Actually, it was extra hilarious to get the cartoon when I got home yesterday evening because I had a beaver run-in of sorts on the subway while I was on my way back from work. The train was relatively empty until we pulled into 96th St. (Not too many people are commuting into Manhattan from the Bronx during the evening rush; I love reverse commutes!) When the doors opened, an overwhelmed mother tromped on with her three kids. The youngest one, who was about 5 or 6 years old, sat down next to me on the bench. Almost immediately, she reached out for my backpack and grabbed the little stuffed beaver keychain that I have clipped to the side.
I was quite taken aback at her brazen grab, but she was utterly transfixed by the critter. This is not entirely surprising, as it really is a cute little brown teddy bear that some demented manufacturer turned into a beaver by sewing a beaver tail onto its butt and sticking two mini white buck teeth under the snout, so it is definitely odd looking. Eventually, her mom asked her to stop touching my things, but by then I had turned to the girl and told her that she grabbed my beaver friend.
"How do you know what it is?" she asked me, eyes open wide. Her sister, who was about 10, snickered, although I think just in general and not at the double entendre.
"See his two big teeth and big flat tail?" I asked. She nodded vigorously. "That's how you know it's a beaver. Beavers need big teeth so they can chew through trees and use the wood to build their homes."
"Oh..." she intoned. More giggling from Big Sis.
"Um, honey," the mom said with a bit more urgency, "Can you please leave that woman's bag alone?" She made no move to enforce her request though, so the girl continued holding the beaver in one hand and petting him with her other one.
"Mom," the older girl smirked, "what do you call the houses beavers live in?"
"Dams," Mom replied warily.
"I thought so," daughter giggled.
By then, we pulled into the 72nd Street station, and the young beaver lover, her karate uniform clad eight year old brother, her giggly sister, her mom with no status as an authority figure, me, and the beaver exited the train and went our separate ways. It's always nice when you can educate a young mind about the wonders of beavers.