Friday, August 10, 2007

ya basta

When I was a kid we had a book of Aesop's fables "retold" for modern times. Which meant they lost all the fragrance of the Greece they were born in[1] and came out feeling like something that happened on the Upper East Side.

Yesterday, as I was spinning once again on my crossroad of options as I near the middle-distance of my life (this is mostly what I do these days), one of the fables startled awake in a far corner of my brain.

It involved a little boy with his hand in a jar of filberts. I had no idea what a filbert was when I was a kid and I never bothered to look it up like my dad encouraged me to, and in all honesty I don't think I could tell you today what a filbert is. (A nut maybe?)

The story played out something like this: the little boy wanted some filberts. He REALLY liked filberts, so he grabbed just as many as his hand could hold.

One problem: the neck of the jar was too tight, and he couldn't get his hand free, so he couldn't get those goddamn filberts out.

He fussed and fumed for awhile, generally feeling sorry for himself, until some wiser person who was a bit more in control of her passions happened by, witnessed the scene, and offered him some advice: "Take fewer filberts, you knucklehead."

He let about half of his filberts go, his hand came free, and he was at last able to enjoy his filberts. Whatever the hell a filbert is.

I hated that story when I was a kid -- I mourned for those lost filberts.

It took me just this long to finally figure out what was going on.



[1] Thank god for Bulfinch, which gave me a richer sense of how the sun-baked thyme on the hillsides carries through the air in Greece and made me want to go there. Or maybe it was Henry Miller. Different sun-baked scent.

(Queuing this up somewhere over the Rockies on Flight 451 inbound to SFO, so you'll have to forgive me for not looking up filberts -- wireless is off.)

6 comments:

A said...

Great story. Can't quite picture how filberts got into Aesop's fables, though. And...

1. Filberts are indeed a nut.

2. The African version of this story is in practice a monkey trap. Take a coconut, some stones and a machete and go looking for a monkey. In full view of him (or her) cut the end off the coconut carefully to make a hole just big enough for a monkey to fit his hand in. Drink the milk (so as not to waste it.) Then while the monkey is watching, drop the stones into the coconut, set it down and walk away. The monkey will come up to it, reach in and grab a stone. But the stone makes his/her fist too big to pull out. The monkey panics and hangs onto the stone and can't escape very well dragging a coconut behind. Then grab monkey.

I never actually did this, but I heard that it works amazingly well.

Michael A. Firman said...

Filberts are hazel nuts, I believe.

And yes, this is a "monkey trap".

Lolabola said...

mmmmn filberts! I love filberts!

but I never call them that, it sounds gross and nerdy

I, Rodius said...

That's how the kid in Where the Red Fern Grows traps racoons, by the way. Puts something shiny inside a little hole, so when the racoon grabs the shiny thing, he can't fit his little fist back out. And apparently, he just won't let go until you turn him into a coon skin hat.

I wonder, was Where the Red Fern Grows just a boy thing, or did girls read it too?

anne said...

Rodius, I am familiar with Where the Red Fern Grows because my 3rd grade teacher read it aloud to our class, once chapter a day, right after lunch. I remember the entire class sobbing at one point -someone or something must have died in the story???

enyasi said...

Sigh I love fables... Filberts are Hazelnuts... but if we did a truly modern telling with you as the heroine, you would tip the glass over and spread the filberts on a table so you could take your pick... Then of course you would photograph it and the picture would be so lovely that Filberts Today would commission it for the cover of their next quarterly.. The moral of the story... (1)you don't have to pick just one opportunity, (2)you can pick from the "opportunity jar as many times as you like" and (3)even the smallest opportunity can lead to big life changing things...

err???The story is about opportunities is it not.. or perhaps you are just really craving nuts... Let me know as I have a killer Hazelnut torte recipe...

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