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How Rabbit Became Trickster
A (pseudo-)Seminole Indian Story
by Art Bupkis

When I was but a young brave I wondered how such a small, nervous animal as Rabbit became "Trickster"--the adjuster of the cosmic order, and The King of comedy.  This is what I was told.

The Seminole people like a good joke. Indeed, they used to have joke contests that would last for days. But this human sport was nothing compared to the very first joke contest, the one amongst the animals. 

Every animal wanted to be crowned Trickster, The Champion. Even buffalo believed he'd be great for the job, if you can believe that. So, to cut down on entrants, it was decided that the contest would be at the risk of death. Each contestant would have to tell jokes to Cottonmouth Moccasin The Water Snake, the meanest old sourpuss in the swamp--and not too bright, either. If Cottonmouth didn't like your joke, he'd surely give you a bite. As a consequence, there were only two contestants, Rabbit and Toad.

Rabbit went first. Cautiously, he hopped up to Cottonmouth, who was sunning on a muddy log down by the river.

"So, ah, Mr. Moccasin, sir, why did the snake, ah, someone sort of like your noble self, sir, roll on the road?"

Cottonmouth looked at him evilly, then hissed, "This better be good, bunny boy. And you'd better not be making fun of any of my kin, either. Go ahead, tell me."

"Ok. Ok… So, ah… To scratch his itchy hide?"

Cottonmouth rose up and opened his jaws slowly, exposing long, venom-dripping fangs against the cotton-white of his gaping, rabbit-sized maw.

"Yuck, yuck. That ain't so bad, bunny boy." he said, then coiled back down. Cottonmouth Moccasin then closed both his mouth and eyes at the same time.

Now Bullfrog had been watching and listening carefully, and he just couldn't believe it. That was the stupidest joke he'd ever heard. Moccasin clearly had no taste.  Sure wouldn't be hard to keep up with Rabbit if that was the standard. Bullfrog leapt right up to take his turn.

"Ok. So, why did the snake slink after the toad?"

Cottonmouth didn't even open his eyes. "You tell me, Warts. Why did the snake crawl after the toad?"

"Cause he couldn't get a ride!! YUCK! YUCK! YUCK! HA! HA!!"

Cottonmouth opened his jaws slowly….  grabbed the toad, and swallowed him down.

Cottonmouth Moccasin The Water Snake then turned slowly to the audience.

"Wrong. That's just plain wrong.  I should know. It was to get hissss-ssself sssome food insssside… yesss, that wasss it, yesssss. Everyone knowsss usss snakesss ain't vegetariansssssss… but we just lovessss T-O-A-D -food!!! Ha! Ha! Get it? "Tofu", "toad-food". Funny, huh? Now ya'll go away 'n let me sssssleeeeep. Without my sssssleeeep I getsssss kind a dopyeeee 'n meeeeean. Yesssssssssss…"

So that's how Rabbit became "Trickster". And he still is. No other animal would ever try addressing old Cottonmouth again.

And the moral of this story? Bugs Bunny said it best: "Never think you're better than us rabbits, doc, until you've tried talking a while with our moccasins."