My day job is teaching in elementary and junior high, and I used to be quite worried about the scenes of aggression I’d see in the hall during breaks. Usually they involved boys, usually pinning each other to the floor, or goosing each other repetitively. I grew up in a two-girl household, and tried to avoid those rambunctious boys during my childhood, so it really bothered me.
And then we got puppies. And I came to realize, with the help of some cute puppy videos and much reading, that this isn’t fighting – it’s “wrassling.” (Wrassling is the same as wrestling, but not as competitive. It’s mostly to blow off steam, and often, people only wrassle with people they like and trust. People they trust to stop when the wrassling gets too intense.) I stopped putting an immediate halt to these hallway wrassling matches. I’d ask the two involved, “Are you OK?” and I was usually answered with a reassuring grin.
Just like dogs who have outgrown puppyhood, adult humans don’t tend to wrassle so enthusiastically. But sometimes you see people (and dogs) regress into friendly matches. It’s a mark of friendship, and sometimes a mark of friendship in a love relationship is really nice to see.
I’ve been watching cheetah videos lately, trying to fill out Kitty the Were-cheetah’s personality, and have hit several goldmines. I won’t explicitly talk about the “cheetah poops in jeep” video, but you can easily find it – I started with the Animal Planet one, and then went on to the “making of” vid on YouTube by Rcc Ali. It’s not something I can put in the book (for the most trivial reason, jeeps weren’t even around in 1899), but it does inspire me to have Kitty show her disdain and anger by totally breaking with the bounds of civilized behavior. (-: I haven’t figured out what that is yet, but I can hear my writing Girls sawing and hammering something together in the Basement. They are overjoyed!
I can talk about this video, where a cheetah male hops onto a sunroof (uh-oh!), then slips. His back paw scrabbles at the back of a tourist (yikes!!), but he manages to regain his footing, if not his dignity, back on the roof. No one is hurt, but the people laugh hysterically (I would too, in sheer relief). And Mr. Kitty is wounded, just wounded! His heart hurts, and he tries to stalk with dignity back off the safari vehicle, when he slips again! To just roars of laughter from the humans! Poor Mr. Kitty goes around a tree to nurse his pride in relative privacy, and then his brother rounds the corner and wrassles with him. “You doofus! Why you gotta be so dumb?”
There’s something so human about Mr. Kitty’s reaction to mistakes – and the following shame. Look at him, behind the tree. He’s the poster cat for sullen plotting of revenge.
People don’t tend to display this kind of raw emotion in public where other people can see and judge. But, we can see it in our pets. So, if you are stuck in your writing today, why not take a break and play with your babies, or go watch some cute videos on YouTube? Animal behavior could suddenly give you a key to the behavior between your humans.
And if it does, please share it here! Or, heck, any cute videos or pet stories are welcome in the comments.