Built for the Stone Age – part four: Engagement Rings


So is everything adaptive? Well, there are sound theories which
suggest that even such things as the menopause and feverish temperatures – things which we think of as faults in our
design, are actually adaptive. And from this comes a way of thinking
that suggests: Well, in that case if we observe anything
in any animal, then it must be an adaption. But that suggests that we are slaves to
our genes. We are humans. We’re not just uncouth beast rutting in
the forests. We can overcome the animal in us with
our rational minds. We’ve got civilisation. We’ve got laws and
traditions that change all that. We’ve got marriage, and weddings, and
engagements and all that sort of stuff. The fight to breed is different with us. What? You mortals getting above
yourselves again? If you think that cultural traditions have
no adaptive value, consider then a world without
engagement rings. Oh hello, er sorry Excuse me I mean um… Well I was just… Sorry, I couldn’t let you just walk away Um… You are the most beautiful of women Um… Oh, this is going to sound corny: Marry me! Let’s have children. Why wait? Bye. Hello. My goodness! Sorry, I just can’t get over
how gorgeous you are. You must think me very strange… Why don’t go… er, no, on second
thoughts, let’s try my place. I could do this all day! This world favours men far too much. And besides – it’s silly! Let’s change the behaviour of women. Hello there! Oh I’m sorry I’ve mistaken you… …for someone considerably less
attractive. Where have you been all my life? Do you want children? Mine? Gets them every time! I’ve always wanted a solitaire diamond,
with white gold. What? For our engagement ring. Oh we don’t need an engagement ring.
It’s just a symbol. It has no practical value. Let’s be rational and save money. Don’t you love me then? Yeah – go on then. Wait here a sec. How much? But it doesn’t even do anything! It’s what the ladies expect these days, Sir. Oh go on then. Very good, Sir. [Whispered] ’Bye. Oh hello, could you tell me the… You have the most marvellous eyebrows. And what’s this? Realistic thumbs! And a hydrodynamic nose. You’re my dream of perfection. Oh be
mine! Fair enough. Let’s go for it then. You’ve
got the ring? Oh not you as well. Have you? Well no I’ve just spent- I’m just a bit skint at the moment. Not a man of means then. That’s a shame. Because, you know In most societies the wealth and status of the father, more than any other single factor, affects the survival chances of children. Is that a fact? Well, I’m doing all right. I’ve
just lost my chequebook actually, that’s what I meant. You know, I’m not convinced that you are
in love with me, and therefore more likely to stay with me
in the long term. Of course I love you… to distraction, for eternity… With a passion that words are unequal to
the task of… expressing. No ring, no me! Leave me your number and I could get
back to you once I’ve saved up. I don’t think so. ’Bye! Something’s changed in the world. It could take me ages now to find a
woman who doesn’t insist some sort of gift: a deposit, to show my good intentions. Sorted. I reckon I could operate pretty
well under these new rules. You must meet Daddy. Um? [Growl] [Voice over] She never told me that her
father was a judge. Gentlemen of the jury, it is clear to me that we shall not be needing you in this case. I shall pronounce judgement now and
save us all a lot of time. Eh? Silence you insufferable pervert! You have your way with my virtuous
daughter, and then abandon her without
consideration for the consequences of your actions on others. But it was her choice to- I said silence! I’m talking about me. Don’t you realise that I have invested a
great deal of time energy and genes in her. You’re not the only interested party, you
know. I want to see her find her find a husband
who will help her raise many children, and give me hordes of grandchildren, and not abandon her on some spree of
fornication! But I was only following my instincts! And so am I. Take this putrid fiend from my sight! He shall be incarcerated in agony for the
rest of his wretched life! I’ll buy you a ring! I’ll buy you a ring! It’s too late now. It’s too late now. It’s too late now. Oh! What a terrible dream! Thank goodness all he did in real life was
kick me out of the house. Oh yes – and saw my left leg off. Oh what am I going to do? These cultural niceties, such as
engagement rings and chainsaw-wielding judges. They are manifestations of deep-rooted
human instincts that have shaped behaviour over the millennia. You see men the world over want to have
sex a lot, but they don’t get to because women the world over don’t let them. And parents in all cultures show concern
for their offsprings’ choice of mate. Marriage exists in some form or another
in every culture, and there’s always some sort of
gift-exchange. Even chimpanzees have to give some sort
of gift their intended. The trouble is that this leaves so little
room for the philanderers, like me. Oh what am I going to do? Wait – of course! That’s it! Let’s hope my investment was worth
something. He does love me! Where have you been? I’ve been so
worried. Come in. Oh flowers, oh they’re lovely. I hope this is the way you mean to go on. Did you know that the average husband
spends seven times as much on personal items for his wife as he does on those for
himself? Oh, great. What’s the matter with your leg? Oh, nothing.

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