Accountancy has a good claim to being the world’s oldest profession.
Edward Chancellor, Wall Street Journal review of “Double Entry” by Jane Gleeson-White
We were hanging around, me and my buddies Ug and Nutz, trying to resist the inexorable tide of evolution. We could dimly imagine a future in which it would be considered “impolite”–a concept we were having trouble with–to burp audibly while washing down a side of bison with some crude mead. It wasn’t making us happy.
But Ug seemed excessively depressed, given that we still had a good millenium or two before last call in the sports bar of our primitive existence. Male hominids don’t like to talk about their feelings, but I decided to ask him why he looked so down.
“Ug never have date,” he said as he poked himself in the eye with a stick to see if it hurt. Glad we got that step behind us on the march to civilization.
“You don’t need a date,” Nutz said sharply. “We haven’t even progressed beyond hunting and gathering yet. All you need is a woman.”
“What difference?” Ug asked.
I cleared my throat, a signal to Nutz that I wanted to handle what was a sensitive topic. “Ug, there are women–not all women–but some, who will mate with you in exchange for . . . things of value.”
“Glzzz,” Ug said, apparently confused. I didn’t know he was so sentimental. “What things?”
“Well, you know, clam shells, boar’s teeth–any medium of exchange recognized as a store of value.”
“What Ug do with stuff?”
“You give it to the woman,” Nutz said, “and she ‘balances your books.'”
Ug’s face clouded over as if there’d just be a volcanic eruption from his nose.
“That’s what’s called a double entendre,” I began. Since Ug had trouble with single entendres, I had some explaining to do. “What Nutz means is that the woman provides you with . . . professional services.”
Ug was unable to fathom the mystery, so Nutz and I decided to set him up. “You stay here,” Nutz said. “I’ll go get you a woman who’ll solve all your problems.”
Nutz went out of the cave onto the footpath that led down to the stream. There was a constant flow of women back and forth there, and soon he’d consummated the transaction that we hoped would lift Ug out of his emotional insolvency, returning with a striking female.
“Hi,” she said seductively as she entered the cave wearing a two-piece business loincloth, a floppy bow tie made from palm fronds, and a pair of primitive eyeglasses; I couldn’t tell if they were real or just an accessory to give her that chilly, professional look that drives some men wild.
“We’ll leave you two alone,” I said after we exchanged pleasantries, and I ushered Nutz out of the cave onto the green savannah where we were still competing with lions and tigers for a spot in the evolutionary playoffs.
“You think he’ll know what to do?” Nutz asked me. He’s a real horndog, so much so that you may have traces of his DNA in your chromosomes.
“Sure he will,” I said. “Have a little faith in early humanity, would you? Birds do it–bees do it. Even educated pterodactyls do it.”
Nutz seemed skeptical, but I trusted Ug’s animal instincts. “He’ll be fine,” I said. “Just give him time.”
We couldn’t help but hear the screams that issued from the mouth of the cave, a reassuring sign, we thought. After things had quieted down a bit Ug emerged with his hourly-rate paramour, beaming like a boy who’s discovered auto-eroticism.
“So?” I said with a leer as the woman walked off. “How was it?”
“Ug feel much better,” he said with a smile.
I felt relieved, but still a bit sad. It’s one thing to help a guy satisfy a basic male need, and something quite different to shatter his illusions about romantic love. “Of course, it’s not as good as the real thing,” I said hesitantly.
“Real thing?” Ug asked, puzzled.
“Yes,” I began. “There’s the quick and dirty liaison you’ve just experienced . . .”
“And then there’s the ultimate,” Nutz said with a voice that suggested a realm of pleasure Ug had never dreamed of.
“You mean . . . something better?” Ug asked in amazement.
“Yes,” Nutz said dreamily. “In addition to compilation and review-level engagements, there’s a full audit–conducted in accordance with generally-accepted accounting principles used consistently throughout the period involved.”