Thursday, August 23, 2012

Primate Primacy

I write a lot of long-winded diatribes on nonsensical topics, but today I want to focus on something serious for a change: Whether or not I can win a fight to the death against a chimpanzee. The short answer is “yes,” while the longer, more nuanced answer is “hell yes.” This conflicts directly with the opinion of every person ever. I’ve never talked to anyone who thinks I can beat a chimpanzee, and I bring up this topic a lot. Just ask my wife’s OB/GYN. His only comeback was “Shut up and let me deliver this baby.” I did not shut up.

Before I go any further, I want to make one thing clear for any animal lovers out there: Chimps are dicks. Anytime an environmentalist tells you humans are the only species that kills its own kind, they’re lying. Chimps do it all the time. Sometimes, they kill to overthrow the existing group leader. Other times, they kill and eat weak members of their society just because they can. In the animal kingdom, boredom is an acceptable justification for murder and cannibalism. The only thing chimps hate more than other chimps are humans. If you come within arm’s reach of a chimpanzee, it will do everything in its power to literally rip your face off. Chimps don’t even eat faces. They tear them off for the same reason we pop bubble wrap: It’s fun, and it makes a cool sound. There’s no such thing as a peaceful chimp; there are only chimps currently engaged in face ripping and chimps waiting for you to come a little closer.

Chimp vs. Human Combat Guide

An ape is a ferocious opponent, but it’s still no match for me under the right conditions. Arguing otherwise is an insult to me personally and to our species as a whole. Throughout history, human beings have harnessed their collective creativity and intelligence to massacre creatures dumber than themselves. Mankind and chimpanzees once shared the savannah. Humans went on to invent tools and NASCAR and the dollar menu and McDonalds. Chimps just hung around the grasslands throwing poop at each other. I’m not sure who came out ahead on that one. In terms of total population, though, Homo sapiens are the clear winners. There are more than six billion people on earth, while chimpanzees are teetering on the brink of extinction. The endangered species list is a victory banner showing all the uppity animals we knocked down a peg. We already fought our battle with nature. Spoiler alert: humanity won.

While a group of humans will always beat a group of apes, this debate is about whether an individual human can defeat a lone ape in single combat. Chimps are stronger and faster than humans, which will help them exactly not at all. Human beings didn’t surpass lesser primates by challenging them to foot races and arm wrestling matches. We did it by spearing them to death in their sleep. If you match a chimp’s physical abilities against my cunning, I would emerge victorious at least some of the time. As with everything in life, the outcome depends on the circumstances. If I bump into a chimpanzee while wandering alone across the savannah, my face is as good as gone. But if the same encounter happens in the middle of my kitchen, I’d look pretty good for family photos later that afternoon. This is of course a lie. I’d ruin those pictures even with my face intact.

For this scenario, let’s say a chimp wanders through my front door and we’re both surprised to see each other. He was hoping for an unopposed home invasion, and I was looking forward to a quiet day without any fights to the death against a fellow hominid. All that goes out the window when the chimp lays his beady little eyes on my supple, unripped-off face. The next few seconds are critical. First, I’d crap my pants. This is not a sign of cowardice. It merely lightens my load and makes me more agile for the graceful combat maneuvers that lie ahead.  What happens after that depends on what I was up to before the chimp’s unexpected arrival.

Watching TV

If I’m sitting on the couch watching reruns of Law and Order, my reaction would begin and end at voiding my bowels. I can’t fight back if I’m not already in some kind of combat stance. The last time I was taken by surprise by an animal, a raccoon wandered through the doggie door and onto our enclosed back porch. I didn’t exhibit courage in that encounter, although by the time my wife got home you could hardly tell I’d been crying. A chimp is the size of at least five raccoons stacked on top of each other. The best I could hope for is a swift trip to the hospital and an attractive face donor.

Odds of survival: 5%

Odds of my story being loosely copied on the next episode of Law and Order: When Animals Attack: 82%

Making Dinner

If I’m chopping up vegetables when the chimp wanders into my house, I’d immediately drop the knife and reach for a kitchen chair. It would force separation between us and act as a reach weapon. Nothing in Darwinian evolution prepared an ape to defend itself against a thrashing from a sturdy wooden seat.

Odds of survival: 80%

Odds of getting yelled at by my wife for ruining a perfectly good kitchen chair: 100%

Performing Impromptu Indoor Carpentry

Every once in a while I get the sudden urge to build something out of wood in the middle of my living room. If I have a power tool of any kind, the chimp would have a bad day. He may be quick, but he can’t outrun a circular saw blade spinning at 1500 RPM. I’d live, but the price would be high. Nothing stains carpet like monkey blood.

Odds of survival: 95%

Odds of someone pointing out chimps aren’t monkeys: 75%

A circular saw isn’t as effective as a gun, but you can buy one without a three-day waiting period. 
Working out

The key to surviving a chimpanzee attack is sensible footwear. If I’m wearing running shoes, I’d use them for their intended purpose: kicking chimps in the balls. Even if I died, all that chimp would have to look forward to would be a life with no offspring and two exploded testicles.

Odds of survival: 50%

Odds of getting an endorsement deal from Nike for their new line of nut-crushing cleats: -5%

My victory may not be as inevitable as I at first assumed, but the scientifically rigorous results above speak for themselves. There are multiple ways I could survive and even thrive during an unprovoked chimpanzee attack. Chances are I’ll need to use some or all of these methods within my lifetime. There are nearly two vicious chimp-on-human attacks every year. I’m ready for my turn. Are you?
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