Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Metric Inchworm

Why are puns so funny? If we created language solely for the purpose of making puns, I would be totally okay with it. In fact, I think that's a better reason for developing speaking and writing than for some lowly communication purposes. Especially because communication so often adopts the mis- prefix, resulting in troubles beyond imagination. Here is that story.

            This is the story of the inchworm who wasn’t.
            Wasn’t what?  An inch.  For this inchworm was only a centimeter in length.
            When his fellow inchworms measured their heights, our little friend was only thirty-nine hundredths of their size.  The runt of the lot, the small one of the brood, but still large of heart.
            Nevertheless, he was shunned from the group of inchworms, for they practically spoke a different language.  On a hot, humid day, the inchworms would exclaim, “Oh my, it must be nearly ninety degrees outside!”  But the centimeter worm confusedly replied, “I insist it’s only thirty-two.”
            The other moth juveniles measured the distance from leaf to leaf in twelves, threes, and five thousand two hundred eighties.  On the other side of the plant the not-an-inch inchworm counted distances only in standard, plain, boring tens.  When they inched along to traverse leaves, the centimeter-long insect just didn’t know what to do.
            If the inchworms were working out, lifting weights in the insect gym, the larger larvae would bench press one hundred twenty pounds.  But the miniscule insect could only lift fifty-four and forty-three hundredths.
            The centimeter-long inchworm was morose, dejected by his seemingly lacking numbers.  That is, until one day, when a wise, ancient moth fluttered up to him as the young one sat alone on a twig.
            “What seems to be the matter?”
            “I’m the only inchworm who isn’t even an inch.  All the other inchworms laugh at me because we don’t count the same way.”
“Ho ho ho,” chuckled the gregarious moth.  “I see what your problem is.”
“You do?”
“Of course.  When they talk in Fahrenheit, you counter in Celsius.  When they walk in feet, you translate it to meters.  When they boast of high pounds, you speak of kilograms.”
“But what does that all mean?”
“You’ve been using the same numbers as your friends the whole time.  You just have a different name for your measurements.”
“It still doesn’t change the fact that I’m small.”
“I counter that it’s all relative.  When everyone else is almost an inch long, you should be proud that you’re a full centimeter.”
With this heartening advice and new perspective, the smaller inchworm proudly centimetered off to join the others.  He wore a wide grin on his face, for he now knew who he was.
He was a metric inchworm.

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