A few centuries ago, renowned lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson had occasion to remark: "Sir, a woman preaching is like a dog walking on its hind legs. You don't expect it to be done well — you are surprised to find it done at all."
Obviously times have changed a bit, as clergydom's gender walls continue to crumble — although don't count on a female cardinal or Pope (Mome?) any time soon — Pope Joan notwithstanding.
However, two-legged walking can still turn the head, depending on the practitioner. A few mountain gorillas seemed to have cottoned on to the trick, and inevitably the clips pop up on YouTube.
A week or two ago, Newshub showed one of Philadelphia Zoo's gorillas hustling along in the vertical position.
As with Dr Johnson's female preacher, you are not only surprised to see it done at all, but done well. The imposing chappie in question had all the appearance of being to the bi-pedal manner born, and looking as though he was just off to the corner dairy for a Red Bull.
According to his keeper, self-interest was at play — not Red Bull, but red balls. The gorilla was clutching some tomatoes he'd just been given, and he was wanting to prevent them from getting all squished, as would have been the case if he'd scuttled along on his customary all-fours.
Whatever, it was the first time I'd seen such an event, as appears to have also been the case for Samantha Hayes, the TV3 newsreader presenting the clip. The singularity of the big chappie sashaying along in the perfectly perpendicular I found — for some reason — highly amusing, and I cracked up.
Samantha must have been channelling me, because she cracked up a split second later. Her crack-up was a bit more serious, though, inasmuch as it quickly turned into a fit of the giggles — which, for a news presenter who's supposed to maintain due decorum, is somewhat frowned upon.
Just before Mike McRoberts scrambled to segue into the next item, Samantha managed to astutely remark on what seemed to make the spectacle so funny: "There's the 'missing link' right there," she blurted out between giggles.
But after they'd cut to the ads, and the moment seemed to have passed, a niggle kept on niggling that there was something else that had made the clip so funny for Samantha and me and no doubt quite a few others. A few minutes later the penny dropped — the ambulating silverback was a dead spit for POTUS — President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.
Right down to the lick of hair protruding like a bowsprit atop the beetled brow, for all money the dark-haired, well-haunched primate bustling along with tomatoes in hand was the black-overcoated President on the White House lawn scuttling away from the presidential helicopter, wasting no time seeking the sanctuary of the West Wing lest Stormy Daniels leap out from the rose bushes and slap a damning writ on him.
Some might say things have come to a sorry pass when the President of a nation with such a distinguished and pre-eminent history (albeit, like most countries, highly flawed), is crudely and amusingly evocative of an ambling primate. But we have the bizarre and surreal circumstances of a presidency that exists in a twilight zone between TV reality show, game show, and a MAFS ménage-à-trois nightmare between The Three Stooges, Dr Strangelove, and the National Rifle Association.
Put that in the mix of a Mad, Mad, Mad World where the collective armaments bill could feed and house the half of the planet's population still starving and unhoused twice over, and where a presiding occupation still seems to be how high we can raise the bar in the man's-inhumanity-to-man stakes, where gassed children with foaming mouths stagger amid sickeningly abject ruins in what is supposed to be the Cradle of Civilisation, and sometimes you have to do a Samantha and just crack up,in case you really crack up.