Bryce and I were looking for something to watch last night. We had watched one of the new Arrested Developments (funny, but not quite as funny as the original), then Bryce watched a really cool documentary on the making of Dark Side of the Moon (it actually made me appreciate the musicality of Pink Floyd) while I knit away on my neverending project. It was a rare TV night where we just wanted to veg, so we looked for something else. Enter the nature program that made me infuriated.
"Wings of Life" by Disney Nature. A visually stunning documentary on how animals with wings -- birds, bees, bats, butterflies, etc -- have sustained life on this planet. That's how it was described on Netflix, anyway. I should have paid attention when it said "BIRDS" and "BEES."
The program is narrated by a very familiar female voice that we couldn't place, who is the character "Flower." Not the adorable skunk from a certain deer movie, but literally any flower, ever. In the time we managed to watch this thing, her voice was a bucket orchid in a rainforest, a saguaro cactus flower, and milkweed. The constant personification of flowers was on the annoying side, but the stunning slowed-down visuals made up for it. Mostly. Quickly we realized that this entire show was about reproduction. It was like flower p0rn, with slowly unfurling petals and long proboscises dipping in and out of tubular flowers, and bees being held gently against their will by bucket orchids so that they could be fitted with pollen packets to deposit into another flower. It was Fifty Shades of Flowers. The narrator kept talking about "love messengers" and "using other creatures to create the next generation of flowers."
It was an entire program on how successful the freaking FLOWER has been at reproducing, even though it needs a third party to do it. The BEES and BIRDS and BUTTERFLIES are like little buzzing reproductive endocrinologists, inseminating flowers everywhere. It should have been funny, but it pissed me off. A damn flower is more successful at reproducing than I am. Maybe I need to enlist some butterflies from my garden to help me out, since obviously I am having a hard time with medical pollination.
The worst segment was the saguaro cactus. This was a twofer. This crafty cactus in the Sonoran Desert produces flowers that are filled with nectar and ringed in pollen that bloom for one night only. Apparently bats from an island in the Sea of Cortez come flocking over to dive bomb the flowers. This is no delicate hummingbird dance, they literally fly straight INTO the flowers, chowing down like mad and licking up all that yummy nectar with their long tongues like sloppy, drunk, 2 am pizza eaters. That part was funny and entertaining. Not so funny is that the only bats that fly over are FEMALE, and they are all freaking PREGNANT. So the saguaro cactus reproduces itself by attracting craving-crazed hormonal bats who need the nectar to gather strength for birthing and nursing. AWESOME. I will now always associate giant spiky cacti with fertility. And with being far more fertile than me. Apparently the flowers then turn into fruits, which the mommy bats then come back to scarf up, and in addition to pollinating the crap out of those saguaro flowers they then spread seeds through epic pooping of the fruits all over the desert floor. Somehow they didn't choose to provide that visual in the program.
I guess my point is that I cannot escape fertility ANYWHERE. Here I thought I was going to see really cool footage of flying critters, and I did, but with the heaviest-handed fertility focus ever. I mean, it shouldn't have been a surprise, because really biology is all about sex and reproduction and continuation of species--but the constant use of words like "strategies" and discussion of how clever "we flowers" are in getting it on made me feel even more like a reproductive failure. I would never be successful in the wild. Unless of course I could figure out a way to get orchid bees to deliver fertility packets to me, but I feel like I would be the rare bucket orchid whose packets were defective. Sigh. Maybe I should look at it from the other way... I am part of evolution, too--I am adapting and utilizing third parties to make reproduction possible. I may be unsuccessful as of right now, but do those bucket orchids despair if no bee comes and drops into the secret pollen packet passageway on the first try? It might not be the first time but eventually that right bee will come and that packet will get delivered. I just need the right bee at the right time. I thought I had everything all lined up with this last effort, but apparently that wasn't the right bee. Ugh, stupid nature show, you have both pissed me off and provided me with a way to put a positive spin on my repeated failure to reproduce. Hopefully next time around I can make like a sloppy pregnant saguaro-eating bat.