Apparently This Matters: I (was) the walrus

Jim Ruderer shared his son's schoolwork on Reddit, altering marine mammal nomenclature all over the Web, overnight.

Story highlights

  • Jim Ruderer of Hillsborough, New Jersey shared his son's schoolwork on Reddit
  • His son, Jonas, misidentified a walrus as a "wordbank"
  • Walruses online are now being called wordbanks ... because the Internet

Fact: The most underrated cute animal on the face of the planet is the walrus.

Sure, it's a 4,000-pound, breathing pile of assorted blubbery walrus parts, but so are most Americans. Thus, who are we to judge the walrus.


"Apparently This Matters" Is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.

And that has to count for something. Even if it means they're the unintentional hipsters of the animal kingdom.

So, yes, they're super fat and toothy, and they probably like bands you've never heard of, but walruses are still cute. And if they happen to do fun party tricks like sit-ups or playing a saxophone or PBR keg stands, it's all over.

Cuteness overload. Reward the walrus with fish.

The same applies to Wilford Brimley: If he performs, feed the man.

"Thanks, Wilford. Have a mackerel."

But here's the thing Walruses aren't really ... walruses. Apparently, now, they are officially known as wordbanks.

And here's why.

About a week ago, 39-year-old Jim Ruderer of Hillsborough, New Jersey was just washing dishes in his home while his wife, Heather, rummaged through papers in their son's school folder.

Heather walked over to Jim, didn't say anything, and just showed him one particular assignment from their son, Jonas.

Wordbank Brimley: "You check your blood sugar, and you check it often."

And it was hilarious.

You see, Jonas, who is in kindergarten, had incorrectly identified a seal as a walrus from a word bank of several different arctic animals in a matching exercise. Which, mind you, is easy enough for anyone to do. Especially a five-year-old.

But that's not the funny part. The seal labeling was just a small mistake.

And, to his credit, Jonas did correctly identify the shark. And the polar bear. And the arctic hare. And the arctic fox.

Just not the seal.

Or the walrus.

For that one, he chose ... wordbank.

As in, the heading from the box where the various animal names were printed.

"Heather and I could not stop laughing," Ruderer explained to me. "Jonas asked what was so funny, but flitted off to play with his brothers and sisters before we could work out what to say."

"But I don't want to be a wordbank."

So, eventually, being a modern parent, Jim did what was absolutely necessary -- he posted Jonas' school assignment on the website Reddit.

This was on Wednesday evening, right before Jim started making dinner.

Ruderer says that, amazingly, by the time they began eating, an image of his son's schoolwork was already the most popular post on the main page.

"I've never topped Reddit before," he says. "So, it was kind of exciting to see it well-received."

And then Reddit did what Reddit does. It went mildly insane.

By the time Ruderer and his wife started putting their five children to bed, pictures of walruses labeled as "wordbanks" started showing up everywhere, including several Beatles-themed images.

I am the wordbank. Goo goo ga joob.

Quite simply, Ruderer had created an Internet ... thing.

The next day, the walrus/wordbank situation got even stranger as more images and mentions started showing up on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Google+.

It was a modern phenomenon, and walruses had officially become wordbanks.

"I Am the Wordbank": Greatest B-side ever

Of course, Ruderer says, Jonas doesn't totally understand what's going on, but nevertheless likes the idea of being in the news and knowing that people found humor in his schoolwork.

And he's sticking with it.

Ruderer explained, "He just started saying 'wordbank' a lot. Which is pretty much what Reddit did, too."

And it couldn't have happened to a finer animal, for the walrus deserves a moment in the spotlight. Especially before they all die.

Despite their blubbery adorableness, they are a stark reminder that being overweight is no laughing matter. It can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

So, you check your blood sugar, and you check it often.

"Thanks, Wilford. Have a mackerel."

Follow @JarrettBellini on Twitter.

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