If baboons ran schools ... was my working title for this article. This article started in the summer when my wife, Doris, gave me a copy of A Primate's Memoir by Robert M. Sapolsky. Doris is always giving me books to read. I read few of them because her reading taste is much higher brow than mine is. I never miss Buffy or Angel; I always read the comics after the sports and before world news. Doris reads the Sunday NY Times even if it takes her a week; I skim it in 45 minutes or less. But hey, I was going on a 3-week trip to Alaska and Doris was not happy to be left behind so in the interest of tranquility I said, "Hey, love to read it." I figured that with luck, 3 weeks and two long legs in the air, maybe I'd get half way through the book before I returned and I could fake it when she asked me "So, how did you like the baboon book?" I figured I could say, "Loved it. Did I get any good mail while gone?"

The problem began just after lift-off. I started to read A Primate's Memoir and I started to laugh. At first it was just a chuckle but before we cleared Nebraska I had tears in my eyes, was almost doubled up and was trying frantically to muffle belly laughs. The stewardess came over to me 3 times to see if they could help. They thought I was in pain. And I was, but the pain was not being able to share this amazing book which talked of real science with real life in real situations in the bush, in towns in Africa and in New York city. It was real primatology; some wore clothes and some didn't. The book I thought I wouldn't finish in 3 weeks was actually finished before I landed in Seattle. ... more ...


©2002 AIT Press & Thom Gillespie. Pictures by Eriberto Lozada from the Butler University J. James Wood Science Writer Lecture Series