Romance by the dozen…and more


This month’s Smithsonian magazine celebrates romance with the latest facts on monogamy by Jerry Adler.

Historically, he tells us, about 85 percent of all cultures have been what is properly called “polygynous,” which means that persons in power are permitted to have multiple sexual partners.

Bill Clinton, anyone? Or Henry the Eighth? Or Cleopatra?  Or, for that matter, Solomon, a king of one of the founding cultures of Christianity, who had a harem of 1,000 wives and concubines.

But having multiple mates, known as polygamy, is rare among mammals and not common even among the primates and our closest ancestors, the apes. Only gibbons are predominately monogamous, gorillas are polygynous and chimpanzees do not pair off at all.

“Accordingly,” writes Adler, “chimps have large testicles, producing copious sperm in order to maximize the chances of inseminating a female. Gorillas, who monopolize their mates, have relatively small testes. And humans? They’re in between.”

Biologists now know that dopamine areas in the human brain, associated with reward and motivation, are activated in romantic love. And the chemical oxytocin is linked with long-term, trusting love.

“In one study, giving oxytocin to monogamously attached men caused them to stand farther away from an attractive woman, by as much as six inches.”


The Way We Were:

Until the year 1,000, there was no English word for “she.”  


A version of the Hunger Games descended upon Key West air travelers last week at Atlanta airport.

Unrelated to weather problems but instead to precautionary repairs on a single plane, various Delta flights were delayed throughout the day (we scrambled in from Providence, R.I.) until the airline’s final flight from Atlanta to Key West out of Concourse C had amassed more passengers than staff reckoned the plane could safely handle.

“A weight imbalance situation has arisen,” said a loudspeaker announcement the crowd assembled to board a Boeing for the 7 p.m. non-stop flight to Key West.

The request that 11 passengers now surrender their seats in in exchange for an air-ticket voucher worth $400 plus an overnight stay at an Atlanta hotel and then a flight the next morning to Miami where a bus ticket would allow them to complete their journey to Key West brought forth a response of exactly zero.

The announcement was repeated several times, each time with the coda that the plane would not fly without the sacrificial victims being found. The passengers looked at each other balefully.

This was the Hunger Games moment. “If we can find no volunteers,” said the voice, “We will have to remove 11 passengers involuntarily from the passenger list.”

Callously we crumpled ignobly into our seats, attempting to hide behind our neighbors. Ultimately the idea was aired that we jump up and down throughout the flight, lightening the load incrementally as we did so.

This may have been what brought the Hunger Games hunt to an end. Out of the clear blue came an announcement that, although Key West did indeed have a very short runway, there was no longer a weight-imbalance problem.

We took off about a half-hour hour late and we all arrived intact, glad to be home.


The father of multimillionaire conservatives David and Charles Koch was Wichita oilman Fred Koch, one of the founders of the John Birch society.              


On average, 20 children are injured by guns in America every day.

Another 3,000 of them die every year before reaching the emergency room.


Recorded temperatures in Hawaii and Alaska have never reached 100° Fahrenheit.

Key West has reached 100° Fahrenheit just once, in August 1886.


 Quote for the Week”

“Finish each day and be fine with it.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson



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