Zarf and Bipple
Zachary was four and a half years old. He was, as he was fond of telling his daddy, "a bigger boy now", which meant that he thought he was big enough to be quite independent, thank you. Except when he had a bad dream, of course, or if he watched a scary movie. At those times, it was quite all right for Mummy or Daddy to be near at hand, or even to hold him on their laps.
Zachary was quite proud of the fact that he could do so many things for himself. He dressed himself, brushed his teeth all by himself, and sometimes even cleaned up his room. He also helped Mummy set the table, and helped Daddy take out the garbage. He was, indeed, a "bigger" boy.
Today, a quiet, sleepy Saturday afternoon in August in the village where Zachary lived with his parents, he stood motionless in the driveway beside their home, and looked intently towards the garage. Zarf and Bipple, the two pigeons that had made themselves at home in the rafters, sunned themselves on the roof.
What a silly Daddy, Zachary though to himself. Zarf and Bipple had been named by Daddy, and Zachary thought the names to be quite funny. He could never talk about the pigeons to his friends at Playschool without breaking into reams of laughter. When he asked his Daddy why the pigeons had been named as they were, his Daddy never failed to point out that the names were even funnier if spoken by someone with a fondness for spoonerism. That meant, as far as Zachary could understand, that if two words were spoken, the beginning sounds of each would be switched. Zachary didn't understand exactly what that meant, usually being much too busy being a little boy to sit down and think very much about anything.
Today, it was too hot to move. All of his friends were indoors or away at the beach, Daddy was snoozing in his hammock under a tree, and Mummy was in the kitchen reading a magazine. Since there was really nothing exciting to do, Zachary sat down on the grass beside the driveway, and daydreamed. He was a precocious little boy, knew all his letters, and while he couldn't actually read, knew enough to sound out words phonetically and break them into syllables. He tried to remember exactly what spoonerism was. Take two words ...., switch the beginning sounds of each ..., let's see: Zarf and Bipple would become ...Barf and Zipple. Suddenly, Zachary got it. The names still sounded funny, as Daddy had said they would, but one name became additionally funny because it had a totally new meaning. The quiet August afternoon suddenly erupted into gales of laughter as Zachary appreciated the humour of the pigeon's names, and of the new possibilities of spoonerism.
Zachary stretched out on the grass and tried to think of other word pairs that might be funny if the first letters were switched. How about Mummy and Daddy? That would become Dummy and Maddy. That would be funny! Zachary was wise enough, even at four and a half years of age, to know that that particular spoonerism might be best unrepeated.
What other word pairs would be funny spoonerized? My house would become hi mouse. That was funny too.
Well, that was enough thinking for today. There were so many things that Zachary wanted to learn but he wanted to save some of them for tomorrow. He closed his eyes and fell asleep.
(C) 1997 by S. J. Pedde