea-worthy boat that resembles a swan like Mickey Mouse resembles your every day rodent.
Now, do these two perpetually moan about their differences, or their lack of compatibility? Do they obsessively read books titled ‘Boats are from Neptune, Swans are from Hartlepool’? No, they don’t. They just get on with things and seem perfectly happy with what the good Lord (or – same difference: their German zoo keeper) has given them.
Humans aren’t swans though – we’re more like Betamax and VHS, so we do have real compatibility issues.
I’ll give you exhibit one: the male (by way of Jeremy Clarkson):
I recently bought a magazine called Smart Life. Billed as the international lifestyle technology bible, it is full of gadgets and gizmos that honestly and truthfully make me dribble. I want to own every single thing in it.
Did you know, for instance, that you can now buy a lavatory roll dispenser into which you plug your iPod so you can enjoy some four-four time while doing your number twos.
Or that you can buy a MediaBox? According to the blurb, it is an HDD media player with a 500GB capacity that can upscale the output from your PC to a full-on 1080p HD. I have absolutely no idea what any of this means but it’s silver and black and I want one very badly.
Now, here’s exhibit two: the female (represented by Ariel Leve):
The other day I was having coffee with a friend who was telling me about a failed relationship. He was going over it, trying to figure out what went wrong, and why, even though he loved her, he couldn’t be with her. I was sympathetic. Right up until he reached a conclusion. She was, he said: “Too much like hard work.”
Then, just as I was about to mount a defence on her behalf, my friend said, “You know what I mean.”
“You think I’m hard work?” I asked. He gave me a look. The look an airline employee gives a passenger who has just learned they’re not getting an upgrade and is trying to argue there’s been a mistake.
“You know you’re difficult,” he asserted. “It took six e-mails, three phone calls and a dozen texts to make a plan for coffee.”
What’s wrong with that? I’m conscientious.
From now on, when someone asks me what I’m looking for in a man, I’m going to say: a good work ethic. That, and a high pain threshold.
One can see that trying to bring these two people together would not exactly be a case of two ships passing in the night but more like a collision course not seen since those two hapless atoms had that blind date above Hiroshima.
Luckily, the human mind can be just as inventive as that of any romantically inclined German swan.
So, when human on human action seems to be too much of a bother, there are always other options…:
Congratulations are in order for P Selvakumar, a 34-year-old Indian farmer who last week tied the knot with a russet-coloured mongrel dog called Selvi. The four-year-old blushing bride looked absolutely lovely, dressed in a sari and garlanded with flowers. One assumes – or hopes, at least – that the happy couple plan to adopt.
Mr Selvakumar married the dog to bring himself good luck; however, not so long ago an elderly Nepalese chap called Phulram Chaudhary married a dog – a different dog, obviously – for precisely the same reason and was dead within the week from some mysterious infection. Rabies or parvovirus, maybe.
It is not so long ago that a Sudanese man got himself hitched to a lithe young goat – although he was a more reluctant bridegroom: village elders forced him into the union after he had been espied having congress with the creature while they were both still single. That, as you will be aware, is really not on. These are conservative societies, after all.
And following the Indian wedding, Mr Selvakumar was at pains to point out that his Selvi was a bitch, just in case anyone thought there was anything weird or perverted going on.