Dear David

Dear David

by Yael van der wouden

Dear David Attenborough,

 

I can’t stop worrying about everyone dying. One of my aunts died last year and none of us saw it coming (she was young/healthy etc). I’ve noticed that most of my family has more or less processed it by now but somehow I can’t seem to let it go. I worry about literally everyone dying all the time now. What do I do? I want to stop worrying.

 

Please help,

– Worried

 

Dear Worried,

 

Did you know that dolphins pick their own names? When they are born they quickly learn to identify themselves to their family by crying out a very specific noise, what will essentially be their name. Singing it out can mean a whole variety of things for the dolphin: it can mean hello, goodbye, or can even be used to simply express joy. Like so: David! (Hello), David! (Goodbye), or David! (I am happy).

 

When dolphins die they call out their own name. They do this to make sure their family is close—they do this to remind their near ones: this is who I am. I am here now. I have known joy.

 

What was your aunt’s name, dear? When have you last said her name out loud? Has it been a while? Come, we shall do it together. You shall say hers, and I will say mine. Like so:

 

David!

 

David!

 

David!

 

Yours always,

– David

Dear David Attenborough,

 

I’m in love with my best friend what do I do!!!! If I say something and the answer is no then I’ll lose the most most most important friendship of my life……but if the answer is yes I won’t know what to do either…..cuz we’re friends how do I take it to the next level…….plz help…..

 

– Friend

 

Dear Friend,

 

Did you know? There is a little louse called the Cymothoa exigua that lives between the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Guayaquil, Ecuador. This louse’s only purpose in life is to find a healthy and hungry little fish. Once it does, it swims into the happy fish through its gills and attaches itself to the fish’s tongue. Its tight hold will, in time, cut off the blood supply to the tongue, which will eventually fall off. This is when our inventive louse becomes the tongue of the fish. It does a good job at it, does everything a good fish tongue should do, and the fish itself is none the wiser. Both are happy in the arrangement: the louse thrives and gets its daily nutrition, and the fish paddles along as before, eating whatever it can hunt down.

 

Now the truth of the matter is that once this partnership has been established—as peaceful as it is—the two can never part again. A louse without a fish will surely starve, and a fish without its tongue would not fare much better. This is neither a good nor a bad thing, but simply something to keep in mind.

I do hope this helps.

 

Yours always,

– David

Dear David Attenborough,

 

What animal is your favorite animal? And what animal do you think is the worst? Thanks!

 

– Annie

 

Dear Annie,

 

I am afraid that I do not have a heart that allows favouring any one living thing over the other. I have, however, always held a particular fondness for our old family dog, Tom. He was a Schnauzer, not very brave as far as dogs go but he certainly looked very dapper in the sweater my mother once knit.

 

I would also like to add that the mantis shrimp is quite a formidable creature. I do not have an individual mantis shrimp I prefer over the other; they are all magnificent. However,  I dare predict, they would not look as dapper in a sweater as dear old Tom.

 

Yours always,

– David

Dear David Attenborough,

 

I wish my mom could show affection. I mean I know she loves me but . . . I wish she’d say it more often. Am I being an insecure and needy baby? Would love to know your thoughts.

 

– Baby

 

Dear Baby,

 

We only hear a small fraction of the natural world’s true sounds. We do not hear how the beetles scuttle along the forest floor, or the screech of bats making their safe way home. Why, it was only just recently that we found out that rats – loving little dears that they are – laugh when tickled.

 

Yes! That’s right! Rats laugh when tickled. Only the sound of their joy was so soft, so high in pitch, that scientists needed a special machine to measure the frequencies, to even be sure of it at all.

 

Sometimes, dear Baby, what stands between us and what we desire is our ability to recognize what is already there.

 

Yours always,

– David

Dear David Attenborough,

 

What’s your home like? Just wondering haha.

 

– Curious,

 

Dear Curious,

 

What a question!

 

My home has several rooms, and a kitchen and a bathroom. We have dogs and a large garden. In my garden there is a pond where frogs come to lay eggs each year. I have a lot of plants in the sunroom, and I enjoy taking my coffee by the palm tree. Did you know that palm trees aren’t trees at all, but a type of grass? Did you know that there is no such thing as a tree to begin with, and that the very notion is merely a semantic one – an idea that we have of something that grows tall, something that grows arms? Of something that is rooted below and expansive above? And tomatoes aren’t vegetables but rather berries, as are bananas. Strawberries in turn are no berries at all.

 

I hope this answered your question.

 

Yours always,

– David

About the author

Yael van der Wouden

Yael van der Wouden is a writer, editor, and mixed-bag-diaspora child situated in Utrecht, the Netherlands. When she was 8 she saved a mouse from being eaten by a snake, then took it home where her dog chased it out the balcony drain pipe - of the 6th floor. Her words can be found all over the place, though most recently over at Cotton Xenomorph and Grimiore Magazine. She's currently working on a collection of short stories about monsters. Find her at yaelvanderwouden.com or on twitter @yaelwouden.