I first came across this phrase when passing through Amsterdam one night when I was a more daring, adventurous young person. I vividly remember being stopped by a sickly-looking guy with small eyes on one of the many bridges. “You want [drugs], man?” he proffered. “Make you [screw] like tiger!”
Adamant about his product’s prowess, he re-iterated the message in a number of exciting ways. I remember liking his gold teeth for some reason, but had to repeatedly decline his kind request: Not only did I not have the spare cash required for the transaction, I wasn’t really in the mood to fornicate with strangers under the influence of illicit drugs, especially not in the ways of a tiger. Nah, I just wanted a quick stroll, a strong lager and a good sleep. Majestic sex whilst high would have to wait.
That said, I could understand his sales patter. Tigers are one of few creatures you could describe as handsome; they prowl about looking all stately and distinguished and give off a real, “I’ve got this” aura; they’re confident enough to majestically wander about solo and be their own boss; and they wear the bespoke fur coats of a successful 1970s pimp.
They’re cool cats with sharp claws, both literally and figuratively. So if you’re gonna screw like an animal, it surely makes sense to do it like a tiger, doesn’t it?
Well… no, not really. Common sense suggests that no matter how cool and steely-eyed their companion, the average human fornicator will actually want to enjoy the experience. Tigers, however, aren’t bothered about that. “The mating behavior of members of the cat family is a painful process for the female,” says Desmond Morris in his book, Animal Watching: A Field Guide to Animal Behaviour. “The male’s penis is barbed and its withdrawal hurts the female, who frequently twists round to attack the dismounting male. The pain is necessary for feline mating because it is this shock to the female’s system that induces her ovulation and permits fertilisation.”
No pain, no gain: Hardly a phrase that anyone (well, most people) associates with a night of passion.
Tigresses are different though. As Tigers-World.com confirms, they are happy to go the extra mile to get their thing on: “Once a tigress enters heat, it tries to communicate it to the males by emitting frequent and repetitive vocalizations that consist of roars, moans and other odorous excretions,” they say.
Once she’s flirtatiously dispensed all this sensual goodness — and, crucially, found a male who’s into it — things get a bit Friday night at Route 66. “When a receptive tigress and a tiger meet, they perform a courtship ritual by moving in circles and vocalizing,” they say. “Both growl, approach and separate in a process of mutual recognition and trust building. Finally, they stay together, and the female begins to lick, groom and caress the male with the snout and then wallow on the ground and lie face down, indicating that it is ready.”
But it doesn’t stop there: When the male tiger dismounts, the female jumps up to simultaneously dislodge him and be in a good position to “box” him, inflicting severe (if superficial) scratches. Apparently, they repeat this rather violent process a number of times per day for as many days as it takes to stimulate ovulation and guarantee fertilization of the egg.
So it would appear that tigers aren’t the hero shaggers my man in Amsterdam believed them to be. If I had bought some of his noxious powder that night and it had made me screw like a literal Panthera tigris, as he’d assured me it would, who knows where I’d be now? Either doing time in some violent Dutch prison or perhaps pondering the lives of my litter of Dutch children, which, tiger-style, I’d have refused to have anything to do with the moment after copulation.
I’ll continue to screw like a nonplussed, middle-aged human thanks — it’s much safer for everyone.