Eddie and George were best buds. They had been through school together, gone to university together, and so of course it was only natural for the pair of them to work at the same zoo at the exact same job – both of them joint co-head Panda keeper. Best mates, nothing could come between them. Until that fateful Halloween fancy dress party.
Of course, they were both of them going to hand stitch their own panda costume. Incredibly true to life these things were, because the pair of them lived and breathed and dreamt pandas. Well, you pretty much had to, the finicky nature of these beasts and getting them to mate successfully and all that. There’s a joke in panda keeping circles, that the word panda is Mandarin for malaise, because that’s a panda’s default one and only personality type, especially when you’re trying to get the sods pregnant.
No malaise from Eddie though at that party when he boffed George’s new squeeze. Eddie felt bad about it, but no sense of guilt – when an attractive young woman dressed as an owl yanks you out at a party and instructs you to take her, panda-style in the back garden, what else is a young man to do? Clearly a sex mad furry of some kind driven to mad lust by the accurate stitching of his panda eyebrows, and how often in life did an opportunity like that present itself?
But they got past this minor bump in their road. They got on with life, with the really important things – getting their morose and ill-tempered star panda couple up the family way. It’s a tightrope walk, getting pandas to mate. Nothing they tried seemed to work. They wove bamboo canes into heart shapes. They shipped in musks and pheromones from other zoos and staged elaborate dress up scenes with their panda costumes in an attempt to stroke some form of jealous lust that might result in a Halloween party situation (for the panda couple).
In desperation, George raised the final, terrible roll of the dice. Eddie regarded the panda costume laid out on the table next to a turkey baster George had daubed with black and white paint and felt a sense of growing horror. He couldn’t mean…
But oh yes, George did. One of them was going to have to dress up as a panda and do the needful.
And Eddie knew what was coming. The sodding Halloween party was going to come back to haunt him. George would have his revenge, served not cold, but at panda body temperature. He was somewhat taken aback therefore when George patted him on the back and told him that he didn’t mind taking on the panda insemination role, as long as Eddie would fly to China and collect the panda semen.
This wasn’t a problem for Eddie. He liked travel, he liked new places. George gave him a best bud shoulder hug. He put the turkey baster away and from a drawer fetched a small pile of what looked to Eddie to be chainmail.
‘Right then,’ George said. ‘It turns out that their male - Hung Hung is homosexual. They tell me he’s pretty accurate, but all the same, chainmail underpants would be a wise precaution, don’t you think?’