The Ant and the Grasshopper and a Little Bean Named Joseph
This is the seventh of the Asop fables, the series originating back in 1993 with an apparent one-off about a wolf and a penguin and the troubles involved crossing a river when there are other people watching. There are, of course, at this point, plans for quite a few additional fables, some of which are listed within the fables themselves. Whether or not this is some cruel Borgesian ploy remains to be seen. The fact remains, there are now seven fables where once there was one, and that one quite naive, and a bit peckish. Peaked, maybe, too. Not looking well at all. Even though it eats like a pig. Lucky bastard.
There once was an ant and a grasshopper who lived within a reasonable enough distance of each other that, barring extreme antisocial tendencies, they would find themselves often in the other's company, so much so that the term 'neighbours' would be aptly applied to their situation. It was a term, however, that seldom occurred to either of the two of them.
Were they to be asked, the two would have extremely different epithets for one another than simply 'neighbour.' The ant, more often than not, would refer to his neighbour, the grasshopper, as 'that crazy bloke who goes out on Tuesday for his weekly five day bender, and sits within moaning distance of his window the remaining two days moaning of his enormous headache.' The grasshopper, meanwhile, being on a bender five days of the week, often wouldn't refer to the ant at all, and spent the other two days moaning, so really hadn't much time for social commentary, as it were. There was also a family of badgers living about a block down the street, but they pretty much kept to themselves, unlike the popular stereotype might suggest. They also, it is suggested, were quite a prejudiced lot, and it was better off that they be little involved in the affairs of the neighbourhood.
One day, the ant happened to be harvesting a rather large crop of beans from his bean fields, and was bringing them in to be cleaned and then cooked up, or put in jars, for the winter. All right, so it wasn't so much beans, as it was only one bean, the ant being, after all, about one third the size of the bean, and not really in need of too much more to subsist for the entire winter, not counting the likelihood that it would get tired sooner or later of having bean all the time. It would also sound quite ridiculous to say the ant was harvesting a rather large crop of bean, though, so plural it was.
The grasshopper, as was his usual routine on Tuesday mornings, was moaning, though obviously nearing the end of moaning, as it had been two days since he came in late one evening, singing an extremely loud, and not altogether pleasing, melody.
The grasshopper, it turned out, had good reason for going on benders for the vast majority of the week, being a speculator in market interests during the times he was relatively sober and able to communicate in some way, if only through clicks and chirps. In fact, he wasn't even really out on benders the vast majority of the time, as he wasn't the majority share-holder in the speculation firm for which he speculated on the fortunes and trends in market value, he just happened to work there. He only appeared to come home from marathon benders because, truth be told, he was exhausted, having worked, speculating endlessly about markets all week, and then popping out to drown his sorrows with a few drinks at the local pub, only to find the drinks getting depressed by his sorrows, though gaining quite a few good tips about which markets looked promising and which ones would make poor investments even though they might seem hopeful, and, in the end, the drinks wound up needing more drinks, then eventually all the drinks and advice would get together and get it in their head that it would be a good idea to begin singing love songs to everyone in the pub, and sooner or later someone a bit more sensible would get it in their head to put an end to all that and throw the grasshopper, advice, and collection of drinks out of the pub, and either on to another one or off home. This, of course, usually took some time before anyone thought to get rid of the entertainment, and the few times the grasshopper found himself with a banjo and tambourine he rarely ever got tossed out, but rather passed out on the floor, and some time after people realised he'd stopped playing they'd carry him out to the bench outside the door of the pub. This was the reason he usually arrived home singing an extremely loud and not altogether pleasing melody.
"That bean looks really heavy, you know."
"I know. Well, eight times my weight, exoskeleton, tireless worker, all that."
"I need some advice."
The ant put down the bean, and leaned it gently against his door.
"I've got this job, you see..."
"You? The one moaning on in there every Monday and Tuesday until you get out to go drinking again every Tuesday evening? Or does that happen to be someone else you've got in there?"
"What kind of job do you have?"
"Well, I'm in speculative markets."
"Speculative markets. I'm a speculator."
"Oh, I see."
"Really, it's quite a good job."
"But I think I want to quit, you see."
"Ehm, well, you know, it's just that I work quite a bit. I honestly do work, and I'm not just out on benders from Tuesday to Sunday, I'm working, for the most part. And it's starting to get me down, I can't do with all this work. It's killing me."
"I just wish I had a deeper voice, something a little sexier, something that says, 'Mmmmm'. Ahh," and the grasshopper let out a great sigh.
"What does that have to do with your job?"
"I don't know, I was thinking it'd be nice to have a deeper voice. Something sexy."
"Haven't you got that chirping bit? Isn't that supposed to be sexy in some sort of grasshopperish way?"
"Well, I don't know, I've always just done it for a lark, you know, 'Hey look, I can rub my legs together and make this really annoying noise' type thing."
The ant turned back to his bean, struggled with trying to pick it up again, toppled a bit and banged into his door a few times, hunched over with the bean in his arms, finally dropped the bean, sidled around the bean to the door, and began fiddling with the knob, which was wedged slightly under the weight of the bean.
"Do you need a hand?"
"No, thank you, I'm fine."
"Yes, sure." The ant nudged the bean off the door knob with his shoulder, turned the knob, and the bean toppled into the ant's house, pushing the door hard against the wall, and effectively blocking all passage. He stood outside the door, staring at the bean.
"All right, because I'm willing to help, if you need it."
The grasshopper slunk back beneath the windowsill, and popped a few aspirin in his mouth and turned on the television at the foot of his bed. You see, the grasshopper really wasn't in speculative markets, nor did he have a job of any sort. The bit about him playing the banjo and tambourine was only partly true, as well, in that he played a banjo and the castanets. It was all a fairly comprehensive lie, partly with some help from the narrator. He did wish he had a deeper voice, but isn't that the way for everyone, though?
And so the ant was left to get the bean into his house, which he couldn't, it having wedged itself firmly in the doorway, and he was forced to crawl over the bean into his house, as he was to do for the next three months, until he finally ate enough of the bean away to get it through the doorway and into his kitchen, but by then it was too late, as the bean had kept the door open all those months and let the cold and the rain and the snow in until the ant's house was no different than the outside, and he was reduced to telling everyone he'd suddenly become a socialist, and ceased to believe in households and property and such, and was making a point by leaving the door open, though that excuse still didn't help him getting visitors over, as who wants to visit someone who's left the door open and can't offer you anything more to sit on than a pile of snow on a chair or a nice cup of really cold tea? It also happened that socialism proved a good deal less popular with his friends than he might have hoped, and those friends who had been socialists grew angry with him for enacting such an obviously poor example that was never going to win anyone over to any sort of cause, "this was the reason you've never seen snow and hypothermia giveaways" when people are trying to get people interested in something.
In the meantime, the grasshopper got on well with the grain he happened to borrow from a chicken friend of his, made a few really good batches of grain alcohol, and never had to leave his house once during the winter, and spent all his time smoking cigarettes and speaking in a husky voice.
The Moral: Don't carry a bean that's larger than your door, as it's bound to get stuck and cause all sorts of social awkwardness, and who needs more social awkwardness than they've already got? No one, that's who.
Also, you'll get very far in life with a deep voice.