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So this morning, I’m flipping through a copy of the New Yorker from several weeks back, and I stumble upon this cartoon. And next thing you know, I’ve got this song stuck in my head, part of which goes:

Oh, there were green alligators and long-necked geese
Hump-backed camels and chimpanzees
Cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you’re born
The loveliest of all was the unicorn

The upshot of the song is, like the cartoon, that the absence of unicorns from the fauna of the present-day can be traced back to a Noah-ark-flood mishap, in this case that the unicorns were too busy playing and being lovely to recognize that they ought to get on the boat.

But here’s the thing: I’ve only ever heard this song one place, and that’s on an LP I had as a child, which drew its title from another song about the last horse on the merry-go-round, who’s constantly trying to catch up with the others, only one day he looks behind him and suddenly figures out that he’s not last, but first!

I haven’t heard anything off of that record since I was, probably, seven. And, given the tenacity of the cats and rats and elephants now populating my brain, here’s what I want to know: Why don’t I have this kind of recall for things I read?

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