You are reading the archives for May 2012.

“MONKEY’S ON A TRIP” Gianni Rodari’s fable

One day the zoo monkeys decided to make an educational trip. they walked and walked, then they stopped and one asked:

– What do you see?
– The lion’s cage, the seals’ pool and the giraffe’s house.
– What a big world, and how instructive is travelling.
They started again their journey and stopped only at midday.
– What can you see now?
– The giraffe’s house, the seals’ pool and the lion’s cage.
– What a strange world and how instructive is travelling.
They started travelling again and stopped at the sunset.
– What is to be seen?
– The lion’s cage, the giraffe’s house and the seals’ pool.
– What a boring world: you always see the same things. And travelling is no use at all.
Of course!: they travelled and travelled, but they had not got out of their cage and did nothing but going round and round as the horses in a merry-go-round.

(Gianni Rodari)

The Fable of The Old Merchant, the Sleuth & The Tapioca

The Fable of The Old Merchant, the Sleuth & The Tapioca

A HIGH-PRICED Detective was sitting in his Lair, trying to look Mysterious, when there came to him a gray-muzzled old Business Man. The Latter was noted for his Probity, his Keenness and the Fact that he never Thawed. In the Commercial Agencies he was Rated AA Plus A1, which meant that he had it in Bales.

“I wish to enlist your Services,” said the Great Merchant. “A Young Man who lately has come into a World of Money desires to be admitted to Partnership in our Large Business. We are an Old and Reputable Concern, and before associating ourselves with this Stripling we wish to know all about his Character and Habits. We want you to Camp on his Trail and give us a straight Line on his Daily Life.”

So the Main Detective called in a couple of Ferrets, who drew Twelve a Week, and they began to Shadow the Young Man at $8 a Day. They put on Gum Shoes and covered their Faces with black Muffs, such as are worn by the Train Robbers in a Davis and Keogh Melodrama. They peeked over Transoms and shinned up Fire Escapes and hid behind Bill-Boards, and every time the Young Man made a Move they were Next. At the end of a Week the Celebrated Detective made a Report to the Pious Patriarch who had employed him.

“I regret to tell you that the Young Man who seeks a Connection with your Well-Known House is a Night Hawk and a Spender,” said the Superintendent. “He is trying to dim the Record of Coal-Oil Johnny. He opens Cold Magnums for the Merry-Merry almost every Midnight, and he is having Diamonds set into the Teeth of Nine of the Peroxide Sisters. By the time that he lands into his Happy Clothes of an Evening he is fairly well Corned, and he sees the Dawn of Morning through a Purple Haze. In the Afternoon, when he arises, he has a hang-Over which is made the Foundation of something very Tidy in the way of a Skate. lie begins to Push the Button and absorb the tall Pick-Me-Ups. For a six o’clock Breakfast he has a few Cigarettes and some of the cold Zippy-Zip. Thus he contrives to be the Custodian of a continuous Bun and stave off the Katzenjammer, his Life resolving itself into one long Honolulu Sunset. His Associates are a fine Bunch of Rowdy-Dows, who lean over when they Walk, and wear Lilac Gloves in the Summer Time. Their one Joy is to purchase little Hot Birds and big Johannesburg Twinklers for the Ladies depicted on the Lithos.”

“My! my!” said the staid old Merchant, as he shook his silvered Head. “He must be a Lah-Lah if he can hold to that Gait. I suppose he plays the Drunken Sailor with his Money.”

“I regret to say that he does,” replied the Eminent Sleuth. “All the Tin-Horn Sports and Shoe-String Gamblers speak of him as their Meal Ticket. He is put against a new Brace Game every Week. He is so Soft that sometimes even the hardened Sheet-Writers feel that it is a Shame to take it away from him. But they need the Vulgar Mazume, so they lighten him.”

“Is it not Sad to see a pin-headed Rake dissipating a Large Fortune built up by some one who Walked to save Car Fare?” asked the Old Gentleman. “You are sure that he has no Business Gumption?”

“No more than a Rabbit,” was the Reply of the Detective. “He is a Come-On for any Bunco Game in the List. He is a Ninny. Should you give him an Interest in your Business he would show up at his Desk about once a Month, and if you handed him an Assessment he would think it was a Dividend.”

“I thank you for your Report,” said the Pillar of Trade. “We will admit the Young Man to a Full Partnership and urge him to put in all the Coin at his Command.”

“I am surprised,” said the Sleuth. “He is a horrible Light Weight.”

“That is why he will be a Mark for a coolheaded Johnny Wise who lives on Cereal Food and gets into his Pajamas at 9.30 every Evening,” said the Prominent Merchant with a slight Grin. “Why should all this lovely Money go to Cabmen and straw-colored Soubrettes when it might as well be Garnered by an Honored Citizen who would know how to Invest it? From what you tell me of the Rapid Youth I conclude that he would be Meat for a crafty Side Partner.”

Next Day the Chorus Girls’ Friend was Taken In, and eighteen Months later the steady old Partner with the Snowy Locks had him euchred down to the Clothes on his Back.

His Fortune was permanently Invested in an Old and Reliable Establishment, and he was on his Uppers for fair.

MORAL: Any one who has the Qualifications can get in with a First-Class Firm.

The Fable of The Bureau of Public Comfort & The Man in Charge

The Fable of The Bureau of Public Comfort & The Man in Charge

THE Druggist stood in his Place of Business surrounded by Capsules, Hot Water Bags, Perfumes and Fluid Extracts. A Man came in and said he wanted to look at the Directory. Then he asked if “Murphy” was spelled with an “f.” He looked at the Hair Brushes, whistled a few bars of the “Spring Song” and went out.

A Small Boy entered and wanted to trade two empty Bottles for a Piece of Licorice Root. The Deal fell through, because the Bottles had a Name blown in the Glass.

A Woman came in and said she was waiting for a Friend. She had the Druggist bring her a Glass of Plain Water. She said she could not drink Soda Water because the Gas got up her Nose.

Another Woman came in for a Stamp. She did not have any Change with her, but was going to come in and hand him the Two Cents some time; that is, if he was Small enough to remember it.

The next who came in was a Man with hardly any Chin. He wanted a Free Sample of Liver Pills and an Almanac telling the Date of the Battle of New Orleans, when the Sun rises and sets and why the Chicken crossed the Road.

After him there came a Man who was in a Hurry and wanted to use the Phone. He was vexed when he learned that Skinner & Skinner did not have any Number. He asked the Druggist why it was. The Druggist said he was sorry and would See to it before the Man came in again.

Soon after two little Girls came on a Run and helped themselves to Picture Cards. They left the Door open, and a Boy in Overalls stepped in to ask if he could hang a Lithograph in the Window. The Druggist went back into the Laboratory and got a large stone Pestle. He was just ready to beat the Life out of the Cash Register when an Elderly Gentleman came in with a Prescription.

The Druggist Stayed the Blow and chirked up quite a bit. “This is where I catch even on the Day,” he said.

It was no Mirage. He had to and he did.

MORAL: Don’t Blame the Druggist.

The Fable of The Undecided Brunette & The Two Candidates


The Fable of The Undecided Brunette & The Two Candidates

A DARK-EYED Maiden was being Rushed by a Cheap Man and a Provider. They took Turn About in coming up to the House. She was a Child Wonder when it came to spreading her Dates so that one Gentleman would not cross another’s Beat. Each of the Applicants was led to believe that he was the Only One for whom all the Lights were turned on. He thought that when he failed to Show Up, she was in her own Room, looking at his Picture and Feeling Blue.

The girl did what she could to foster these Delusions. She wanted to hold as many options as possible, so as to have her Pick.

The Cheap Man had his Good Points. He was House Broke and could play Chords on the Piano. But from eight to five every day he was a Shylock. When he was in a Crowd he never did anything Rash that involved the use of Money. He saved a little more than his Salary every Week, and was pointed out as a Comer in the Business World. It hurt him to Let Go.

When he wanted to give the Brunette a Frolic, he would get a Book out of the Public Library and take it up to the House and read it to her. Once he put her on the Car and gave her a jolly Ride down to the Second Baptist Church to hear a Free Lecture on the Holy Land. At Christmas Time he sent the Dark Girl a Square Card with a Snow Scene, a Clump of Fir Trees and a Frozen Water-Wheel. When they went out to a Party, he always remarked that it seemed to be a Pleasant Evening and they might as well Hoof it.

The Provider was just the other Way. He was for Buying. The Queen received her Violets every Day or two, even though he had to Catch Even by lunching on Buttermilk and Sinkers. She got what she wanted and he took his Chances on standing off the Wolf at the Door.

He took her to a Theater and they had Parquette Seats on the Aisle. After the Performance the Colored Man would call out their Carriage Number and there would dash up a Team of Prancing Bays. The Provider would hand her into the glittering Vehicle with the graceful Flourish of a Sir Roger de Coverley. The Door would slam and away they would Clatter, with all the Awed Spectators wondering which one of the Vanderbilt Boys that was.

After he got back to his $2.75 Room and put the Dress Clothes where the Moths could not get at them, he would do some calculating on the back of an Envelope, and discover that he had Burned Up just One Week’s Salary between 7.45 and 11.15.

Then he would wish that a white-haired Old Lady with a Safety Deposit Vault full of Securities might come along and Adopt him and put him in a white and gold Suite with a Pianola and a Man-Servant.

The Provider was a Financial Feather-Weight, but he was Game as a Pebble. He worked on the Principle that a Man can Afford anything he can Get. He allowed himself nearly everything that the Rich Folks have, except Money.

He would invite the Brunette to Luncheon with him. When he was by himself he called it Lunch. That “eon” on the end usually makes a difference of about $4.85 in the Check.

They would repair to a Café with a Fountain playing in the center of the Room. Every time she pointed her Finger at another Item on the Carte du Jour, it put a Sickening Crimp in his Visible Assets and moved him about three Notches nearer to Hard Pan, but he never twitched a Muscle. He would push a Half over toward the Waiter as if it annoyed him to see Money lying around.

He would walk out as light as a Toy Balloon and put her in a Cab and send her Home, and then he would be down to his Gloves and a Bunch of Keys.

The Brunette was Up a Stump when it came to making a Choice. It seemed to be another instance of Horse and Horse. She knew that the Cheap Man would own Bank Stock and Corner Lots when the Provider would be living on Snow Balls, and yet she could not bring herself to lean up against a Stingy Old Thing who never Unbuckled. As for the Provider, he was the Kindest Friend she knew and a Good Thing while he lasted, but she knew that he could not Last farther than from here to the Corner. She guessed that if she went ahead and married the Provider, he would give her everything he Owned, but he never would Own more than you could put in a Steamer Trunk.

The Cheap Man, on the other hand, would have a Neat Balance and a Strong Rating, but it would require the use of an Anasthetic to get a Tailor-Made Suit out of him.

While in this Quandary, she consulted her Aunt Em, who was two kinds of a Widow, Grass and Sod. She had buried one Husband and come out in Black. She had tied a Can to No. 2 and come out in Bright Colors.

Aunt Em asked a number of Leading Questions in regard to the Qualifications of the two Suitors, and then she said: “My Dear Niece, this is a Tall Problem for a 20-year-old Girl to close in on, but you are entitled to a lot of Credit for holding back and studying your Cards. A Lass who was short on Foresight would have chosen the Provider, in the foolish Belief that she would continue to get the Violets and Broiled Birds all the rest of her Life. A Mercenary Maiden might have grabbed at the chance to be Mrs. Cheap Man, but you are Dead Wise in your Theory that one who is a Parsimonious Papa during Courtship will prove to be a Close Proposition as a Husband. The Man who will not Loosen Up under the Melting Influence of True Love is a born Gaspard. Truly it is not what Hubby has but what he Hands Out, that helps one to Endure him as a Necessary Evil. If you marry the Cheap Man, it is true that you stand a Show of getting the whole Estate sooner or later, but this is an Outside Chance, because the Cheap Man usually adopts a Diet of Prunes, Graham Bread, Vegetable Soup and plain Spuds, and he will be here a long time. The World is full of women whose Husbands are so far ahead of the Game that they can make fat Loans on Improved Real Estate, and yet each of these Wives is wearing Last Year’s Hat, with the Wing moved over on the Other Side. If she whispered Automobile to old Ready Money, he would throw a Double Arab. If you are going to start in to do a 40-year Stunt as Housekeeper to some Human Savings Bank, you had better put the Bargain on a Business Basis to start with. Go before a Lawyer and have him frame up an Iron-Clad Contract. Then you will get your little old Six every Saturday Night. Otherwise you will have to Coax it out of him and get about 75 Cents per Throw. As between the Generous Young Fellow who is Flat and the Moneyed Man who never Comes Up, it is about Six of one and Half a Dozen of the other. I think you are tied up with a couple of Frosty Ones. Auntie’s Advice would be to pull down the Blinds and pay a Visit to some other Town where the New Girl is a pleasing Novelty. There permit your Affections to Center on some Tractable Person who is neither a Prospective Pauper nor a close-fisted Clam.”

The Brunette caught the Wisdom of the Suggestion and took a little Jaunt to Cleveland where she fell desperately in Love with a General Manager of Set Habits and a calm, untheatrical Generosity. They came to an Understanding and lived happily ever afterward.

MORAL: It is Necessary to make a few Purchases both before and after Marriage.

The Fable of The Husband Who Showed Up & Did the Best He Knew How

The Fable of The Husband Who Showed Up & Did the Best He Knew How

ONCE there was a Wife who Entertained a great deal. She was all the time fixing up Layer Cakes, Combination Salad, Siberian Punch and Salted Almonds, even though the Bills piled up until her Husband was seldom more than two Jumps ahead of a Collector.

She was never more Happy than when she had the House full of grown-up Fairies, all talking at the same time. For two or three Days after an unusually Swell Session, she would sweep around the House in a Flowed Wrapper, stepping high and feeling that she could give Cards and Spades to Mrs. Potter Palmer.

She always had a Gallon or more of Visiting Cards in a German Silver Tureen in the front Hallway. Any one who dropped in was sure to notice that she was on Close Terms with the Best of Them. She used to Bulletin all the Doings at her House in Red Letters a foot high, and then when the Society Reporters came to get Names and Costumes, she would let on to be Annoyed, and say it was Funny that One could not have a little Gathering without the Papers wanting to know all about it. She preferred that Nothing Whatever be said about her Reception, but if the Forward Press insisted on printing something, they might say that it was a Rip-Sizzer, and the Beautiful Hostess wore a striking Creation in Pale Mauve Satinette and a quart of Diamonds.

The Husband of this Woman had no liking for Violet Teas or afternoon Whist Orgies. When his Wife was tearing open the Street with one of her Social Events, he preferred to stay Down Town and get a little Snack rather than Face the Music. He felt more at ease with a Swiss Cheese Sandwich in a German Place than he did while partaking of Brick Ice Cream and listening to Stories about the Pastor.

He got many Raps because of his evident Desire to Duck on the Festivities. Very often his Wife would give him a Turning-Over for his Failure to Show Up. She would ask him why he could not be like Mr. So-and-So, who always helped his Wife pass the Tea, and who went from one Woman to another with neat little Compliments. The Husband replied that if he had to be the same as Mr. So-and-So in order to make himself a Parlor Favorite, he hoped that he would continue to be merely one of the Also Rans. In his Opinion, the Husband that she had set up as a Shining Example was a feather-brained Gussie, who ought to be Drummed Out of the Community. He said he had no Use for a Married Man big enough to pull a Dray who carried a Pocket Handkerchief inside of his Cuff, and chatted about Dress Goods. If she wanted that kind of an Article around the House she had better pull the Rope and ask for a Transfer.

She came back by saying that she would just as soon see a Gentleman making himself agreeable to a Covey of Refined Ladies as see him off in a Club with a lot of Passenger Agents and Horse Breeders, pulling for Table Stakes and punishing Manhattans. Furthermore, she thought things had come to a Pretty Pass when a Husband would sneak in the Back Way and crawl up stairs to avoid meeting his Wife’s Guests. She nagged him until he decided that he would go in for her kind of Fun just to Keep Peace in the Family.

One day when the Street in front of his House was jammed with Coupe’s and Broughams and there was a Strip of Red Carpet trailed down the Front Stoop, just to give the Place a Tone, he came Home early and got into his Frock. This Man despised himself whenever he was in Ministerial Togs. He always was feeling for the Side Pockets. When he caught a Glimpse of himself in the Mirror, he realized that he was a Ringer for the Neat Artist who comes out in the Variety Show to play on the Sleigh Bells.

But it was up to him to please the Wife, so he got into his Long Suit and wrestled with the White Ascot, and gummed his hair down and rubbed a little Scent on himself so as to be as Offensive as possible, and went down to Mingle. He gave every one the highup Handshake, and said he was Awfully Glad to see her, and Beamed and Nodded and carried on as Unnatural as possible. It was a Flying Start. His Wife stood back, her eyes popping with Pleased Surprise, for a Woman always likes to Exhibit her Husband if he has been trained for the Show Ring.

This Husband was set on making a full Afternoon of it, after going to all the Trouble of changing Clothes and having his Hair cut. He was there to help Entertain the Guests if it was in him. So he slowly circulated about the Room, looking for some one who would meet him Half Way. When he spotted the Young Widow with the Coaxing Dimples and the taunting Smile, he said to himself that he could do no better, for she was the Town Talk. So he put himself alongside of her and began to make Spicy Observations. He had heard that one is permitted a certain Latitude with Widows, and he went in for the whole 180 Degrees. Instead of telling the Widow that the Weather had been very Changeable of late, he whispered to her that every Single Man in Town was ready to Marry her at the Drop of the Hat. She hit him Twice with her Fan and began to think he was not such a Dummy after all.

He said that if only he was Foot-Loose probably he would have a little Proposition to make to her. Then he started in to tell her how Crazy she had all the Fellows he knew. She became Flushed and said it was Terrible to tell her such Things and to please go ahead.

It was a Noble Effort at Entertaining, and he did not seem to mind the Work. They were quite Wrapped Up in each other, with the Heads about three-quarters of an inch apart, so they did not realize that all the Women in the Room were accumulating Material for a rich, succulent Piece of Gossip.

As for the Charming Hostess, who was compelled to witness the Brazen Performance for twenty minutes, she was so Red-Headed that she was splashing Tea and upsetting Lady Fingers all over the Best Table Cover. When Hubby cooed something right into the tiny Ear of the Flirtatious Widow and she gave him a saucy overhand Slap on the Elbow, the Lady of the House let out a quick Gasp, and it looked for a Moment as if she would Keel.

The Hostess had the Feminine Instinct, and she knew that the scandalous Going-On between her Husband and the shameless Widow had laid the Foundation for more or less spiteful Guess-Work. She was Mad enough to Scratch and Pull Hair. Not that she was Jealous. Only a little Provoked, that was all.

After all of them had gone and her Handkerchief was out and he was being Raked over the Coals, he waved his Arms in Despair.

“Didn’t you want me to Report here and be Agreeable?” he demanded. “I thought I was Fine and Daisy. The Widow says she never saw me give a Flash of my True Form before to-day. I came here to put in my Best Licks at Entertaining. I think I did it, on the level, for the Widow says I am a Bad Boy, and she has promised me her Picture in a Locket.”

Whereupon his Wife Shrieked and flounced over into an Arm-Chair, completely Out.

MORAL: Only One in a Thousand ever strikes the Happy Medium.

The Fable of The Girl with a Handicap Who Had to Lock Up Her Parents

The Fable of The Girl with a Handicap Who Had to Lock Up Her Parents

HERE we have a Fable regarding a Nice Girl who liked to have Young Men drop in of an Evening. She always used them the best she knew how and she might have closed a Deal early in the Game, had it not been for her Parents. They were not overly Bright, for they carried the Delusion that they could help Daughter in her efforts to jolly along the local Lotharios.

Instead of taking to the Back Rooms and giving little Jeanette full Leeway in the Parlor, they would butt into the Tête-a-Tête and try to be Cordial with the Young Man.

Father’s Idea of making himself the Life of the Party was to tell of his Experiences at the Battle of Stone River and what he said to Cap and what Cap said to him. And plenty more that never got into the Records of the War Department. Mother thought it would Help Some if she would sit over by the Gentleman Caller and refer to the two Distinguished Relatives, so that the Young Man might know that there was a Family Tree. Mother’s work was very much to the Sand-Paper and Jeanette would try to Call her off.

After Father had told what he could remember about the Civil War and Mother had spread herself on the Prominence of their Connections in the East, the Young Man would move his Feet a few times and guess he would have to be going. Jeanette would follow him out to the Hallway and help him with his Coat and tuck in his Muffler and tell him to be sure and come back soon. He would Promise, of course, but it was Dollars to Dumplings that many a Moon would Wax and Wane ere George went against that Combination once more.

Jeanette was a dutiful Child and respected her Parents, but after they had dished many a Bright Prospect she had to rise up and have her Say.

“You two would be Strong Cards in an Old People’s Home,” she said, “but when it comes to fixing up a Good Time for one of the Boys, you are a couple of superannuated Shines. I am only a poor, weak Maiden, with a Vocabulary of about 300 Words, and I do not belong to the G. A. H. or know much about our Family History, but if you two will go lose yourselves and let me handle all Comers alone and single-handed, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if there would be Something Doing in a little while.”

Although convinced that she needed their Assistance, they yielded to her Wishes. She moved the Sofa out in front of the Grate and extinguished all the Lights except a couple of blue Candles and the next time a Young Man called he didn’t care if he never went home.

And there was no War Talk.

Then when she began to wear an Engagement Ring, Father and Mother had to Admit that she had been right.

MORAL: A Good Girl doesn’t need any Help.

The Fable of The Knowing Friend Who Tipped off Her Star Recipe

The Fable of The Knowing Friend Who Tipped off Her Star Recipe

IN a shady Street there dwelt two Maidens who had their Traps set and baited.

“Come on, Boys,” is what it said over the Door. They were at the Age when they lived on Caramels and Excitement. All respectable Males who could talk back and who kept their Hair combed were more than welcome.

One of the Girls was a grand little Piece of Work and she had a slew of uppetty-up accomplishments but for some reason her Turnstile did not check as many Visitors as that of her Chum across the Way. The other Girl might not have copped off many Prizes at a Beauty Contest and it had been remarked that her Piano-Playing was Fierce, and yet she caught a majority of the Callers.

One Day as the two Friends were chatting, the one who had the Looks entered a Complaint.

“Why is it,” she asked, “that you continue to stand Ace high with a lot of the Boys who seem to have passed me up? I know I am counted more of a Beauty than you; my Musical Education cost twice as much and I have got you sewed up in a Sack when it comes to Correct English, yet you draw the Crowd. Where do I fall down?”

“Deane, I hate to let any one else in on a Snap, but I suppose I must,” replied her Companion. “I will admit that as a Grammarian you are a Peachamaroot, but do you ever stop to consider the Topics that you spring on your Young Men? You sit in front of them and you tell them what a bother it is to Shop all Afternoon and what Girls you saw down town and what a Time your Mamma has been having about a Cook and how Grace said something that just made the other Girls shriek. For a whole Evening you Blat about your own Affairs. Of course, Common Politeness requires the Gentleman to throw on the Fixed Smile and pretend to Follow you, but he is Bored. No Man cares much for what she said and then what you said to her. You never can win a Home by sitting around and talking about yourself and your Girl Friends.”

“And how do you manage it?” asked the other.

“Oh, I suppose I don’t know a Thing about the Male Sex, do I?” asked the Popular One with a Squint. “From the Minute that any Charley-Boy shows up at my Work-Shop, I talk about Him and nothing else. I make him tell me about his Clothes and how he has his Room fixed up. I repeat all that I ever heard any of the Girls say about him. If I can’t recall a good Phulopene, I vamp one. Anything to keep him Warmed Up. I throw the LimeLight on him all Evening. He has the Center of the Stage and makes all the Hits and gets all the Flowers. I am simply present to feed him his Cues and demand Encores. Sometimes it is hard work to Boost all Evening but I seldom fail to land him. When he gets up to go at 11 o’clock, he is thrown out in front like a Russian Sleigh. Naturally, he thinks I am just about the Main Lady of the whole Works and he is back to see me again next Evening.”

“But we are not Orientals,” said the Good-Looker, proudly. “If there is to be any Flattering or Incense-Burning, let the Men do it. I do not believe that Modern Woman should put Man on a Pedestal.”

“Some Day I will single out one and marry him,” said her Friend, in a confidential Whisper. “And when I do, be won’t stay up on any Pedestal more than Twenty Minutes. You know me.”

“I begin to Tumble,” said the other, thoughtfully. “I think I can find use for your little Pointer.”

MORAL: It is better to hold back a few kinds of Conversation for those long Evenings at home.