The eighth dwarf

    Little is known about Snow White’s eighth dwarf. So let me tell you a small tale about his obscure yet important life.

    The eighth dwarf, known to his dwarf brothers as Tobey, lived a short life. No, not like what you’re thinking. Well, actually like that, but it’s not quite what I mean. Anyway, Tobey’s life was brief but full. What more could you ask for, other than a few extra years? Tobey didn’t ask for anything more, so he didn’t get it. So after 33 years living as a dwarf, he died.

    But my apologies, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind the story clocks back five years to his fateful encounter with the fair Ms. White.

    It was a snowy day in June (not because of global warming, but because Snow White’s kingdom occupied land in the Southern hemisphere), and Tobey was hard at work in the mines. It was a Tuesday, so the dwarves were mining cotton. Cotton has many uses, candy being primary. Sometimes it is used to make clothing, but the dwarves much preferred polyester. And polyester is mined on Thursdays.

    The seven other dwarves were on their lunch break, but as was custom, one dwarf had to remain in the mines to keep a watch for thieves, burglars and robbers. The latter are the worst of the bunch, by far. Tobey was not doing a very good job watching, so he was surprised when a voice spoke from behind him.

    “My oh my, are you short!” exclaimed the voice quite rudely.

    Tobey whipped around, caught off guard and thoroughly annoyed. “If you try stealing any of our cotton, I’ll call in my brothers! So get out!”

    “Don’t be short with me,” said the voice, which Tobey could now see belonged to a fair maiden.

    “I can’t help it,” muttered Tobey.

    “Well, maybe a few counseling sessions with the kingdom’s shrink could help.”

    Tobey shrugged. “Couldn’t hurt.” And with that, Tobey and the maiden walked off to the castle.

    That day, sixteen bushels of cotton were stolen during the dwarves’ lunch break.

    When the seven dwarves emerged after gobbling down tuna salad sandwiches, they couldn’t help but notice something was amiss. But not one of them mentioned Tobey’s disappearance. Some brothers, huh.

    Back with dwarf number eight, he and the lady were arriving at the magnificent, monstrous and malcontent (castles have feelings, too) palace.

    “Now you know for whom you’ve been mining jellybeans all these years,” said the maiden.

    “No, jellybean mining is on Sundays,” corrected Tobey. “Today was cotton.”

    “Oh, well we export all the cotton. We much prefer polyester.”

    “So do we!” Tobey looked up at the lady with a wide grin. “By the way, I never caught your name.”


    “Yes, it is snowing. That’s what happens in June.”

    “No, Snow is my name. Snow White.”

    “No oxymorons there.”

    “Of course not. We keep the oxymorons in the barn with the horses.”

    Tobey stared blankly at the monochromatically-named Snow White. “Can we just go to the shrink, now?” he asked.

    “Why of course! Follow me.”

    The unlikely pair snaked through the castle passageways until they reached the shrink’s office. Inside sat a plump man, bespectacled with thick glasses, wearing a bowtie, and munching on jellybeans.

    “Mr. Shrink, I have a new patient for you,” said Snow White.

    Mr. Shrink looked up from his snack, then looked down at Tobey. “Ah, you must be one of the jellybean miners,” said the shrink.

    “Only on Sundays. Today was cotton.”

    “Oh. I like polyester better. That’s why we ship the cotton over to –”

    “We know!” shouted Tobey. He blushed, embarrassed at this outburst.

    “Well, as you can now tell,” said Snow White, “this dwarf is a little short. He’d like you to fix this problem.”

    “Well, I’m accustomed to the opposite problem, but I suppose I can help. Let me search through my tools.” Mr. Shrink the shrink opened a black satchel and began perusing through various tools of shrinkery. Finally, he pulled out a rod-shaped metallic instrument. “This should do the trick. I just have to flip the switch so it’s on the right setting. Are you ready to be cured of your shortness?”

    “Ready as I’ll ever be,” replied Tobey. “My temper only gets in the way of –”

    Before Tobey could finish, a bright flash lit up the room. When the light dissipated, all seemed pretty much the same.

    “Wait, did you say temper?” asked Mr. Shrink.

    “Yeah. I always get angry at people, and Snow White said you could fix my temperament,” said Tobey, slightly confused.

    “I never claimed that,” objected Snow White. “I just said he could fix your short problem.”

    “Right, my short temper.”

    “No, your short stature.”

    A silence filled the room. A gooey, sticky, roiling silence. One of those humid silences that is the ideal environment to harbor mosquitoes. Snow White walked to the wall and opened a window. They could practically see the silence escaping.

    “There, that’ll help,” said Snow White. “Mr. Shrink, please explain to dear Tobey what will happen.”

    “Well, to cure you of your shortness, I zapped you with a growth ray. It’s not my specialty, but it should still work,” said the shrink.

    “But I don’t want it to work!” barked Tobey. “Oh, I guess you really didn’t cure me of my temper. So when will I start growing?”

    “Right about…now.”

    On cue, Tobey sprang up an entire meter (the kingdom had just switched from measuring in cubits). Then another. And another. He was now significantly taller than both Snow White and Mr. Shrink.

    “Well this isn’t happening like I thought,” pondered Mr. Shrink. He peered down at his zapping instrument. “Oh, that’s because I didn’t set the growth limit. Silly me.”

    “What? What in the name of jellybean mines does that mean?” erupted the no-longer-short dwarf.

    “It means,” Mr. Shrink explained calmly, “that you’ll continue to grow until you can grow no longer.”

    “And when will that be?”

    Tobey’s question was answered five years later when he suddenly collapsed, his bones no longer able to support his immense stature. The dwarf was thirteen meters tall. The past five years had been lonely and difficult: the other dwarves shunned their eighth brother, Snow White never came back to visit, and the polyester mines ran dry. Not to mention all the issues Tobey’s tallness caused. On the positive side, now that Tobey was finally faced with a true issue, his short temper had been cured. Nevertheless, Tobey’s short not-short-anymore life came to an early and unfortunate end.

    And that’s why puns are bad.


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