The Thing Speaks for Whatever

Were unicorns real? Who cares? They’re gone now. Let’s move on.

In Hengeful, Polls Hypos and Other Imaginings, Themeday Thursday, This verges on the ridiculous on October 6, 2011 at 4:02 pm

For centuries, people have been debating the existence of the unicorn. How long can we obsess over the same boring old questions? Did they exist, didn’t they, is it Noah’s fault they’re gone, where can we find a virgin for our upcoming unicorn hunt, etc.? Don’t y’all think it’s time to move on? Especially since we’ve got a whole host of animals waiting patiently for the day that Peter Sagel interviews Bill Clinton about them on NPR’s wildly popular Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me. (Carl Kasell can’t even get a latte without every tween within a five-mile radius bursting into tears of adoration; one young fan even asked him to bite her at a promotional event last month.) (My bad, that was Robert Pattinson. I get them mixed up sometimes.)

Credit: Michaela Murphy
I have this poster above my bed.

Speaking of mixing up famous entities, some horned animals have gotten the short end of the almost-unicorn stick throughout history. Countless narwhals have given their lives so that the unicorn’s mystique can endure: Denmark’s royal throne was made of narwhal tusks masquerading as unicorn horns; ceremonial cups made from narwhal’s tusks were passed off as unicorn-horn poison-neutralizers; powdered narwhal tusks were labeled unicorn horn powder and sold for medicinal purposes all over Europe. And it’s not just the narwhals that have suffered. Poor rhinos got a crushing blow to their self-esteem after Marco Polo held them to unicorn standards and declared:

“They spend their time by preference wallowing in mud and slime. They are very ugly brutes to look at. They are not at all such as we describe them when we relate that they let themselves be captured by virgins.”

Ooooo, BURN. Thanks to Marco, modern rhinos spend millions on beauty products every year. There’s a reason it’s called “rhinoplasty,” folks.

RIE thinks these animals have waited in the wings long enough. In the spirit of progress, we’ve decided to hold a pageant to choose the next unicorn. Here are the finalists:

FINALIST #1: THE NARWHAL

Pageant question: "What are your life goals?" Narwhal answer: "Have you seen the deadly weapon growing out of my head?"

The case for:

The case against:

FINALIST #2: THE RHINO

Pageant question: “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?” Rhino answer: “What is an ‘amerikan’? Do you think my new wrinkle cream is working?”

The case for:

The case against:

FINALIST #3: MY CAT, ZOEY CAT BADER GINSBURG

Pageant question: “If you were offered a deal in which Democrats agreed to cut spending by $10 for every $1 in tax increases, would you take it?” Zoey Cat Bader Ginsburg answer: “Did you accidentally switch your question cards with Megyn Kelly’s? Is that why Rick Santorum is explaining which is his favorite body part and why? I’m going to go puke on your carpet now.”

The case for:

  • Until the 19th century, belief in Zoey Cat Bader Ginsgurg was widespread among historians, alchemists, writers, poets, naturalists, physicians, and theologians. The same was true of unicorns.
  • Like a unicorn, Zoey Cat Bader Ginsburg can only be captured by a virgin.
  • Zoey Cat Bader Ginsburg has perfected the side-eye. This is important if your job is to make people feel morally deficient, which is the unicorn’s favorite thing to do.
  • Zoey Cat Bader Ginsburg tells great jokes.

The case against:

  • This animal knows where I sleep. There is no case against.

THE WINNER: Is this even a question? (Yes, that was a question, wasn’t it? And that. Damn it.) Zoey Cat Bader Ginsburg is our new unicorn!

To those of you grumbling that this pageant was fixed, I hope this painting of the extinct auroch will distract you. Some people maintain that aurochs got this whole “unicorn” ball rolling.

If you’re interested in things creepy scientists do, you should know that Polish geneticists want to bring aurochs back to life. Seriously. It’ll be just like Jurassic Park, except bovine-ier.

A big thanks from RIE to all our participants! We’re glad that we can finally put this unicorn business to rest.

For more commentary on animals and the places that animals live, see herdinglizards. It’s one of many blogs in the over-saturated wildlife science pop culture travel-ish legal genre.

~~~

Brought to you by UNICORN Themeday Thursday, and contributions from Viewers Like You. (Animation from the twisted mind of Bez.)

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  1. I have strong anecdotal evidence that Zoey Cat Bader Ginsburg can most definitely be captured by non-virgins.

  2. […] The short version: I wrote a post about unicorns, narwhals, rhinos, and my cat Zoey Cat Bader Ginsburg on the blog Res Ipsa Etc.! Check it out.  […]

  3. When asked by a current UMich Law student if my organization (the International LGBTQ Youth and Student Organisation) works with young LGBTQ Roma, I replied ‘We would, but how? We would also ride unicorns if we could.’

    Young LGBTQ Roma people as the new unicorn

    The case for:
    – If they exist, they are married off early, therefore hidden from sight (see Channel 4’s ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’)
    – They can fly (with the help of the French government)
    – I hear that they are quite horny

    The case against:
    – Once captured, is a young LGBTQ Roma person still Roma/traveler/gypsy? (It’s kind of like the unicorn who sees the horses drinking bloody marys and talking about who hooked up at Eastern Bloc/The Cock/Splash the night before and cutting off his horn to join them- and wearing stripes if zebra print is back)

  4. Nah, Unicorns still exist. I’ve got pictures to prove it. Plus I dance with a Unibow on the regular.

Whatever, yo.

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