In the twilight of summer, with the Winter's skeletal hand knocking upon the door, the pungent odor of sex floods out into the world of insects and somewhere, amongst the leaves, amongst the cooling nighttime foliage of a dying season, the male mantis raises its head with interest. Stalking with alien, spasmodic movements, the mantis sets out in search of the irresistible aroma of Venus. Emerging from the vegetation, his member gorged with green mantis blood, he sees her. Casting a magnificent figure in the ghostly moonlight, the female mantis perches upon a branch. At the sight of her the male begins to rock his head side to side in gleeful anticipation of the sexual feast (little does he know!) that is soon to come.
What follows is an intricate dance, with much fluctuation of antennae, and followed by the male's slow deliberate approach towards the object of his desire. For her part, the female is largely docile waiting, no doubt, with the bemused thought that females of all the species have had over millennia: quit the act, and show me what you've got! The male, being a male, is completely oblivious to the thoughts of his lady friend. He continues his macho display flexing his abdomen and posturing wildly. Eventually mutual rubbing of antennae occurs until the female, slick and wet with lust, strikes a beckoning pose and the male seizes the opportunity by mounting her and plunging his serrated joystick into mantis heaven.
Without even the opportunity to finish the act, without, even, the experience of smoking a cigarette to accompany post coital bliss, the male mantis will die. In a bizarre and cruel irony it is necessary for the female mantis to decapitate the male in order to induce ejaculation. The male will literally 'lose his head' in the course of his amorous adventures. Often the female will cannibalize the corpse of her unfortunate partner as her lover's body provides a great source of nutrition for her, now pregnant, body.
It sucks to be a male mantis.
In the club, a coked-up muscle boy struts in a hilarious bulging bronzed mating dance. He has scented the sweet smell of womanhood. As the music thumps he'll flex and pose as if through his amphetamine haze he's picturing himself, waxed and oiled, competing in a bodybuilding contest in Zurich. Bounce, bounce, bounce; first left peck, then right peck will expand then deflate. As he pouts, frowns and tries to look as serious as a funeral for a friend the plight of the mantis starts to seem rosy.
The fluorescent pink bum-bag upon his waist is the tragicomic icing on this anabolic (beef)cake.
The female punter on the other hand seems to judge this behavior with the same cool insight as her mantis counterpart. Sure, she’ll shake her booty to arouse the male, but she will, at least for the most part, maintain a sense of calm control in the face of this sweaty vulgar display. Fortunately for the male of this species the female has no desire to snack upon his brains. Climax will more likely be reached with Viagra than with the plunging of mandible into grey matter…
Where am I heading with this?
I've made a startling and slightly embarrassing self observation. When I'm catching the train or tram, when I'm sitting in a coffee shop or enjoying a few rays in the park, I'm almost invariably reading a book. It is inevitable that at some stage I'll smell the pleasant chemical scent of hairspray, or perhaps the breeze will carry in it a hint of perfume, its sweet gift tickling my nose with nostalgic reminiscences of lovers long gone. And if it isn't a smell, perhaps I'll see a flash of skin, a nicely formed behind or the shiny luster of auburn hair. What I'm trying to say is that -just like the ill-fated mantis or the misguided would-be-Spartan - I notice girls. I notice them in all their glory and I love them in all shapes and sizes. I'm subject to the same animal instinct as our muscle bound friend. The mantis’s susceptibility to the dangerous charms of his mate's pheromones is not only his burden to bare.
This, however, is not my humiliating observation. I feel no shame in acknowledging that 'da booty' gets me going like every other man out there. No, what I realized today is that I must exhibit some sort of courtship ritual myself. As the mantis jiggles from side to side, as the hulk wobbles his pectorals to the beat of the music, so, too, must I do something, however unintentional, to show off my sexual receptivity. This is where the embarrassment comes into play, for today I discovered my own little dance - a dance I'd wager I've been tapping out for a long time.
Remember when I said that I'm almost always reading a book on the train? Well, today a stunning girl boarded on my journey into the city. She was dressed in those retro thrift store clothes that I love so much. She exuded funk. With jet black hair, and eyes the deep blue of Scottish lakes, she was sent to me by some time machine straight from my teenage wet dreams. Never wanting to make a girl uncomfortable, I'm a very careful observer of the opposite sex. I'll only steal furtive glances at a girl, and only then if I know that she isn't aware that I'm doing so. It is when their attention is focused my way that my personal dance is revealed, and I know this because today when the raven-haired beauty glanced my way I caught myself as I raised my arms slightly, flexed my hands at the wrist, all so she could see... the title of my book! It would appear that I've somehow developed the notion that women will be attracted to me on the basis of prose. The Gulag Archipelago is my insect jitter; Kafka is my pelvic thrust; Oscar Wilde is my form of flexing and posing. The realization came to my attention this morning, but it didn't come alone. As knowledge of my personal courtship ritual dawned upon me the awareness that I'm a very strange man crept in as well.