You will not believe this. There is just no way you are likely to believe this story I am going to tell you. Before you finish it some of you are going to say “Poor old Bill, he has finally flipped his lid, popped his cork or has serenely passed into second childhood. Nevertheless I am going to tell it anyway.
But first about....
It is bedtime on a cold December evening and I in my warm winter pajamas had just settled down for a few games of gin rummy with my computer opponent “The Shark.” My wife is ready for bed but says she is going to read for awhile, so taking the book I had received as a birthday present some years ago she gets into bed and starts reading.
After receiving a sound thrashing in the gin game I close shop, climb into bed and say to my wife “read me a bedtime story.”
THE BOOK from which the story is taken: In this book, “The Book of Virtues” by William J. Bennett, will be found a collection of stories that will help children understand and develop character — and help adults teach them. More meaningful to me however, was the note from my son on the fly leaf which read “Dad, here is a whole book about the things you taught me when I was but a lad. It was good to hear then. It is good to read now.”
And now about......
THE STORY :
“All right” said my wife, “lie down beside me and I will read you a story. Here, this seems to be a good one, it is the story about Chicken Little.”
“Oh goodie, is this the one that has Henny Penny in it and the sky is falling” I ask?
“Yes, but if you want to hear the story then be quiet and listen.”
So I lay there and listened as she read the story I had first heard some 85 or more years ago and perhaps had not heard again since I read it to my two children when they were small.
I listened as the story told about an acorn falling on Chicken Little’s head; how she ran to tell the king that the sky was falling and how along the way she picked up Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Lucy, and Turkey Lurky.
At this point in the story I had forgotten who or what came next, but I should have known that every story has to have a villain in it and in this case the bad guy turns out to be Foxy Loxy.
The story ends with Foxy Loxy leading all of these good people into his den, and they never saw the king to tell him that the sky was falling.
THE MORAL to this story:
In the words of Mark Twain: “I have known a lot of troubles in my life, and most of them never happened” and, like Chicken Little, we imagine many of our fears into existence. Thus we learn that while the freedom of imagination can lead us into pleasures and palaces it can also lead us into suffering from fear of that nonexistent bugger that is lurking around the next corner.
Now about the....
After finishing The Story and laying The Book aside my wife said to me “ Now you can read me a story tomorrow night.”
Because the above story is so short I am adding the following story about the embarrassment I caused my son when he became a member of the Robert E. Lee High School Band of San Antonio back in the 1960’s. In those days money was scarce, we had just purchased a new home, and we had secured for him an old cornet used by an uncle of his when he was in high school.
Both Jeb and his mother were humiliated because this second, third or forth hand cornet was so beat up they pleaded with me to buy him a new, up to date horn. Having been brought up to sanctify, bless and squeeze the dollar until it turned slightly blue I placed what I thought to be a reasonable condition for my giving into their pleas for a new cornet.
“Listen” I said to those two people who were ashamed of me for allowing a son of mine to be mortified by having to blow into that old beat up horn, “I recently read where Old Sachmo (Louis Armstrong) learned to play on a very old banged up cornet (trumpet) - not only did he learn to play it he learned to make wonderful music come out of that beat up horn. So I tell you what I am going to do - the day that I hear some real pretty music coming out of that old horn I will know that you have finally learned to make music. And when that day comes” I said to his mother, “I will buy that boy a new horn, but not until then.”
What happened? Did the boy learn to make pretty music come out of that old horn? Did his tightwad dad have to buy him a new horn?
One day the band director asked my son if he would like to play a brand new Flugelhorn. “I can’t pay the rent on one of those new horns” said the boy. “I tell you what I will do” said the band director, “if you will promise never to bring that damned old beat up cornet to school again I will let you play the Flugelhorn for free.”
“It’s a deal” said that chip off the old block.
When I asked him just what the devil a Flugelhorn was he explained that it was sort of a pregnant looking cornet.
Well sir, he played that Flugelhorn until the middle of his junior year at which time he was offered free lessons on a French horn if he would again change instruments. Now you guess what that son of old tightwad Bill did?
You’re right, he took the free lessons.
Now just a darned minute—before the author of the above story convinces you that “Old Bill” truly is a tightwad please give thought to the following testimony given by his friend Elmer Whistlebritches at Bill’s tightwad trial back on April 16, 2008 when he says: And I’ll tell you another thing Mr. Lawyer, Bode just got through buying hisself a brand new John Deere lawn mower and I’m atelling you right here and now that anybody who buys one of them high priced suckers sure as heck ain’t no tightwad”