Cliff Buchler
2 minute read
31 Jul 2019
9:30 am

Lessons from the herbivores

Cliff Buchler

But, thankfully, there the comparison ends. Firstly, a sloth is a herbivore, and I don’t fancy salads, never mind leaves.

Sloths in a sanctuary on the shores of Gatun Lake, in the outskirts of Panama City, Panama, 01 April 2019 (issued 02 April 2019). Picture: EPA-EFE / CARLOS LEMOS

During my teens, mom used the word “slothful” to describe my attitude towards tidiness and hygiene.

Stinky socks left under the bed for weeks, wet towels spread over the bathroom floor for Suzette to pick up and wash, and an uncapped toothpaste tube dripping green slime all over the washbasin.

Then ear wax and toe jam build-up that had mom chomping at the gums. Once a month she’d trap me in the bath and, armed with ear buds and a pot scourer, she’d do what she called a proper spring clean.

To be slothful also encompasses being lazy and indolent, presupposing I was a bad boy.

That was then. Nowadays I’m neat and tidy, religiously picking out toe jam, hanging up wet towels and closing toothpaste tubes.

Ear wax remains a sensitive issue, but my Heidi does mom’s job whenever she senses my hearing fluctuating.

The word slothful again reared its ugly head – both figuratively and literally. I came across an article in National Geographic magazine describing a “sloth”, evidently the earth’s slowest mammal.

The photograph shows an ugly looking species sporting three toes (imagine the amount of accumulated jam) and with hairy ears (OK, let’s leave it there). Had my mom read the article she would’ve given me the knowing wink.

But, thankfully, there the comparison ends. Firstly, a sloth is a herbivore, and I don’t fancy salads, never mind leaves.

Secondly, sloths are earth’s slowest mammals – they move a few metres a day, resting 20 hours out of 24. Their metabolism is so slow they climb from the trees once a week to obey the calls of nature. Must say, that would suit me down to the ground, given my nuisance nightly excursions.

And how’s this for love-making? They mate while hanging from a branch of a tree. Reminds me of pals who bragged about hanging from chandeliers. Must confess trying it once from the dressing table, but collided with the headboard, leaving me stunned and Heidi laughing her head off.

Given their laziness, foreplay takes forever, but the end game is over in a tick. Maybe we oldies can learn from them.

I mean, what’s the rush? But let’s give branches and chandeliers a pass, what with blood pressure and bouts of vertigo…

Cliff Buchler.

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