One day, me and my friends are having a lovely outing to a park. The sun is shining, it’s warm, children are laughing in the background, middle-class people throw balls for their dogs. It is perhaps one of the nicest days of the year so far.
I turn to my flat mate, contented smile on my face and say: “Do you know there’s porn for pandas?”
“It’s pretty amazing actually – not like the quality, though I sure they don’t skip out on production values, I mean, like why they use panda porn.”
“Apparently pandas aren’t all that different from us. When they’re choosing a mate they have to be physically and mentally attracted to the other panda. Only were we have a pool of about a billion people, they only have a couple of thousand potential panda fuck buddies around – which is super sad when you think about it.”
“That’s why they use the porn, to force an attraction – get them all horny and stuff. Kinda like I was after I split up with my last boyfriend and was so horny I was willing to sleep with anyone, do you remember that?”
“Well anyway, I just thought it was a pretty interesting concept. The whole forcing yourself to like someone thing. What do you think?”
“I think we should go home now.”
Once my friend had successfully ditched me, under the pretence she was just going to the shop for ice cream, I started to wonder more and more about our panda brethren. The Guardian reports, that despite the romantic tendencies of pandas for ‘soul mates’ and finding another panda they can ‘really connect with’, the breeders of one Chinese breeding centre have a near 100% success rate with getting pandas horny enough to settle for just about any old slut.
And I suppose the reason I find this so interesting, is that, even without the pressure of keeping the human race going, do we not find ourselves, now and again, trying to force an attraction?
I remember a time when I was 16 and I was just coming out of my ‘baby sumo’ phase, as my mum traumatically referred to it. I had still yet to fully work out how to put make up on. My hair was frizzy 80% of the time, most of my clothes were from Primark and I had still yet to find a bra that fitted (4 years on and I’m still looking). But out of all of these concerns, one rose above the rest: When was I going to get a boyfriend? Would I ever get a boyfriend? And where the fuck was he?
At the time, two of my friends had boyfriends. To me it seemed like they were part of this exclusive club. Any teenage girl knows all about the ‘boyfriend club’ and how cool it seems from the outside. A club built on naive fantasy, where those on the outside, imagined it to be nothing but spontaneous gifts, meaningful conversations, sighing, and LOADS OF SNOGGING!
But the only problem with the boyfriend club was that you needed to first GET a boyfriend, which at 16 seemed like the impossible. Or at least for me it did.
Until Greg came along.
As I mentioned, two of my friends had boyfriends. One of these friends was SUPER COOL and had an older boyfriend – WITH A MOTERCYCLE MOTHERFUCKER! This super cool boyfriend also had a friend, called Greg who too was older and also had a motorcycle. This meant in teenage girl world, he was, like, super cool, and like, a total dream boat.
Only... he would have been, if he was attractive. Which he wasn’t... he was also pretty thick, not really doing much with his life, and, looking back, probably pretty desperate, considering he wanted to go out with someone still doing her GCSEs.
But still, at the time, this man was my best shot. I HAD to be attracted to him. I thought, if coolness was like tesco club card points, I would have a £50 cashback voucher with this boy!
And so I tried many things to inspire attraction. Nothing pornographic like the pandas do, but you know, general looking – mostly looking in fact. I think I thought that if I just stared at him long enough, I could trick my brain into thinking he looked like Brad Pit.
Then I went out with my friend, her boyfriend, and Greg on a little motorcycle outing. Surely by feeling the wind on my face and looking FIT AS in leather would help inspire some feelings of lust?
Sadly, this failed to inspire anything other than a sore ass and a realization that bikes are stupid, because who, really, gives up the comfort of a car for death on wheels? Plus leathers for bikes aren’t sexy, they make you look fat and like a man. And I’m sure I had a builder’s bum all the way up the M1.
So what did I learn from this experience?
I suppose a moral message would be that, we are not pandas. We do not need to force ourselves into relationships, into an attraction because of some perceived threat of loneliness or ‘perks’ (such as endless snogging). There are 6.8 billion human beings on Earth, unlike pandas that only have 2000, so our chances of finding our ‘soul mate’ is a damn sight higher than those teddy bear fuckers.
Also, even though I didn’t end up with Greg, a friend of mine soon picked him up. And the level of smugness I felt from her getting my sloppy seconds, and mastering the art of forced-attraction, was definitely worth all the masturbation I had to suffer through for the rest of my life as a 16 year old.
 Not his real name because I post this stuff on Facebook, though really, changing his name is probably pointless because most people on facebook will know who I’m referring to – but the gesture is there.