Wednesday, May 31, 2017


(Ed. note: Rudyard Kipling submitted these "Just Not So Stories" to his editor in 1895. They were rejected.  Following his editor's suggestion, he reworked them into a book called "Just So Stories" which was finally published in 1902.  We were fortunate enough to find these drafts among his papers.)

(Disclaimer: OK, I admit it; These are from my book, "Fishducky's Fables" and I've run some of these before, but, hey, I'm 82.  You can't expect me to run a new post five times a week.  At least I've reworked them and the cartoons are all new!!)

You all know, of course, why some animals are the way they are.   For instance, the giraffe’s neck is as long as it is because he was so snooty that he wouldn’t talk to or even look at the other animals and he kept stretching his neck farther and farther until it just stayed that way.  But did you know about the elephant and his trunk?  No?  That’s all right, I’m going to tell you.

One African elephant, Elroy, who lived in the jungle was very prone to allergies.  He was allergic to many of the local plants.  Neither handkerchiefs nor Kleenex had been invented yet so people and animals used to wipe their noses with their shirts or arms after they sneezed.  Elephants are so big, you can just imagine the mess he made.  They used to have snouts, like pigs.

One day Elroy was walking through the jungle and sneezing every few minutes.  He would eat some grass and sneeze.  He would say hello to another animal and sneeze.  He would drink some water and sneeze.  His fairy godmother (yes, animals have fairy godmothers, too!) appeared before him and he sneezed on her, too.  She got upset at first, but he apologized profusely and she realized he couldn’t help it.

She moved behind him, where she would be safer, and told him that she would grant him one wish because he had just stepped on a snake and she was deathly afraid of snakes.  Elroy said, "I didn’t do it 'AH-CHOO' on purpose.  I'm just clumsy and step on a lot of animals without 'AH-CHOO' even knowing it."  She said that was okay, that made one less snake anyway, and that he could still have a wish.  She told him to think carefully before he made his request, because one wish was all union rules permitted.

Elroy thought and thought and finally said, “I’m so tired of 'AH-CHOO' sneezing all over myself.  I really wish you could 'AH-CHOO' do something about my 'AH-CHOO' allergies.”  She told him to give her a few minutes to think of something.  After due consideration, she said, “I‘m sorry, Elroy, but I can’t get rid of your allergies because antihistamines won't be discovered for a few hundred years and then the makers of Benadryl and Claritin would probably sue me retroactively.  Would you settle for a really long, flexible nose so you could at least aim your sneezes up in the air or over your shoulder?”

He elephant thought about it and decided that was better than nothing so he accepted her offer.  After using his new nose it for a while, Elroy decided that it was much better than the old one, allergies or no allergies.  At least he could aim his sneezes.  He could get grass off the jungle floor with it and pluck delicious leaves from the trees.  He could get a drink without sticking his face in the water and even take a shower.  He could lift things and carry them around.  When he got a girlfriend, he could wrap his nose around her shoulders.  Elroy’s new nose could do so many things that all the elephants who saw it wanted one just like it.  

Their fairy godmothers decided that it would be a lot less work if elephants were born that way rather than to change them individually, so they got together and made it happen.  There’s not an elephant I’ve talked to, either African or Asian, that would prefer that old style nose.