monkey touching


To be groomed by a monkey is to experience primordial emotions: the initial frisson of uncertainty in an untested relationship, the gradual surrender to another’s avid fingers flickering expertly across bare skin, the light pinching and picking and nibbling of flesh as hands of discovery move in surprise from one freckle to another newly discovered mole. The momentary disconcerting pain of pinched skin gives way imperceptibly to a soothing sense of pleasure, creeping warmly outwards from the centre of attention. You begin to relax into the sheer intensity of the business, ceding deliciously to the ebb and flow of the neural signals that spin their fleeting way from periphery to brain, pitter-pattering their light drumming on the mind’s consciousness somewhere in the deep cores of being.


—Robin Dunbar, Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language (1996)