The Grape Vine

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Guest column by Yuri Raisinstein, award-winning author of The Grape Advantage: Us versus Anarchy

Sustainable? Cuke-o-phobic?

Feline colleagues often ask me how I can justify living a comfortably lazy life as a Grape Monkey, enjoying delicious sweet treats by just snapping my fingers, while most other monkeys have to make do on a diet of mainly dried out cucumber, and work for most of their waking hours. Why do I get free time and ripe grapes, while others get dried out cucumbers and burnout?

Let me start by saying that many other species also reserve different diets for various classes of their species. Grapes for some, cucumbers for others – it’s the way we primates roll. Just look that other famous primate, the human being:

Humans had some castes that ate lentils (Dalit, or untouchables), and other classes that ate better-prepared kosher food, or some (the 1%) who could even limit their diet to catered, well-branded food in trendy third spaces.

So dietary difference (Vive la différence!) has always been an acceptable way of creating the unique individuality that adds so much meaning and drama to Grape life.

Roots of the the Great Grape Culture

Grape Monkey culture started in the 20th Century when our Great Prophet – Frans de Waal – fed a few of our sacred ancestors – Experimental Monkeys 1 and 2 – grapes, while feeding other less high-end monkeys cucumbers for performing the exact same tasks. To this day, almost all Grape Monkeys have pictures of Frans-the-Father hanging in their bedrooms and offices.

Gilded Pictures of Frans the Father

On that Holy Day that we remember in the Gilded Picture, Father Frans alloted to Monkey 1 the cucumber of shame – the vegetable of losers and suckers, while our great-ancestor Monkey 2 received the Holy Grape of the Laboratory Sample – or what is commonly called the Holy Sample.

When Monkey 1 got angry and began to act aggressively, Frans-the-Father smiled knowlingly and scientifically, and looked favorably at Monkey 2’s plexiglass cage. This smile (the Smile of the Selected – החיוך של הנבחר) is why we Grape Monkeys get to live more high-quality lives than the rejected cukes ever will. We recite this inspiring story to one another almost every day before the First Grape (Primum Uva – 6 am). And the Gilded Picture captures that famous smile.

Cucumber’s sad Decline

In the last few decades, Cucumber terrorist organizations like Cuke-nuke and Pickle-o-thon have destroyed thousands of these framed pictures while stealing billions of dollars of grapes and grape juice reserves. But we hope that new laws forbidding cucumber monkeys from gathering in groups of more than six might improve things crime-wise. Likwise, the decision to tatoo cucumber monkeys and implant security chips in their arms are promising initiatives – lots of new ideas are circulating that could keep Grape culture alive for eternity, like it says “will be” in The Holy Book of the Grape (كتاب العنب المقدس).

And I don’t think that the inequality question is as important as media make it sound. In the latest surveys, Grape Monkeys suggest that the state of cucumber-monkeys concerns only 4 % of the population – well below other issues like grape prices and wine quality. And the lack of education or functional family units in Cuke settlements seems to point to an evolutionary difference that simply renders them incapable of enjoying Grape High Culture.

Faith in Our Shared Grapeness

It may be true that the humans let themselves fall into extreme inequality, and that the loss of shared empathy destroyed their ability to care for one another and ended up driving their own species to extinction. But Grape Monkeys will never let cucumber terrorism sink us to that level. We look to Frans-the-Father to lead us into the paradise that grape consumption assures us all, in the name of the Bloom, the Pulp, the Skin, and the Sacred Seeds.

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