Once upon a time there was an owl named Who. This caused quite a lot of confusion as Who constantly heard voices calling her in the night. As you can imagine this wasn’t conducive to getting anything done. Papers would pile up (as Who was very wise and learned) and household chores would remain undone. This led to skimping on daytime sleeping and the inevitable, subsequent daytime-catchup attempts that failed to produce much in the way of results.
One day Who addressed her problem with What, a friendly vole with a dirty mind (obviously as a result of his nocturnal digging habits and not anything his mother was responsible for!). What’s suggestion was to pay closer attention and perhaps try harder. If she did this, maybe she would be able to solve the mystery and remove the worry of just who was spying on Who (or is that whom?).
So that very evening Who sat in her nest, which by the way was on the ground, as she was a burrowing owl, and much resembled a rabbit hole, and alertly stared out into the night. Just around 2 hours after sunset, she heard a faint “who” come from the forest to her left. Who scrambled out of her nest and screeched “What!” and then listened… there was no response. A few minutes later she heard again “who…” and she yelled “WHAT!” and again there was nothing but silence. Now Who was nobody’s fool and she knew she couldn’t very well just sit there all night waiting. So she carefully and silently made her way towards the forest, listening very hard. Just as she approached the first of the trees she heard, a little bit stronger, “Who… Who…”
Determined to put an end to this once and for all, she sucked in a huge gulp of air and blasted out “WHAT!!!!!!”. Well, several things happened all at once. The first thing that happened was a very dirty vole exploded out of the earth right under where she was sitting. It was very hard to tell in the confusion who was more startled as What yelled “what? What? WHAT?” spitting out tail feathers and fearfully attempting to glance in every direction at once. At the same time Who was screeching and hooting “WHAT? What? what…” with diminishing volume as she attempted to catch her breath again. As if this wasn’t enough, a large grey owl fell from the branches above, obviously very disconcerted and blurting out “What? Who! Who? What!” It only got worse when this new owl landed unceremoniously on top of poor What just as he finally escaped from Who.
So there they all sat, out of breath and quite confused until What crawled out from under yet another owl bottom and began sputtering “Why…”
“What?” replied the strange owl.
“Who …” began What.
“What?” replied Who.
“I said why…” began What again.
“What?” replied the strange owl, who, if you haven’t guessed by this time (like What apparently hadn’t), was named Why.
“Now wait just a minute!” yelled When (a brown bat from a neighbouring wood), “You can’t do this sketch without clearing permissions with United Artists who are the current rights holder!” To which the current trio unanimously replied “PUBLIC DOMAIN!” because, as we all know, it has been over 50 years since the death of Abbot and Costello. At this, When was just a bit miffed, and quickly moved on to another storyline where she felt her talents would be more appreciated.
Meanwhile Who, What and Why had settled into a comfortable little isosceles triangle to contemplate the preceding events. “So why…” began Who.
She was immediately cut off by What, who couldn’t take an more of it. “It doesn’t matter!” he insisted. “Obviously Why had a good reason, who knows what it was…”
“I do not!” retorted Who, “Why would you say…”
“I would not!” exclaimed Why sharply, “I never would!”
“Wait, wait, wait,” tried What one more time. “Let’s just stop this nonsense now. When are we…”
“I’m not answering!” When yelled from the distance.
“O for gawd’s sake” sighed What.
Meanwhile Why and Who were eyeing each other up and starting to do that weird dance that owls do when their grammar gets challenged. In one last attempt to bring piece to the woods and fields, What said “Has anyone ever tried to sentence diagram Abbot and Costello?”
Well as we all can guess, this pretty much put an end to the discussion and the two owls began to parse. To this day, every night, a few hours after sunset, if you listen very hard, you can hear quiet murmurings across the land as Who and Why, watched fondly and tolerantly by What, whisper “hoo, what, why, I don’t know is on third…”, trying in vain to successful diagram what was truly the ultimate in nonsense.
Or was it?
On occasion of encountering a recalcitrant grump