What a Young Girl Ought to Know, by Mary Wood-Allen, Part Three

Twilight Talk V. Orphan fish need your sympathy! (And your forks, to spear that delicate white meat, flavored, preferably, with a citrus sauce). Many fish eggs never hatch, because they get eaten by other animals before they have a chance at precarious life. Okay, now I’m crying (not). I’m actually craving a flying fish roe sushi roll, which I don’t usually prefer.

From fish roe and the cold blooded creatures, we now turn to birds, and here we have a little bit of romance to liven up this bland book. Mother speaks of watching a pair of Baltimore orioles (not the baseball team) the previous summer, building their nest little bits at a time, and the male bird singing to the female bird as she sat on her eggs. Oh, and sometimes proud Papa would sit on the eggs, while Mama took a much deserved break downtown, wondering at life before, when she was a free woman and not tied down.

Yet again, we learn that the eggs came from the mother’s ovary, and the father supplied a “product” in order to fertilize them. Presumably, alcohol. Lots of alcohol + weak-willed woman = bun in oven (in this case, a half dozen fuckin’ buns. Yowza).

Lest one think too long about that far-from-idyllic scene, Mom rhapsodizes about how birds teach us love and tenderness, and how nests are like little bird-homes and everything is nice. No one ever, ever gets beaten, and the nest never needs to be scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed like that damned floor that’s always dirty from your father’s hob-nailed boots.

Now we come to mammals, which take milk from their mother, and oh, my, we have the word breast! I know, I know, it was used to mean the upper chest region prior to being sexualized into a term for a female’s mammary glands, but in such a dry book, one takes what one can get for amusement. Unlike other creatures that expel their eggs, mammals are far, far better developed in the fact that they keep their eggs in a small “sack” in their body. Paper or plastic? I would think plastic might be better, as it would hold more moisture, but think of the chemicals! According to Dr. Wood-Allen, mother’s breathing “purifies and cleanses” the fetus, which I suppose is true, if you’re huffing Mr. Clean.

The lower animals are generally self-supporting pretty quickly after birth, except, of course, for the human baby. Which, one must admit, is true. One wonders how the human species has survived for as long as it has, considering that as a newborn, until about maybe the age of five, we’re pretty shit out of luck at helping ourselves if left alone.

So, why does the good doctor think that human babies are so helpless, an anomaly in the animal world? “I have come to see that it is a very wise and beautiful thought of God . . . the more valuable the creature, the more helpless is his infancy.” Put an infant near a hungry alligator then. Where’s your God now, punk?

Fish, snakes, frogs? They aren’t important. We might eat them, but that’s because we’re better than them. Birds are a little higher up the scale, probably because they seem to care a teensy bit about their children. Until they kick them out of the nest. Mammals are even higher because they have to stay close to their mother for their nourishment. And humans are the highest mammal of all, and they’re speshul and pweshus. Yeah, that’s why babies can’t even fucking lift their heads for weeks or months, and forget about walking for a good long time. Yeah, we’re stellar in the way of advancement. But we’re children of God, and that’s why we must be molded slowly, so we can be smrt and lord it over all the rest of the animals. Until they, you know, eat us.


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