Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fuck You, Aesop!

B chose the topic of "Things That Piss Me Off."

"It's just like the story of the grasshopper and the octopus. All year long the grasshopper kept burying acorns for winter, while the octopus mooched off of his girlfriend and watched TV. But then the winter came and the grasshopper died, then the octopus ate all his acorns and also he got a race car." - Fry, Futurama episode "My Three Suns"

I hate fables. Hate them. They're boring, and they promote an overly simplistic worldview that isn't healthy. Real life can't be neatly summed up with a one-line moral.

I had never heard a fable until first grade, because my mom only read me interesting books. Then my teacher made us read "The Grasshopper and the Ant," and I don't think I've ever been more offended. Ok, the Grasshopper should have prepared more for the long winter ahead. So for that he deserves to starve to death? Our book had pictures of the Grasshopper playing a fiddle as well as singing, clearly sending the message that music isn't real work. Art is just playing around, not something you should get paid for. I think that right there is the reason people don't want to support the NEA.

I also hate Jean de la Fontaine's version, and I normally like reading anything in French. I'll sit around and read the French side of my shampoo bottle, mesmerized. But the Ant just turns into more of a bastard in that poem. He won't even give the Grasshopper a loan.

There are later versions where the Ant does agree to let the Grasshopper stay with him, but he's always really patronizing about it. Fucking self-righteous Ant. And so here's my own, improved version:

The Grasshopper and the Ant

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing, rewriting a song until he felt it was perfect. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

"Where are you off to with that heavy thing?" asked the Grasshopper.

Without stopping, the Ant replied, "To our ant hill. I'm putting away food for winter. Some of us have jobs, you know."

Actually, the Grasshopper had three jobs, none of which offered health insurance.

The Ant sighed. "I wish I could goof off all day like you. But I have real work to do."

"Um, yeah," the Grasshopper said. "I guess that corn isn't going to move itself."

"You bet it won't. But you, know, I've written a song or two in my time. I wanted to be a music major in college, but my parents wouldn't hear of it. They said I was going to study something practical, like corn moving, or else they were going to cut me off."

"Really? Let's hear one of your songs."

The Ant grinned and put down his ear of corn. He began to sing. He sang and sang, and at the end, he did an air guitar solo. It was the worst song the Grasshopper had ever heard.

"That was very energetic," the Grasshopper said.

"Yeah, it just comes to me naturally. Well, I've got to stop slacking off now." He picked up the corn and started walking away. "You have fun writing your little songs."

Suddenly, a mischievous little boy came along and held a magnifying glass over the Ant, who was burnt to a crisp.

The Grasshopper wrote a moving ballad about a young bug dead before his time. The song got picked up by some college radio stations, and before long the Grasshopper got a contract with a small indie record label. He eventually started making enough money to quit two of his jobs. He and his girlfriend moved in together, and they were reasonably happy.

Ants are gross, and it hurts like hell when they bite you.