Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Fable, Retold

One day the animals were bored and so they decided to stage a contest. Zebra said, "I say we have a contest to see who has the most stripes!" Cow said, "I think we should battle to see who can produce the most milk!" Flamingo said, "I think we should hold a contest to see who looks best standing on one leg." And Raccoon said, "I think we should all dress up, and whichever one of us looks most like the Hamburglar should win!"

The other animals all hissed or mooed or growled or quacked or cawed or roared or whinnied or...you get the picture.

But then Cheetah strolled into the clearing and purred, "I say we race to see who is fastest."

Now Cheetah was widely regarded as the most arrogant of the animals (except for Lion, but he was always asleep) and all the other animals talked behind his back and spoke openly about their desire to knock him from his self-appointed pedestal. However, most of the animals were clever enough to realize that they stood no chance in a race against Cheetah.

"I'll do it!" proclaimed Human, who never lacked for unwarranted confidence.
"I'll do it!" blurted Hare, who wanted to make amends for that lackluster performance against the Tortoise.
"Fine. I'll do it," snapped Tortoise, after Crocodile and Chameleon goaded him into defending his title.

And so the field was set. On the appointed day, Human, Hare, Tortoise, and Cheetah all lined up at the starting line. Human thought, "I'll use my superior intellect to win." Hare thought, "I won't make the mistake of taking a nap in the middle of this race." Tortoise hoped the others would somehow disqualify themselves. And Cheetah told himself over and over, "I'm the fastest animal in the kingdom. Nobody is as fast as me. I'm awesome. I'm unbelievable. I'm so fast, I make light jealous!"

And they were off. Cheetah raced ahead of the pack, quickly disappearing over a rise. Human had hidden a pistol in his running shorts, but by the time he pulled it out and took aim, the Cheetah was out of range. He shot Hare instead. And Tortoise plodded along, inch after inch, as Human swore and Cheetah sped farther and farther away.

By the time Tortoise finally crawled over the finish line, Cheetah had already bought twelve rounds of drinks for the other animals to celebrate his victory. The animals seemed to have forgiven Cheetah his arrogance. Everybody loves a winner, especially when they buy the booze. Human was especially happy. He tried to hug Tortoise, but fell over instead.

"Congratulations," Tortoise said to Cheetah. "You are the fastest."

"I always knew I was," Cheetah said. "Slow and steady may have worked once, but it's a poor substitute for talent and confidence."



Anita said...

Love it. Totally want to be in on the free drinks.

Pat said...

Another sign of your talent and humor! Loved it. Keep on writing!