One day, Hello and Pencil met a Flat Rabbit. They had never met a Flat Rabbit before, so at first, they thought it was an oven glove.
“Hmm, an oven glove,” said Pencil taking a closer look.
“I’M NOT AN OVEN GLOVE, YOU NINCOMPOOP!” shouted the Flat Rabbit. “I’M A FLAT RABBIT!!!”
Pencil, not used being shouted at, let alone being called a nincompoop (that was more Hello’s department), was rather taken aback.
“Err…ahh…I’m sorry if I offended you…” he stammered. “It’s…um…just that…”
“It’s just that…It’s just that,” taunted the Flat Rabbit. “It just that you thought I was an oven glove…just like every other moron in this town! Well I’m not an oven glove…I’m a Flat Rabbit!!!”
“Hello Flat Rabbit,” said Hello cheerily, completely oblivious to the tone of the conversation. “Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Tea?” Scoffed the Flat Rabbit. “Only idiots drink tea. Do I look like an idiot to you?
Before Hello and Pencil had a chance to reply, the Flat Rabbit let out a huff, rolled his eyes and said, “Alright…I may as well…I haven’t got anything better to do.”
With that the three of them went inside for a cup of tea.
For the first time in his life, Pencil was completely lost for words. He had never met anyone so rude. As he sat there sipping his tea, his mind was preoccupied with thoughts of a suitable comeback to being called an nincompoop. He was just about to think of a good one when Hello dropped a clanger.
“Flat Rabbit,” enquired Hello in a serious voice. “Why are you so grumpy?”
Pencil let out a gasp, sure the Flat Rabbit would hit the roof at such an impertinent question. Instead, to everyone’s surprise, including his own, the Flat Rabbit burst into tears.
“O Flat Rabbit.” said Hello, gently patting his new friend. “Why are you crying?”
“I’m crying,” said the flat Rabbit between sobs. “Because I don’t like being grumpy. I haven’t always been this way you know, I used to be a jolly sort of fellow.”
“Well, you sure aren’t jolly now,” said Hello matter-of-factly. “Whatever happened?”
“The big disappointment of 1998, that’s what happened,” replied the Flat Rabbit. “You see, I was set be crowned winner of the Fat Rabbit Flower Arranging Competition, instead, I was robbed of my title and my dignity.”
Flower Arranging!?? thought Pencil, his eye’s widening. He couldn’t imagine this crotchety old rabbit arranging a pile of bricks let alone a bunch of flowers. His interest tweaked, he forgot all about the nincompoop comment and listened intently as the Flat Rabbit continued.
“Since I was a whippersnapper, Flower Arranging was the only thing I wanted to do. I used to practice every day with a bunch of wooden flowers my Grandpappy made me. I’d arrange them in endless patterns, sometimes using cutlery in place of foliage.
My Mammy said it was a stupid dream…”who’s ever heard of a Flat Rabbit arranging flowers…them sort of things is only for Fat Rabbits.” I would cry when she said that and my Grandpappy would put me on his knee, give me a little jiggle and say…”Grandsonny, you pay no mind to what your Mammy says. Them Fat Rabbits ain’ts the only ones with talent. You practice every day and whens you is big, you can shows everyone that a Flatty is just as good as a Fatty.”
“So that’s what I did. I practised every day and got real good. My dream was to enter the biggest, toughest completion in Flower Arranging, held by the Fat Rabbit Botanical Society. First I wrote to the organisers asking if they would consider letting a Flat Rabbit try out. They wrote back and saying, “NO WAY! Not on your nally!!! There has never been a Flat Rabbit Flower Arranger in the past, so there won’t be one in the future!” I became depressed after I received the letter, and my dahlias wilted in sympathy. Then I remembered what my Grandpappy said on his death bed. “Grandsonny, if you can’t get what you want by fair means, you can always try foul.”
“So that’s what I did. I filled out the form and in the box marked What kind of Rabbit are you? I ticked Fat. Then I stuffed myself with a sock and went along to the competition.
I sailed through the first 2 heats. Everyone loved my arrangements because they were so innovative. The semi-finals were harder and the final harder still. I was pitted against a 3 time champion from a prestigious Fat Rabbit Flower Arranging family that went back 6 generations. But I stole the show with what I called my Daisy and Tulip Flambé. The crowd cheered when I was announced the winner and I cried with joy. Then the unthinkable happened. As I made my way across the stage to receive my prize, the sock I stuffed inside me came loose and trailed along behind me, leaving me as flat as a pancake.
There was a deathly silence, and then a booming voice in the audience shouted – “He’s not a Fat Rabbit! He’s a Flat Rabbit…he’s an imposter!!!” With that, the crowd went wild. I was booed off stage and was thrown into the back alley by two Fat Rabbit bouncers. I was devastated and my dream was in tatters. I lay in bed for 3 months, refusing to see anyone. When I surfaced, I threw away all my flowers, including the wooden ones my Grandpappy made me. I have been bad-tempered ever since.”
“Wow, that sure is a good story,” said Hello in wonder.
“Good?” snapped the Flat Rabbit. “What’s so bleed’n good about it?”
“Well,” said Hello trying to think – something he wasn’t very good at. “Well, um…err…”
“Well…hurry up,” grumbled the Flat Rabbit. “I haven’t got all day.”
“Err…um,” began Hello again. “I think it’s a good story…because…um…you were the best Flower Arranger…just like you wanted to be.”
“What are you talking about you birdbrain,” said the Flat Rabbit impatiently. “Didn’t you listen to the story? I lost…I was booed off stage…I was thrown out into the alley like a piece of garbage…there’s nothing good about that!”
“You know,” said Pencil thoughtfully. “Hello might just have a point. You only lost because you didn’t meet the discriminatory criteria of the completion, not because of your ability to arrange flowers. When judged on the latter, you won; by your own account it was a triumph. So, what your story shows is, in 1998 you were in fact the best Flower Arranger. The only thing you weren’t, was fat – and, if the studies which show a causal link between fatness and diabetes, heart disease and early death are to be believed, that’s probably a good thing.”
As the Flat Rabbit let Pencil’s words sink in, slowly but surely a light went on in his head. All these years he had felt like a failure. Every day he had cursed himself for losing the competition and for being born flat instead of fat. But the truth was he had won the competition. If only for a moment, he was the best Flower Arranger. With that, the Flat Rabbit let out a huge sigh as the weight of all those years of misery lifted from his shoulders.
“Well,” said The Flat Rabbit, a little giddy from his moment of clarity. “I can’t sit around all day drinking your disgusting tea! I’ve got better things to do!!!”
With that, he stormed out, slamming the door behind him.
…though not before Pencil yelled after him, “according to my Collins 5th ed. Pocket Dictionary – which I always carry with me, as you never known when a chance to play Scrabble might present itself – Nincompoop is, and I quote: from the Latin, non-compos mentis – lit. not having control of one’s mind. Well I have control of my mind thank you very much…SO THERE…I AM, BY DEFINITION, NOT A NINCOMPOOP!!!
Unfortunately, Pencil’s comeback, brilliant though it was, had no effect; for, the Flat Rabbit was out the door, through the gate and halfway up the road by the time Pencil got to the word Scrabble.