Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Bear Named What

A Bear Named What

Once upon a time there was a princess who lived in a faraway land, a cold land, called Eagan. Her name was Princess Eryn. Princess Eryn lived in a big castle made out of wooden blocks, each block having six sides, and each side having a colorful number or letter. While the walls of her castle were great for spelling out messages like, “I SEE YOU” and “I AM 4 TODAY” or even “DID YOU FART”, they did very little to keep her warm and cozy on cold, Eagan nights.

She guessed that perhaps she could burn the blocks to stay warm, after all, there was a fireplace. But then she would have no where to live.

So, day in and day out Princess Eryn sat in her cold, wooden, block castle and rearranged the letters. “IS IT WARMER OVER THERE” one day, and “I AM COLD” the next and “BRRRR” on yet another day, although that time she ran out of enough Rs to show just how cold she was. She was at least eight Rs cold, certainly not just four.

Just when it seemed like she would have to start burning blocks, there came a knock at the front door. Princess Eryn lifted her head off the wood block she used as a pillow, crawled out from under the wood block she used as a blanket, and went to open the wood block that was her front door.

“Who’s there?” asked Princess Eryn.

“A big green and white bear,” was the reply.

“A big green and white bear who?”

“Um…just that, no more,” said the voice.

Princess Eryn threw open the block door, and sitting there was a large, green and white bear, just as he had said. “No, no…” chastised Princess Eryn, “Your joke will never do.”

“Sorry,” said the bear.

“Here,” Princess Eryn said, her teeth chattering a little in the cold breeze. “You go inside, shut the door, and I will knock.”

The bear did as he was told, and when Princess Eryn knocked, he opened the door.

“No!” she exclaimed. “You have to say, ‘Who’s there?’”

“But I knew it was you,” said the bear.

”I could have run away.”

“But you live here.”

“Maybe there was a fire!”

“There’s a fire!?” exclaimed the bear, looking around, then running past the princess and out of the castle.

“No. There could have been a fire. And I could have run away. So it could have been someone else at the door.”

“Why would you run away from an imaginary fire?” asked the bear. “Can’t you just put it out with imaginary water? Or call the imaginary fire department?”

“Go inside,” order Princess Eryn through gritted teeth, which at least kept them from chattering. “And when you hear me knock, say ‘Who’s there?’”

“You do understand,” said the bear, “that to hear you knock implies that I know it is you, and puts us right back where we were.”

“Fine. Go inside, and when you hear a stranger knock, say, ‘Who’s there?’”

“How will I know it’s a stranger and not you?”

“You won’t. You will have to ask.”


“Who’s there?”


“Cargo? What?”

“No it doesn’t. A car goes beep beep!” The green and white bear grinned a goofy grin and looked at the block castle. “Would you happen to have a spot of hot chocolate in there?”

Princess Eryn, still a little irritated about having the knock knock joke turned on her glowered at the bear and said, “If there were hot chocolate in there do you think I would be standing out here chattering my teeth?”

“Probably not,” replied the bear. “But one can never tell.”

“Come in anyway,” said Princess Eryn. “I’m lonely, and maybe you’ll settle for a glass of iced tea.”

The big green and white bear came in and sat down on a wood block bench while Princess Eryn took some iced tea out from behind the wood block refrigerator.

“I noticed your rather unique home while I was visiting your neighbors,” said the bear. “I was hoping perhaps you could help me.”

“How’s that?” asked the princess, handing the bear a glass of iced tea that actually had ice on top.

The bear looked at it dubiously. “I’ve lost something important, and I could really use it back.”

“My blocks are not for sale. Not at any price!”

“I don’t want to buy your blocks,” replied the bear. “I was rather hoping you might help me by using your blocks to find my name.”

“You’ve lost your name?”

“I have.”

“Are you sure?”


“It’s not something like ‘Big Green and White Knock Knock Smarty Pants Bear’, is it?”

“It could be, I guess. But I’ve always been of the opinion that I’ll recognize it if I see it, and that doesn’t seem right.”

“Seems right to me. But if you say it doesn’t suit you, you probably know best. So how can my blocks be of use?”

“Well, I thought if you spelled my name, I might recognize it.”

“Wouldn’t I have to know your name to spell it?” asked the princess.

”A bit of a conundrum,” sighed the bear.

“Is it Frank?” asked the princess, spelling out FRANK with some wood blocks.

“No, that’s not it,” replied the bear.

“Bill?” she pushed BILL into place.

“Not Bill,” replied the bear.

“Aloysius?” asked Princess Eryn, mentally kicking herself for picking such as a big name as she pushed ALOYSIUS into place.

“Not that either,” the bear looked relieved.

“Winnie?” she flipped and pulled until WINNIE was showing.

“Sounds familiar….but no.”

“This could take all day,” said the princess, slouching against a block and breathing a bit heavily. “And I don’t have the muscles to push blocks all day. Hey! Maybe your name is DID YOU FART,” she pointed at the side of the castle. “That would sure save us some time and effort.”

“I saw that when I was at your neighbors’ house,” said the bear. “It’s definitely not DID YOU FART. When I said ‘Yes’ they packed me up and shipped me over here.”

“Hmmm….” Pondered the princess, moving a few feet further from the bear. “Perhaps we have to break the task down into its constituent parts.”

The bear looked confused. “You mean, like use all the same letters. As in AAAAAA?”

“No, that’s ‘consistent’ parts.”

“Then you mean when each block is signed by a famous person and guarantees me life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”

“No, those would be ‘constitution’ parts.”

“When none of them are in the water?”

“Those would be ‘continental’ parts. Constituent parts are just like the blocks. They’re the smallest parts you can identify in something.”

“You mean the font?” asked the bear.


“The kerning?”

“No! The letters!”

“Oh, right. Like letters are the smallest parts of a word.” affirmed the bear.


“Syllables are small,” opined the bear.

“Not as small as letters,” lectured the princess. “And they don’t fit on wood blocks.”

“Those are very large blocks…”

“Do you want to find your name?” threatened Princess Eryn. The big green and white bear quieted down. Princess Eryn pushed the A from ALOYSIUS out to a spot of its own. “Look familiar?”


She pushed it away and replaced it with the B from BRRRR. “How about that?”

“That does tickle the memory bone,” said the bear. “But maybe it’s because bear starts with a B.”

“Could B,” said the Princess. The bear rolled his eyes. “But for right now, let’s go with it.” She pushed the A back over next to the B to spell BA.”

“Ba….” Mouthed the bear. “Good name for a sheep. But not for a bear.”

“Well, BB is right out,” said the princess.

“Why?” asked the bear.

“You just don’t see that,” she said. “Not unless your parents were really mean. Some letters just don’t show up together too often, especially at the beginning or end of a name.”

“What about Dafydd?”

“Are you from Wales?”

“I think I’d remember that.”

“Then we’ll ignore that one. I doubt we’d see BC or BD either.” She pushed over the E from WINNIE. “Maybe BE-N?”

“No,” said the bear, “Not BE.”

“And not BF, BG, or BH…” she rolled over a block so that the I from DID YOU FART was available. “Could your name be Bill? Or Binky?”

“No,” said the bear. “Not BI.”

The princess sighed. “Nor BJ, BK, BL…wait.” She pushed over the L from COLD. “Blake? Blair?”

“Nope,” said the bear. “Not Blake. Not Blair. No BL.”

The princess stretched and cracked her back. “Not BM or BN…” She grabbed the O from DID YOU FART. “BO…Bonkers!”

“Maybe I am, but it’s not my name. That O looks really nice, though.”

“Excellent!” Princess Eryn stared at the letters and pushed over the A again. “BOA?”

The bear thought long and hard about BOA. He hissed a little, just to try it on for size, then dismissed it. “No. I would have to slither a lot if my name was Boa. I really don’t like to slither. It gets the white fur all dingy.”

The princess found another B and pushed it over. “Hey!” she exclaimed. “Say ‘knock knock’.”

“Knock knock,” said the big green and white bear.

“Who’s there?” asked the princess, presenting the letters on the three wood blocks with a big flourish.


The princess flourished much faster.

“Oh, Bob! Yes, Bob! Bob’s here!” exclaimed the bear, jumping up and down. “Bob’s here!”

Once she knew his name, and the bear was no longer a stranger, or a big green and white smarty pants bear – at least not often – Bob and the Princess Eryn became the best of friends. Bob was pleased to have his name and a place to live where your friends didn’t turn you out on your ear just for a little farting. The princess was happy to have a friend, and a big furry one at that, with lots of excess warmth. He was a much better blanket and pillow than any wood block had ever been. And when Bob and the Princess Eryn found you could get a cup of hot chocolate at the local coffee shop, to go no less, they lived as happily ever after as a princess and a big green and white bear named Bob in a wood block castle ever could.

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