Zoo Cues

By Roberta Sarver

 

Did it ever occur to you that animals might have one up on us humans?  They give nonverbal cues to signify their intent.  It’s as simple as that.

 

Watch the chimpanzees at the zoo.  If you think their teeth-baring smile is a sign of friendship and you smile back, don’t be surprised when they leap at the bars in an agitated manner.  Why? Baring the teeth in a grin is a threat to them.

 

When faced with a territorial dog guarding his property and you stare into his eyes, he sees that as a threat and may leap at your throat.

 

In the same way, wouldn’t it be convenient if we humans could issue certain social cues like the animal world?

 

Say you’re at a party and you’re bored with the person talking to you.  You glance at your watch, then around the room, but the other person doesn’t catch your cue.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could perhaps bare our teeth in an O-shape that says, “Stop! You make me want to go home and cover up my head!”

 

Ever notice that lions, when stalking their prey, often let out a huge “Roar!”  Think how much money men could save on chocolate and flowers if only they could walk up to a girl they want to marry and bellow out a primordial roar.  Of course, the girl would then need two options to respond: a shrug of the shoulders to convey “no way” or a smile and a nod of the head to say, “I’m willing to consider you.”

 

What about cues that tell a person he has halitosis?  Our Siamese cat shakes his head and backs away if someone gets in his face with bad breath.  Did you ever wish you could do that?

 

Would someone please start a cue like our little dog?  When he wants attention, he puts his muzzle under our hands and nudges.  No games, just, “A little attention here.”

 

Cues from the zoo: what a great way to simplify our lives.

Roberta Sarver is an author and songwriter who lives in central Missouri. Her humor columns appear in the Versailles Leader-Statesman and her original songs of worship have appeared on radio stations across the nation. She and her husband are the parents of seven children.

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