The Hedgehog Manifesto

Hannah Gutman

Once again, the Germans have ruined everything. I suppose “again” isn’t the right word. The World Wars of the twentieth century weren’t their finest moments, but my feud with the Germans started long before that—with the Germans that immigrated to America, to be precise. Can a feud be one-sided? I only ask because the Germans, without considering the repercussions of their actions, completely discredited the authority of my race. Once revered as prophets, now we are reduced to notoriety in illustrated stationery and YouTube videos.

 
In the mid-1800’s Klaus, Uta, Helga and all their friends found themselves in the New World. Without homes or livelihoods and finding their lederhosen to be wildly out of fashion, they did their best to bring the Motherland to Pennsylvania. They remained true to their upbringing; they raised their children to work hard, and drink harder. They told the old stories and kept the old ways. According to German lore, each year on February 2nd (or thereabouts) none other than the honorable hedgehog foretold the meteorological fate of the seasons.

 
A shadow cast by one of my noble ancestors meant at least six more weeks of winter. The tradition goes back even further to the Romans. The Romans believed if a hedgehog stepped out into the moonlight and cast a shadow, winter would carry on. When the German-Americans had polka’d their way to their new homes, there were no hedgehogs to be found. Yeah. That’s what happens when you’re too cheap to check an extra bag. You leave your culture behind. So did the immigrants send Lars to go back and fetch my kind? No. They looked around and plucked the first obese squirrel creature they came across.

 
What really gets my blood boiling is that pompous con-beast, Punxsutawney Phil. He gets the fame, the festivities, the cameras and fans, all for doing nothing at all. Besides all of that, this furry Kardashian also has his “Inner Circle,” a group of top-hatted, tuxedo-wearing men who take care of him. That’s all well and good, but if you look deeper Phil is into some freaky stuff. His cult following believes that he sips a magic elixir that adds seven years to his life. When he emerges to “predict” the weather he supposedly whispers his forecast to an announcer who can somehow understand the language they call “Groundhogese.” Sounds like these “fans” have some elixir of their own, because all that sounds like a woodland acid trip.

 
WE are the true weathermen, and yet to this day, Americans across the nation wake up on February 2nd and rush to their TVs to see if an oversized chipmunk has scared itself back into a hole or not. Have you actually seen a groundhog? Not cute. On a scale of zero to Jennifer Lawrence I’d give them a Rasputin. The average human coming across a groundhog outside the context of the holiday is most likely to think, “What the hell is that doing in my kitchen? MOOOOOMMMM!!!!” whereas an encounter with a hedgehog usually results in “ERMAHGERD TOO CUTE. Look at that widdle nosie. Awwww.” Our cuteness cannot be denied, but our cunning is often overlooked. We are born completely immune to snake venom. We can camouflage ourselves by licking a surface and producing foam from our mouths that smells exactly like said surface. We are highly advanced and intelligent creatures. We might even be aliens for all you know. (I’m not saying we’re related to Tribbles…but we might be related to Tribbles).

 
By far the greatest injustice we hedgehogs have faced at the hands of these land-beavers is the missed opportunity to be eternally associated with the great Bill Murray. Phil gets to work with him, and we get to be illegal to own as pets in the state of California. Groundhog Day is a wonderful film, aside from its glorifying portrayal of the “holiday.” Don’t get me wrong; I am proud to call Sonic my brother, but he’s no Billy Murray.

 
This February 2nd, when you tune in to that Punxsutawney broadcast or watch Groundhog Day, think of the hedgehogs. Small. Cute. Mighty. With honor we will await the day when the world will look to us once again for guidance. Until then, look for us in Santa hats and flower pots on Tumblr.

The Hedgehog Manifesto was published in The Annual #7. Click here to support The Annual!

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