Once upon a time in a far away almost forgotten by humans, was a land with both jungle and blistering hot areas. It was during this hot rain forgotten season that Henrietta the Hippopotamus was born many years prior. All of the animals came out during the evening to visit the river bank and to cool themselves from the blistering heat. It had not rained in weeks and the land was parched from the penetrating rays of the sun. There was no morning dew to moisten the leaves of the plant life and flowers had long since given up their beauty. Everything was without water except the river that flowed through the barren land.
“It is time to party!” Henrietta bellowed forth. “Bring your picnic baskets and all your little ones meeting at the river bank just past the big fallen tree. I’ll bring the entertainment!” She echoed.
Eyes popped open out from under leaves, around bushes, from beneath huge rocks and peeped out of tall trees. It was not even dinner time and Henrietta was blasting announcements in every nook and cranny all along the baked area.
“What’s up with Henrietta?” Questioned a lion to his mate?”Who knows what that nut is up to now?” Snorted a sleepy parrot who was quiet annoyed with all the chatter.
“Well she is going all along the edge of the jungle telling everyone to come to the river for dinner and to bring a basket full of food.” Exclaimed a monkey who was swinging back and forth by his tail.
“Henrietta is a few pieces short of a complete puzzle. Everybody here knows that but further down a distance I’m not sure about the zebras and the giraffes. They may not be familiar with her wing-ding brain functions.” Piped a dusty turtle who had been trying to hide himself from the life- threatening heat.
“Better get a move on everybody. Time is flying by and if there is going to be food, count this lizard in!” A giant Iguana blurted out as he moved slowly out from under some leaves that had been providing shade for his blistered hide.
Henrietta was known for her gala affairs. She might not be the wisest of all the animals but she was a really cool hippo and she knew how to party down. She had been busy for days practicing her song and dance routine. Now she was putting together an outfit that would “WOW” all the animals. She put on her over-sized red sunglasses, plopped a huge floppy red hat on her head to match her red spiked shoes, and reached for her makeup. “Oh my goodness I forgot to try on my new dress I just finished making. I can’t let this occasion go by without wearing it.” She said reaching for the bright yellow piece of material. “The color is so cheerful and bright I just could not pass this piece of material up even though something is written on it. Surely no one will notice a few printed words. Once I brush my teeth and put on my lipstick I’ll be just about ready to go. I’ll just put all my goodies in my bag and be on my way to the river jamboree. Who knows how this day will end.” She said stepping over a snake as it slithered past.
Her eye lashes were long and painted as was her lips and rosy red cheeks. A few quick sprays of perfume and I’ll be ready to greet my audience. It will be a day to be remembered, she thought to herself.
“I’d better check to see if the monkeys have all the musical instruments in place.” She muttered as she grabbed up a straw mat she had braided from long pieces of tall grass.
From a distance there arose a cloud of dust into the sunny sky as hundreds of feet of all sizes scurried to the river bank. No one knew what was going to happen but neither did they want to be left out just in case it was a barrel of fun either.
Henrietta hurried to take her place in front of everyone. The monkey band began to play the drums loudly. Henrietta began to bump and grind her hips shaking her head to and fro as she strutted to the rhythm of the drums. She threw out her chest wiggling it as a sound came out of her mouth few animals had ever heard before. It was Henrietta’s love song and she bellowed it out with every fiber of her being. All eyes were fixed on Henrietta as she rumbaed and sambaed along with the music. Then it happened!!
When Henrietta turned her derriere towards the crowd and began shaking it the crowd went wild. All the animals fell out on the ground laughing hysterically. They were rolling in the dust laughing uncontrollably. Henrietta just kept on singing louder and louder. She had no idea why they were laughing. She had no idea that they were laughing at the words written on the back of her dress. In bold black letters were written: READY TO EAT MEAL!!!! FINGER LICKING GOOD!
“What shall we have drumsticks, thighs, or breast?” The family of lions asked.
“What about those of us who are vegetarians?” Snapped the tall Giraffe.
“What about those of us who prefer nuts and speaking of NUTS? Questioned the parrot who was overcome with sarcasm.
“I’d rather have bananas or coconuts.” Laughed the monkey rolling on the ground holding on to his sides.
“No one wants pure FAT in their diet.” He snickered covering up his eyes with one hand and his mouth with the other.
So it happened that day that Henrietta had made a very foolish faux pas. Because she could not read she had displayed herself to all the jungle animals as READY TO EAT FOOD!
Had she taken the time to learn to read the words written on the material rather than trying to entertain others with her foolish dancing, she might not have been in this deadly predicament.
And so it happened that all the animals had a really good time at the river jamboree. They all ate so much they could not hold another bite. All that was left made a delicious evening meal for the crocodiles. Not one morsel went to waste.
So before you get all dressed up and go out on the town, be sure you can read the words written upon your garments or your hat. You just never know when someone else might take those words very seriously!!!
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Question: Why did the animals all laugh at Henrietta when she was dancing?