My favourite book when I was a kid was The King’s Stilts, by Dr. Seuss. It’s not the kind of book normally associated with Suess, as it’s prose as opposed to rhyme – although there are examples of his usual tongue-twisting style scattered throughout – and tells a more traditional, linear type of story. It’s also quite a bit longer than the average Seuss book, a fact that my mother told me drove her nuts every time I asked her to read it to me at bedtime. Which, for a while, was every night.
I’ve never once seen it in a bookstore. And I’ve looked a lot. Every time one of my friends has a baby, I give the newborn a copy of The King’s Stilts, and I’ve always had to special order it. At one point, so many friends were having babies, I was joking that I should be buying it in bulk.
It had come up in conversation so often that, when my friend Kerry was visiting, she asked to see my copy. After spending a minute flipping through its pages, she handed it back to me and asked me to read it to her. For all the times I’d read it, it had never once been out loud.
I cleared my throat and settled in to tell the tale of King Birtram, Eric the pageboy, and the sinister Lord Droon. The story takes place in Binn, a lowland kingdom which is protected from flooding by the interlacing roots of dike trees. Birds called nizzards like to eat the dike trees, and an army of Patrol Cats keep the nizzards at bay.
This quote comes from the book’s finale, when Patrol Cats fight off nizzards for the survival of the kingdom, and …
The fur flew fast but the feathers flew faster!
And I flubbed it.
Kerry mostly kept a straight face while I untied my lips. But then I flubbed the line a second time, and the giggles started in earnest. I tried to continue a few more times, but it was useless. I never got further than a couple of words, and eventually we were both laughing so hard we were crying, and I couldn’t get a single syllable out without setting us off again.
This sort of thing isn’t a one-off for Kerry and I. We’ve been giggling together since we were teenagers. In fact, it’s probably our best-known feature among friends and family. (The first time my mother and Ron met, Kerry phoned and got me laughing so hard I fell to my knees. As I knelt there, unable to speak, Ron looked at my mother and said, “I take it that’s Kerry,” to which she rolled her eyes and replied, “Get used to it.”)
This, though … this is one of our absolute standout gigglefests of all time. So of course the line that triggered it all made it into the quote book. Even more than the book itself, the memory always brings a smile.
To see previous posts in my Quotes series, click here.