How the Whinoceros Got Another “R”
In the middle of a particularly whiny morning…
F: Let’s do W.
D: Okay, go!
D (seeing the neighbor walking her Weimaraner out the window): Good one, Fisher!
D: Nice, Cory!
F: Um, Daddy, can you give us a hint?
D: What!? A hint? Already?
D: Um, Cory, that starts with an “r.”
D: But, you do know that rhinoceroses used to start with a “w”…
F: What did you say, Daddy?
D: Rhinoceroses used to be called whinoceroses. Yah, they didn’t always have their horns on their noses like that.
Fisher and Cory stare at Daddy.
D: Whinoceroses used to be big grey animals that tromped around the jungle whining all the time, really loud, through their horns. They’d go like this…(tromping)…”But, I don’t wanna brush my…waa waa waa”…(more tromping)…”And, Daddy, I don’t wanna clean my…waa waa waa…”
Cory lifts a hand up to hide a smile.
D: The whinoceroses’ noses used to be nice and flat. They used to carry around these big grey horns, though. They just tromped around all day and night, using those horns to make all their whining super loud…(tromping)…”But, Daddy, Fisher told me that I’m a waa, waa, waa” and “Daddy! Cory isn’t sharing the waa, waa, waa with me”…!
F: Did you er, uh, eh hear them, Daddy?
D: Oh, that was a long time ago. See, one day, a nice witch was traveling near where all the whinoceroses were doing their constant, non-stop, never-ending, loud-as-can-be whining, and she stopped and had to cover her ears. She asked the first one who came close by if he could please stop caterwauling that like.
F: What is catwalling?
D: In this story, it’s another word for “whining.”
F: Well, why didn’t that witch just say “whining”? That’s silly.
Cory is still hiding her smile.
D: Because variety is the spice of life. Well, that first whinoceros just whined back at that good little witch, “But, I don’t want to stop caterwauling about…waa, waa, waa.” He tromped away. But, the good little witch could still hear him. She could hear all of them, they were whining so much and so loudly. Before long, another whinoceros came along, whining as well. She asked her, “Why do you have to whine through your horn all day? It just blasts your self-pity around so everyone can hear it.” In response, that second whinoceros whined, through her horn, really loudly, “But, I don’t want to just whine to myself. I want to whine so that waa, waa, waa…”
They are rapt in attention.
D: Well, the good little witch wasn’t a full-grown witch yet. She was just learning. But, all the whinoceroses whining was breaking her concentration. So, she decided to try a reversal spell on the horns of those whinoceroses. You know, a spell that would make the sounds coming out of them softer, rather than louder. She stood at the edge of the whinoceroses’ land, she raised her hand, she cast her spell, and BAM! Every single horn flew away from each whinoceros, spun around in the air, and landed with the fat part of the horn right back on the whinoceros’s nose! And, do you know what?
F: What, Daddy?
D: It just stuck there! Those horns fixed themselves forever to those whinoceroses’ noses! Now, each whinoceros had a horn planted backwards, right there on its nose! Well, you can imagine that it’s hard to whine through a horn that’s plastered backwards on your nose, and without being able to whine so that everyone could hear them, do you know what those whinoceroses decided to do?
C: What, Daddy?
D: Stop whining! They just stopped. And, not only did that good little witch smile, even though her spell hadn’t worked exactly as she intended, so did everyone else who lived within earshot. They were so happy not to hear all that whining all day long.
Fisher and Cory stare.
D: And to this day, no one calls a rhinoceros a “whinoceros.” Because a rhinoceros barely says anything anymore. It’s an animal of few sounds. And, it certainly never ever whines. Thank goodness.
A couple breakfasts later, Fisher plays with a dinosaur figurine.
D: What’s that?
C (hesitantly, trying to remember): A whinosaurus?
F: No, Cory, no. It’s a whinoceros.
D (smiling and pointing and having randomly Googled “whinoceros”): Are you sure it isn’t a cryceratops? (Pause.) Have I ever told you that the triceratops used to be called the cryceratops?
F: No, but Daddy?
F: Can this just be a whinoceros, Daddy?
D (smiling): Sure, Fisher, sure.
Better to quit while ahead.