An aardvark and a rhinoceros happened upon each other one day in a place where the dry and sparse wilderness bumped up against a green and lush acre of tall grass that was spotted everywhere with strange mounds of dirt.
They took each other by surprise and were both horribly frightened by the very appearance of one another.
The aardvark was frightened because the rhinoceros was quite large and had a sword-like protrusion for a nose which looked rather dangerous and menacing.
The rhinoceros was frightened because he had never seen an aardvark before and was rather stricken by its appearance. After all, the aardvark hobbled around down low, was nearly bare of hair and was shockingly wrinkly while he was at that. The aardvark had a great whip of a tail that was nearly as long as the rest of him and the other end was equally grotesque. He had a great cone-shaped head that ended in a nose that… well… it simply kept going and had no end at all. And when he talked a long shiny tongue came out of the end of all of that, and just gave the rhino the willies.
The aardvark hid behind one of the dirt mounds and peered at the rhino from around the side.
The rhino kept his distance and yelled to the aardvark, “What are you, old boy?” (The rhino assumed aardvark was old, what with the wrinkly skin and all.)
“I’m an aardvark, don’t ya know?” he yelled out, “Do you mean me any harm with that great sword of yours?”
The rhino laughed and felt a little at ease but came no closer, “Certainly not; I don’t mean you any harm at all!”
So, the aardvark came out from behind the mound and they stood face-to-face, but at a distance of many yards.
“This doesn’t make for a very good sword anyway,” said the rhino, “besides … I mean … it’s good for show. It scares the other animals away, but it’s just made of…” The rhino had been mid-complaint but now looked sheepish, “…hair. It’s made of hair.” The rhino blushed. “Mostly, it’s just used for dating.”
“Wow!” exclaimed the aardvark. “I imagine that thing is quite effective at attracting the girls.” and then hung his head, “Mine is no good for dating at all.”
“No, I don’t imagine it would be,” agreed the rhino.
“But it does make one heck of a weapon!” the aardvark perked up as he refound his self esteem.
“Does it now?” The rhino was suspicious.
“Yes! I devour termites by the millions with it!”
“Is that so?” Now the rhino was impressed beyond concealment.
“That’s right!” Having impressed a mighty rhino, the aardvark pressed his case, “In fact, I can clean out one of these termite mountains in a matter of minutes!”
“Oh, is that what you use it for?” mused the rhino, “I don’t like termites. Can’t stand ‘em. I don’t like ‘em one bit.”
The aardvark was perplexed, “What do you have against termites? And, by the way, why are you standing way over there?”
The rhino hung his head and explained, “The grass grows full and green over there beside those termite hills. But anytime I go near there, they go up my legs, crawl all over me and give me the willies.” The rhino let out a great sigh and shook his head. “Have you ever had the willies?” (The aardvark scoffed that he had absolutely, most certainly, never ever had the willies in his life!) “You don’t want the willies!” the rhino concluded and closed his eyes.
“Perhaps we can work something out!” piped the aardvark. “Most animals of the wilderness are not much good for an aardvark at all. And you don’t know my business, but once I shove my funny-shaped gourd into one of those termite mounds, I’m quite exposed and vulnerable to anything with teeth that might come around. Why don’t you stand guard with your big sword-face while I clear out the termites, and then you can have at it at the grass?”
And just like that, a friendship was made.
The aardvark poked his noggen into the nearest termite mound, and in a matter of moments, had cleared the area of all the little pests. Then, the rhino went to work on all the green and lush grasses.
After that, the aardvark and the rhinoceros put their noses to work for each other.
The aardvark never had to worry about being snuck up on by things that had big teeth while he had his head stuck in a hole.
And the rhinoceros never again had to worry about the willies.