Don’t aggravate a gila monster

mullet over

– Mister! Mmm … you smell good today. Perhaps you are sporting Aqua Velva aftershave? That fragrance was introduced to American markets in 1917 and was an immediate financial success. Doughboys returning from various sites of combat after WWI donned the scent and launched an initial public offering that “pulchritudinous females” found attractive.

– From a list of 20th century commercial campaigns that were once (but no longer) comforting and trendy — a Schlitz Beer magazine advertisement picture was drawn depicting a weeping woman in despair because she had scorched her husband’s supper: “Do not worry, Darling. You didn’t burn the beer.”

– Julius Caesar was famously afraid of cats. The legendary Roman military leader often altered his plans, even combat strategies, because of the presence or behaviors of felines.

– It was in 1958 that Pope John XX III spoke in an interview replying to the question “How many people work in the Vatican?” The Pope veraciously answered “About half.”

– In the state of Arizona, it is against the law to kill, injure or even aggravate a gila monster. I understand that state troopers and game wardens readily and aggressively enforce the ordinance regarding indigenous Heloderma suspectum.

– In 1921, several residents of rural Swaythling (in Hampshire, England) began to find the foil lids of their milk bottles vandalized. Small amounts of milk had been removed from most bottles. Early morning spying by folks living in Swaythling revealed that several clever small birds called blue tits (I am not making this up) had learned to pierce bottle lids and daily dined on fresh cow milk. Several Cyanistes caeruleus had learned from fellow flock members in a manner so efficient that the entire local species population seemed to be enjoying a newly discovered food source. Animal behaviorists were thrilled. Several dozen scientific papers have been published sharing relevant data and scientific analyses concerning the-milk eating Blue T. Phenoms.

– Over millennia, African elephants (Loxodonta) have developed a skin that is one of nature’s marvels. Often more than 1.6 inches thick (notice the decimal) on a mature beast, those tough hides can deflect attacks from almost any natural predator. Under close scrutiny, one can see thousands of what might appear to be deep skin arroyos. These tiny canyons can fill with mud and protect the pachyderms from dehydration and bites from lesser animals. Additionally, the irregular epidermal surfaces can enable an elephant to carry away ten times as much life-giving liquid from a river-dip as might an animal with smooth skin. My advice is to never bite a Loxodonta. On your best day, you could not penetrate his/her casing and you may get severely injured while entertaining yourself and amazed onlookers. Have a great day.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at