Ben Hoffman

Marvel Levy, Age Ten, Channels Her Angst Into An Essay On Why Giraffes Are Overrated

The main thing about giraffes everyone thinks of is the neck, and also their gracefulness and cuteness, but this is all a big misconception. This essay will show that giraffes are overrated, and that even though they look cute and tall they are actually mean and borderline bullies.

For one thing, think of what the giraffe sometimes does with his long neck/height, which is 16-20 feet tall. Yes, the giraffe can eat leaves from tall trees (more about eating in a paragraph I will write soon), but he could also keep the remote or the toilet paper high out of reach of his younger sister, who is shorter and smarter and deserving of those items.

Additionally, a second not-nice purpose of a long neck could be to look in the bedrooms of certain members of the JV which means junior varsity cheerleading team. If, for instance, a ninth grade boy was doing that, he might have to climb a tree which he knows how to do because he got to go to outdoor summer camp while his sister had to make bead necklaces at art camp, but giraffes cannot climb, but they do not need to, because in this case they can achieve the same thing as the teenage boy just by having long necks, and that same thing (spying) might be described as “gross,” “perverted,” or “juvenile.”

It is admitted that giraffes are tall, and also fast (the giraffe can sprint 60 kph, or just under 40 mph here in Indiana). But cute and graceful are opinions. For instance a giraffe has buckteeth and is considered “cute” but if some person has buckteeth no one calls her “cute,” instead her parents might say she needs braces and because of “recent finances” aka the economy getting turned down she might not get to choose special colors and be stuck with lame ones. And giraffes are considered graceful, just like, for example, if a ninth grade soccer star (only of the JV team) was running down the field, the soccer moms might describe him as “so graceful.” But if these moms were to get too close to him, like at the dinner table, or if they had to go to his room to wake him up when he overslept again, there might be ungraceful smells coming from all sorts of places.

Some people say the giraffe is smart, but according to Wikipedia which my teacher Mr. Earnest (you) said is now a legitimate source, “the structure of a giraffe’s brain resembles that of domestic cattle.” Well no one thinks domestic cattle aka cows are special or smart, given that they are always getting tipped over or just standing there waiting to be milked/eaten.

Anyway, back to giraffes, which are the subject of this essay. The giraffe is a vegetarian. When the giraffe eats it sort of regurgitates its food, which is disgusting and also goes back to my point about not being as graceful as everyone thinks he is. But also this vegetarianism is probably just a phase the giraffe is going through while he finds his place in the world/“rebels against the man,” to quote the giraffe’s dad, and anyway what if the smell of a chicken sandwich had been coming from the giraffe’s room, or what looked like hamburger bit was on the giraffe’s chin? Might that mean the giraffe is not actually a true vegetarian and is just posing as one to impress certain cheerleading individuals who are only vegetarians so they can fit into cheerleading uniforms? It might! And might not whoever discovered these clues be in line for some sort of recognition for once in her life? She might!

Speaking of eating, giraffes are preyed on by lions, but not enough. Some observers might wish there were more attacks, that a lion might rip into some particular giraffes, knocking him down on the food chain and tearing him from limb to limb, so that he cannot look in second-floor windows or hold valuable things above his sister’s head.

In conclusion, do you ever hear of a giraffe using its long neck to save a kitten or a monkey from a tree, or to retrieve a kite that ended up in a tree when someone’s brother flew it up there on purpose, even if his parents said it was only an accident? No, you do not.

Ben Hoffman is the author of Together, Apart, a chapbook. His stories have won the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Award and Zoetrope: All-Story's Short Fiction Contest. He is on twitter @benrhoffman and lives in Madison, WI, where he is the Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.