spring. In the
spring, a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love …
and what about us older guys? Well, if Harlan is to be trusted, love
ain’t nothin’ but sex misspelled, and most of us older
guys are good spellers.
Frasier, for instance: one of my heroes.
Frasier? The Love Lion? Father of the Year by Act of Congress? No?
Well, gather ‘round, my sons, and I’ll tell you an
the late 60’s/early 70’s, Lion Country Safari in
California had a problem with its collection (a “pride”)
of lionesses. Specifically, in mating them. Several splendid young
males had been introduced to the group, but without any notable
success. In fact, one superb specimen from a private menagerie was a
little forward in his attentions, apparently believing that the babes
love it when you’re aggressive, and in return was so badly
mauled by the pride that he required extensive medical attention.
the situation was dangerous, because what you basically had was a
group of about 14 sexually frustrated, pissed-off females who were in
perpetual heat. And it weren’t nothin’ nice. Their
handlers found them difficult to control.
this mix, for what reasons no one knows, came Frasier, a most
unlikely Romeo. He came to Lion Country when a traveling Mexican
circus went bankrupt. He was elderly – about 79 or 80 in human
terms – and in very poor physical condition. His joints were
arthritic. He was nearly blind and toothless, and as the final
indignity, his mane was moth-eaten. Even his kidneys didn’t
work properly – he was frequently incontinent. I guess they
put him in with the young lionesses because they felt he’d be
harmless, old and feeble as he was.
kidneys, eyes and teeth might not have worked. But there was, as it
turned out, one part of Frasier that was hitting on all cylinders.
the dawn …
was found lying on his back with all four paws up in the air,
exhausted, and the lionesses – that’s what was incredible
– from a group that was suffering from an extended form of lion
PMS, they were now lying about the enclosure, lazily grooming
themselves, flicking their tails, and wearing those smartass female
expressions common to almost any species of mammal, that lets any
reasonably intelligent male okay, that’s not so many) know that something is up.
Frasier had performed magnificently over the nighttime, mounting
every single lioness, capturing their hearts where the more beautiful
– and younger – had failed.
contrast in their treatment couldn’t have been more dramatic.
Remember the handsome young stud they nearly sent to his heavenly
reward? With Frasier, they chewed
his food for him.
When he decided to go for a little exercise, two lionesses would walk
on either side of him to prop up his aching, elderly bones. They
would do likewise when one of the lionesses would again go into heat.
The fortunate one would assume the position while two lionesses,
like priestesses, would escort the elderly but virile – to say
the least – male to the lucky female, whereupon Frasier would,
in the words of noted grasslands naturalist and big cat expert Sir
Graham Hill, get his
adoring harem worshiped him, and he was a magnificent example as a
father – something like 35 kids in the first year of his reign.
Congress passed a resolution proclaiming him Father of the Year.
lasted for about 18 months, when the Rudolph Valentino/Clark
Gable/Cary Grant of the feline set passed away in his sleep, and
entered into legend. He had several of his ladies, shall we say, in
a family way when he left us.
I have it on good authority that the pride was distraught when he
died. Get this: as you might expect, they never accepted another
male again. I can see them lying about the enclosure, gossiping
casually … (voices: think Oprah.)
that last one – with the dark mane – he was cute, in his
way, but …”
girlfriend, come on out and say it. Once you’ve had Frasier, every other male is just wasting
it, sister-girl! At least we got our memories – and a memory
of Frasier is better than just about any other male in the flesh!”
– proof that the art of love knows neither age nor season.
And what of those offspring? Well, I did get an anecdote about one,
Barton, who was sold to the Cleveland zoo. He lived a normal life,
but at the latter part of it – but at the same age as his
legendary dad when Frasier was given the amatory challenge of a
introduced three young lionesses into his compound, for much the same
reasons – they were difficult to handle.
rose to the occasion, but at what cost as he – no delicate way
ti put this – copulated himself to death. But he mated all
old man (so to speak) would have been proud.