HaPPy NatIOnAL AbSurDiTY DaY!
A few months ago I ran out and bought the newest Dr. Seuss book, published 23 years after his death, with an introduction written by Charles D. Cohen. This is a collection of four ‘lost stories’ written by the ‘American Master of Logical Nonsense’ which had been previously published in magazines during the 1950’s and rediscovered more than 60 years later. In 1958, Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) called his work ‘logical preposterosity’. Later in an interview for the New York Times Book Review (1967), he called it ‘logical insanity’, the idea of pursuing a ludicrous situation with relentless logic.
So today, on National Absurdity Day, I share the absurdity of a national icon…
Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss (2014)
Horton and the Kwuggerbug: Horton meets a Kwuggerbug who knows the location of a Beezlenut tree which has the sweetest nuts in the jungle. The Kwuggerbug makes a deal with Horton to show him where the tree is and share half of the nuts found if only Horton would take him there because he is too small to make such a journey himself. Horton agrees. He carries the Kwuggerbug across a 30 mile lake filled with crocodiles and climbs a 9000 foot mountain, only to find that the tree is on the opposite ledge. After stretching and reaching his trunk across the space, Horton is left on one ledge while the Kwuggerbug slides down the trunk to the other ledge. Once there, the Kwuggerbug picks all the nuts off the tree and cracks them open. Then he shares the nuts by stuffing Horton’s trunk with the shells and keeps the meat for himself. Horton sneezes and blasts that Kquggerbug so far away that he didn’t come down until the 15th of June.
Marco Comes Late: Marco explains to his teacher, Miss Block, why he is so late for school. It seems that as Marco was walking down Mulberry Street a bird laid an egg on his ‘rithmetic book. While he was sitting to think about what to do, he heard two worms having a terrible fight about what Marco should do about the egg on his book. Soon two big cat joined the argument, one saying Marco should smash the egg and go on to school so that he wouldn’t be late and the other one saying that he should stay exactly where he was and not move for fear of breaking the egg. While he was wondering what he should do the egg hatched. The baby bird thanked Marco for waiting and the two birds flew off and Marco hurried on to school. Mrs. Block asked again if all of those things really happened, and Marco replied that not quite all were true, but he did see a worm.
How Officer Pat Saved the Whole Town: Officer Pat’s job is to watch out for trouble and keep the peace. That’s why when Office Pat saw a gnat buzzing around the old cat’s head, he predicted that the gnat might bite the cat which might yowl and wake up Mrs. McGown’s triplets. Their yowls might wake up the whole town. It might frighten the birds which might come screaming toward Mr. McGuire, the fish-market man, who might toss a big codfish up in the air and land on the nose of the horse carrying pumpkins up the road. The horse might start kicking which will bounce a pumpkin on Jake, who is repairing the fire hydrant. The water might gush out of the hydrant right on top of Mrs. Minella, who might knock Bobby Burke off his bike with her umbrella. Bobby might land on the House-Painter’s ladder which might cause him to spill a bucket a paint on Don Dill. The paint splashing might upset Mrs. Hubble, who might drop all her dishes startling her poor dog who might jump into the Horn-Tooter’s horn. The Horn-Tooter midst fall backwards and scare the driver of the Dynamite Truck, which might explode and blow the whole town into bits. Luckily for everyone, Good Officer Pat predicted such a catastrophe and swatted that gnat with his bat and kept him from biting old Thomas the cat. In so doing, Office Pat stopped all the trouble before it began and saved the whole town.
The Hoobub and the Grinch: The Grinch offers to sell the Hoobub a piece of green string saying that it’s better than the sun. It is strong all year long, while the sun loses strength in the fall and the winter. You can take the string out of your pocket any time day or night, while the sun only comes out during the day and there are even some cloudy days when the sun doesn’t come out at all. The sun can freckle your face, make your skin rough, and broil you like fat, but the green string would never do that. The Hoobub agrees and buys the string for ninety-eight cents. And like Dr. Seuss says, “Grinches sell Hoobubs such things every day.”