Feb. 16, 2000

This is my contribution to Connected Recollections, the journal collaboration project for the MEMOIR webring. The topic this month is:

Once Upon a Time

Which fairytale or childhood story has your life most resembled?
Have you met your prince charming, the big bad wolf, the evil step-mother, the Wicked Witch of the West?
Are you a warrior, a princess, the Queen of Hearts? Brer Rabbit?
Did you become a graceful swan? Will you live happily ever after?

I've drawn a blank on this topic. Big time. My kids are too old to still have their fairy tale books lying around, but I did a web search and came up with a great resource of stories, many of which were new to me.

But still, blank.

Perhaps it's a lack of imagination on my part, but I can't relate my life, or any aspect of it, to any of these stories. Nothing has been fairy-tale wonderful, and nothing has been ogre-under-the-bridge horrible.. in retrospect, anyway. The single most important aspect of my life is my family, so maybe I'm Mother Goose!

One story did ring very true, and while it doesn't reflect my life, it reflects my present outlook. I'm pasting it here since I wasn't very familiar with it which leads me to suspect someone reading might not be either:

WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK

Once upon a time . . . a farmer and his son went to market to sell a donkey. However, they loaded the beast into the wheelbarrow, so that it would not reach market tired and worn out, and pushed it along the road. When people saw such a peculiar sight, they loudly remarked: "That man is mad! Whoever saw a donkey being taken to market in a wheelbarrow!"

The poor farmer became more and more confused, for the farther he went, the louder the comments became and the more people gossiped. It was the last straw when, as they passed the blacksmith's forge, the smith jeeringly asked the farmer if he wanted shoeing, since he was doing the donkey work! So the farmer stopped, heaved the animal out of the wheelbarrow and climbed onto its back, while his son walked behind. But that made matters even worse!

A group of women going home from market instantly complained: "You cruel man! Fancy a great lump like you riding a donkey, while your poor little boy runs along behind! You ought to be ashamed of yourself!" People heaped insult upon insult, till the unhappy farmer slid off the donkey . He simply did not know what to do next. He took off his cap and mopped his brow.

"Whew!" he exclaimed. "I never imagined it could be so difficult to take a donkey to market." Then he hoisted his little boy onto the donkey and walked along behind. This time, a cluster of men began to protest. "Look at that! There's a young lad sitting pretty as you please , on top of a donkey, while his weary old father has to go on foot!" "It's a disgrace."

Once again, father and son came to a halt. How on earth could they stop people from criticizing everything they did? Well, in the end, they both got on the donkey. "What heartless folk!" exclaimed the passers-by. "Two riders on one little donkey!" But by now the farmer had lost his patience. He gave the donkey a terrible kick, saying:

"Giddy up! From now on, I'll do things my way, and pay no attention to what other people think!"

This is a concept that I figured out around the age of 40. It's a concept that, if you can pull it off (without trampling on the rights of others, of course) can set you free.

In other news.. Dad saw the doctor again today, for his abdominal problems. He's moderately (but not completely) improved so another two weeks of antibiotics was prescribed. I'm glad the doctor isn't knife-happy but I wonder if surgery can be avoided. Time will tell..

Poor Dad tried to weasel out of going, for fear of being hospitalized. It's snowing. (It was, but we're in Montreal, not Toronto. We carry on.) I'm tired. Maybe the doctor won't be there. I'm old. I'm 84. Just let me go quietly... etc etc. Not a small dramatic streak. I let it all wash off my back and ignore it. Strange thing is, once I'm home again, I feel an urgent need for a nap, no matter how much sleep I had the night before. How can it be so exhausting!

Linque Du Jour:   His & Her Journals Part II

He Said She Said

Young married couple in Milwaukee. A well-written, fun glimpse of life as it used to be long long ago (before kids!) Nifty use of frames, too.

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