Therapy Time at the Tall Tales Tavern

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Therapy Time at the Tall Tales Tavern

(Not so very long ago, I wrote about the Tall Tales Tavern.  I’m kinda taken with it so we’re returning there.  You shouldn’t have to read the first one to follow along, but it is linked just in case.)

Every tale is not to be believed.” –Aesop

“All right everyone, if you’ll all settle down.”  The old man ran his fingers through his thick white beard and stomped his walking stick on the hard wood floor.  “Okay, I think we’re all here.  Welcome old friends and new to Therapy Time.  As always, I’d like to thank the operator of The Briar Patch for letting us meet here in his fine establishment.”  The man raised his arm in appreciation and the rabbit bartender nodded in return.

Pic from Wikipedia.

“For those of you who are first timers, I bid you welcome.  My name is Aesop and I’m here just to facilitate the conversation.  Why don’t we go around the room and introduce ourselves?  After all, ‘No one can be a friend if you know not whether to trust or distrust him’.”

“Oh great, he’s quoting himself again”, an overweight pig muttered from the table across from Aesop.

“Now pig, why don’t you wait your turn?  After all, ‘One cannot be first in everything’.  ”Chicken Little, why don’t you start?”

“All right.  Well, like the man said, I’m Chicken Little, and I’m here because I’m a coward.”

“Hi Chicken Little”, the voices from the table all said in monotone.  Many of the creatures seated reached for a drink from their cups and slurped noisily.

“Well”, the small bird began as he shook nervously and a clump of feathers fell to the floor.  “It all started back when I thought the sky was falling.  The whole thing just sent me into a series of worries.  I mean, no the sky didn’t fall.  But now there are so many other things to be afraid of.  I mean, bird flu for example.  I’m a bird.  What if I get the flu?  Logic dictates that I’m the first to go, right?  So I’ve been bathing four times a day and washing my wings with sanitizer.  That’s why I wouldn’t shake any of your hands or paws.  Plus, there’s a wolf here.  What if he gets hungry?  I can’t fly very fast, so he’d probably come after me first.”

“You make an excellent argument”, the wolf said as he grinned.  He made a point of showing all of his sharp teeth.  They all looked ready to tear the chicken asunder.

“See!  This is what I mean!  There’s danger everywhere!  I can’t sit on the comfiest stool because it might tip over and send me falling to the floor where I might break my leg.  I can’t sit by the window or underneath that swinging light because there could be an earthquake at any moment.  We don’t know!  Danger is all around us!”

Chicken Little continued to cower.  He had worked himself up into a frenzied state and Aesop quickly moved on.

“Thank you for sharing, Chicken.  I know that wasn’t easy.  Keep in mind that there’s always hope.  ‘Time and place often give the advantage to the weak over the strong’.  Next?”

“My name’s The Youngest Billy Goat Gruff and I’m here because I use others as a shield.  I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true.”

“Hi Youngest Billy Goat”, the collective responded.

Pic from Wikipedia.

“You can just call me Youngest.  It’s cool.  Mom never really believed in short names.  Anyhoo, I use others to get me out of trouble.  When this troll guy wanted to eat me, I didn’t stand up to him.  I didn’t even have the guts to tell him off.  I sent my older brother after him.  It’s a cycle that most of my family goes through.  Even the Second Billy Goat Gruff does it.  Really, only Oldest has been brave enough to stand up for himself.  I mean, Second and I pretend that it’s all part of a big plan.  Y’know, we say that we’re getting into trouble so that oldest can feel all heroic.  But really, we’re just cowards.  I’m ashamed of what I’ve become.  No wonder there’s no Mrs. Youngest Billy Goat Gruff.  Who could ever love an animal that can’t stand up for himself and walk with his goatee held high?”

“Now Youngest, ‘Some men underrate their best blessings’.  There’s more to you than you think.”

“Some men?  I’m a goat.”

“Who’s next?”  Aesop did his best to gloss over the questioning tone that was always present with Youngest.  “Come on now, let’s all have a sip and take the nerves off.  It is often necessary to ‘Stoop to conquer’.  Anyone?”

“Yeah, well I got brothers too and I work together with them.  I wouldn’t put ‘em in danger like some sad sacks of fleece.”

“I’m a goat, not a sheep.”

“Whatever ewe say, Sheepy.  My name’s The Second Little Pig, but my friends call me Sticks.”

“Hi Sticks”, the crowd responded.

“Not you!”  The pig slammed his hoof on the table and yelled at the woof.  “I said my friends.  You aren’t any friend of mine, wolf.”

“Oh c’mon, you’re so tasty.  You’re looking good and plump today.  I could just eat you up.”

“That’ll be enough of that, wolf.  Remember, “Those who cause evil are the first to be overwhelmed by its ruin’.”

“Please, I would overwhelm you in three bites.  Four, if I have to use utensils.”

“Oh, shut up you big hairy monster.  It’s supposed to be my turn.  Anyways, people get mad because I’m bitter. And y’know what?  I am.  Pigs are clever, look it up.  Houses are still made of wood every day.  There are other countries that use bamboo for scaffolding.  Why wouldn’t I make a home for myself out of twigs and branches?  It’s better than that flimsy straw hut my brother built.”

“But it wasn’t enough to keep me out, was it?”  The wolf jeered at the pig.  He laughed so hard that beer came out of his nostrils.  The pig slammed his drink on the table in anger.

“This is what I’m talking about!  This; right here.  I made a perfectly sound structure, and this creature thinks it’s funny to tear it all down with a few huffs and puffs.  Do you know how hard it is to construct with cloven hooves?  How tasking it is to hold a hammer and bundle up a stack of lumber?  It’s almost impossible!  And yet, he laughs at me.  I’m especially bitter that this jerk is even allowed here tonight.  What moron invited this guy?”

“I did”, the swan said.  “I’m trying to be nice to others.”

“Oh please”, Sticks snorted.  “Why would you be that naïve?  C’mon, if there’s anybody a wolf is going to eat before a pig, it’s gonna be you.  Fresh fowl?  That wolf is gonna gobble you up as an appetizer.”

“Hey guys”, Chicken Little peeped.  “Could we keep it down a little bit?  I’m afraid of confrontations.”

“Oh hush.  You’ve had your turn, we’re done listening to your silly little problems”, the swan said dismissively.  “I’m here because I’ve been told that I’m too vain.  Oh, I suppose I should introduce myself properly.  I’m Reginald the Majestic, Regal, and Grandiose Swan.  You may address me as Reginald, if that is acceptable.”

“Hey Reg”, the creatures responded.

“Actually, and I don’t mean to be a bother, but I really do prefer Reginald.  It has more of the air of perfection which I feel I’ve attained.”

“No three guesses as to why this joker is here”, the wolf snickered.  “I shoulda eaten ‘em.”

Public Domain in United States due to age.

“I’m not entirely sure what thoughts the gentle-wolf is trying to convey, but others around me have begun to insinuate that I may not have the humblest of personalities.  Honestly, I just don’t think that they understand.  I started off so humbly.  I was the ugliest of all the feathered fowl in my family growing up.  But, when I finally hit puberty?  I found out that I had been adopted.  I took a good look at myself and suddenly it all made sense.  My early years of being insecure were washed away, and instead I learned to fully embrace this gorgeous creature that you see before you now.”

“Be slow in your own praise, Reginald.  ‘False confidence often leads to danger’.  Also, ‘Beauty is only skin deep’.”

“But Aesop, is it really false confidence if I light up any room that I come into?  Clearly you must admit that this dingy dump is only improved by my being here.”

The rabbit bartender’s ear twitched with annoyance.  He quickly grabbed the swan’s tab and added a few miscellaneous charges to the bird’s bill.  How much can charge for napkins and table service, the schemer thought as his revenge came across in exorbitant fees.

“My stomach will be much improved by you if ya don’t shut up”, the wolf growled.

“All right wolf, just relax”, Aesop said with a strained amount of patience.  ‘Do nothing without a regard to the consequences.’  Now what’s your story?”

“I don’t have a story.  I eat when I’m hungry.  Some say that it’ll get me in trouble.  Me, I don’t really believe it.  I just see all you silly critters running around like a to-go menu.  Swanny here figured I might not eat him if I just got to know him better.  Right now, if I weren’t so full of beer, I’d eat ya all up.”

“I told you!”  Sticks looked to the others at the table.  “I told you he doesn’t belong here.”

“Yeah, whatever”, the wolf replied.  “But speaking of ‘here’, that reminds me.  Hey bartender!”

The rabbit looked up from his glass cleaning with an innocent look on his face.  An angelic expression of innocence was on his furry face.  He pointed at his vest and bowtie-clad self as if to say, “Me?”

“Yeah, you.  I wanted real beer, not this cheap stuff.  If I ever see you again you better make amends.  Next time I’m served this swill I’m shoving your head into that tar baby.  Oh, and my cousin Br’er Fox says you owe him for what you did to him.  He says you know what that means.”

Br’er Rabbit only blinked a few times and went back to cleaning the glasses.  As the creatures turned back to their therapy session, Br’er Rabbit ducked under the counter, fell on the floor, and rolled over in silent laughter as the memory of his past escapades tickled him with delight.  Meanwhile, the wolf was done being polite.

“By the way Aesop, what’s the idea of getting us all together to talk things out?  I mean, are we supposed to be giving each other advice?  ‘cause I thought you yourself warned to, ‘Beware of the counsel of the unfortunate’.  Didn’t you once say, ‘Every man should be contented to mind his own business.’?”

“Perhaps you should heed this; ‘He is wise who is warned by the misfortunes of others’.”

“Or you’re just mad that I’m on to you”, the wolf said with a sneer.  “’Hypocritical speeches are easily seen through’ y’know.”

“I try to welcome all, wolf, but it apparently in your case, ‘Evil companions bring more hurt than profit’.”

The wolf laughed at the group, left without paying his tab, and set out for his long walk home.  He had a date tomorrow with a tasty young girl he’d been following.  Maybe she has some relatives I can devour, he thought to himself.  The wolf hoped that there would be much less talking and much more eating in his future.  The wolf walked through the starry night.  He grinned wickedly as he thought about the very full belly he might end up with tomorrow.

“I think this was a very nice session”, Aesop said as he tried to end on a positive note.  “Things didn’t go as planned, but I feel like we really explored some deep emotions here.  I want to thank you all for your bravery in participating today.  Now, before we go, what’s our number one moral to remember?”

“Contentment with our lot is an element of happiness”, chanted the group in an unenthusiastic grumble.

“Very good.  And number two?”

“Be sure that there are others worse off than yourself.”

“Excellent.  Let’s go out there and be on the lookout for those poor souls, shall we?  After all, ‘Gentleness and kind persuasion win where force and bluster fail’.  Be careful walking home!”

———————————-

(Many, many thanks to Google, Wikipedia, and especially Together We Teach for the Aesop assistance.)

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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