[The auction for this Significant Object, with story by Nathaniel Rich, has ended. Original price: $1. Final price: $57.]
Do you ever struggle to remember insignificant facts? Facts so small and irrelevant to the natural course of your life that you wonder how you ever learned them in the first place? And yet your inability to recall them infuriates you. Who was the actor in that Greek film, you know the one with Melina Mercouri, from the sixties? What do you call the stick that leprechauns carry? What’s your cousin’s girlfriend’s name? Is it “Man on the Run,” or “Band on the Run”? Who is that famous autistic lady who writes about what it’s like to be an animal?
The answers to all of these questions and more will be answered when you come into proud possession of the Rhinoceros Knows. Whenever you feel stumped, simply rub its nose (also known as its “horn”). You will feel a jolt of energy in your neurons, your synapses will grow extra sticky, and your frontal lobe will throb pleasantly. Also, the rhinoceros’s eye will, ever so subtly, twinkle.
And then, in no more than five minutes, the answers will come: Phaedra is not a Greek film, but an American film set in Greece; the actor is Tony Perkins. Shillelagh. Candace. “Band on the Run.” Temple Grandin.
One warning: the Rhinoceros Knows must not be misused. Should you try to retrieve a more significant memory (“When did I first tell him that I loved him?”), the Rhinoceros Knows will shut down. From its eye will descend, ever so subtly, a tear. It will know no more.
Study the image of this talisman. You will see that the body is heavily crosshatched, as an elderly palm or a balled-up sheet of aluminum foil that has been carefully unfurled and pressed into its original form. These creases are important, for there is exactly one for every question you are permitted to ask. Do not go over your limit. The total number of creases is unknown, and impossible to count, but woe to the person who asks one too many questions. On that occasion, as soon as you rub the rhinoceros’s nose, you will feel a rather violent knock behind your forehead and your short-term memory will vanish altogether. You will be left only with the answers the rhinoceros has already given you, and your brain will cycle through them, nonsensically, for the rest of your life.
You must pass the Rhinoceros Knows on to another person before you reach that point. Trust me. It is a waking hell.
“Do you ever struggle to remember insignificant facts? Facts so small and irrelevant to the natural course of your life that you wonder how you ever learned them in the first place?”
All the time. More like every day, I scratch my head trying to remember things I know that I know, but can’t remember.
I need my own “Rhinoceros Knows”