Too Many Daves

By Steven Brownlow,

July 2, 2021

I was 5 years old, a kindergarten student in Omaha, Nebraska, where my father was stationed at 16th Corps. It was fall, and we’d leave soon to Japan, where I’d finish kindergarten and complete the 1st and 2nd grade. 

It was show and tell day, and it was my turn to present. I decided to bring my favorite story.

It was from a Dr. Seuss book, but not one of the well known ones like Cat in the Hat. This was a rather obscure and shorter one, called Too Many Daves. The story of Mrs. McCave, who had 23 sons and named them all Dave.

All went well until someone happened to wander into the room (I’d never seen him before), heard me reciting the short poem as I carefully turned the pages at the appropriate times, and decided I needed to go visit the 1st grade class with him. 

That also went well. The poem’s kind of first grade humor. So then the Principal (which is who it was), decided to take me to visit some older kids. I think it was the 4th grade. 

That did not go well. The older kids were way too cool for the Seuss humor, scowled, and wondered why their day was being interrupted by the Principal and a little kid. I lost my focus and couldn’t remember the words to the poem. I recited them out of order. I choked.

As we left the room, the Principal looked down at me. You weren’t ever reading that, were you?

In my full 5-year-old naïveté, I couldn’t see how he’d ever convinced himself that I was.

Of course not. I never said I was. I’m in kindergarten. I don’t know how to read yet! I was sharing my favorite book for show and tell. I came along with you because you and my teacher told me to.

So many years later, that memory came up today as I was exploring the pain of inauthenticity. What an odd way to pick up a shadow! The story’s so funny I decided to share it. 

And the Seuss poem. Here’s a link to Too Many Daves, with commentary on its brilliance by a blog author:

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Steven Brownlow

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