is a man, and not a chimpanzee, because for
millions and millions of evolving years we killed
for a living.
Robert Ardrey, The Hunting Hypothesis
His belly empty,
his family crying for food and depending on him for survival, The
Domesticated Man heads out alone to kill for a living, a modern figure
playing an ancient role.
To ensure a successful
hunt, he carries out the hunters familiar ritualhe makes
a listthen arms himself heavily with a checkbook and drives
to the super market hunting grounds in air conditioned comfort, listening
to a Mozart flute concerto on CD. He leaves his car in the parking
lot, the better to stalk his prey.
He has hunted
many times before and knows where to find his quarry. He moves stealthily
forward, passing produce on the left and the checkout counters on
the right. Cunningly, his eyes darting and alert and all his senses
in readiness, he creeps between Chinese take-out and the mylar balloons,
between deli sandwiches and wine, past cakes in navy blue and fluorescent
yellow icing, then inches carefully past health foods and fish.
is because we were hunters, because
we killed for a living, because we matched
wits against the whole of the animal world,
that we have the wit to survive even in a
world of our own creation.
between health food and fish, he knows his prey is apt to be nearthe
spoor, he decides, is still freshso he slows his pace, constantly
sniffing the air for the familiar scent, walking with painstaking
care so as not to break any twigs, his muscles tense, his breathing
all but suspended in anticipation and excitement.
Atavism has long
since taken holdall his bodily systems are primed and ready
for pursuit, and he is is an instinctive killer, driven by hunger,
trained by eons of breeding and biological urges, burning to do what
those eons have bred him to doto match wits against the whole
of the animal world.
he is a modern Domesticated Man, he pauses long enough to reflect:
I have survived, so I am fit. I am the fittest so I will prevail.
So he moves forward,
peering around the corner by frozen meats and spotting his prey in
its customary habitatin the cooler on his left, between chicken
parts and turkey hams. He pauses to be sure hes approaching
from up wind, then moves forward even more stealthily than before.
In spite of the
undeniable forces than drive him, he is a model of patience as he
approaches his objective. He is utterly silent, a slow motion version
of slow motion.
Until . . .
Until The Moment
of Truththe sudden, wild, explosive act that is simultaneously
beautiful in its grace and terrible in its savagery. The pounce and
the kill are almost indistinguishable. Suddenly and dramatically,
the hunt is over and he pants with excitement as he grips his prey
in both handsa fine, bottom round roast, $1.89 per pound, 2.59
pounds, neatly wrapped in plastic in a little styrofoam tray, $4.11.
He heads for the checkout line.
among all the members of our primate
family the human being is unique, even in our
noblest aspirations, it is because we alone,
through untold millions of years, were
continuously dependent on killing to survive.
He has made his
His family will eat.
His noblest aspiration is achieved.
The Domesticated Man survives to hunt another day.
TheScreamOnline regular Rob Woutat has contributed a wide variety of pieces to newspapers and magazines and to the National Public Radio affiliate in Seattle/Tacoma. He has written two family histories and a memoir and is now working on a novel. Please check the Talent Index to see his other work.
He can be reached at rwoutat[AT]tscnet.com.
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