Posts Tagged "story"

Paul Bunyan | American Lumberjack (Part 1)

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, babies were brought to their families by a stork. Then Paul Bunyan was born, and it took 5 supersized storks to carry him. After that the storks went on strike and babies were delivered by Uber.

Baby Bunyan continued to be bigger than big. He ate fifty eggs and 10 containers of potatoes every day. After a year or two of that, the chickens went on strike. Paul Bunyan was not known for being well-liked in the avian community.

Not only was Paul bigger than big, he was stronger than strong and faster than fast. He was so fast he could turn off the light and jump into bed before the room got dark.

That’s what lumberjacks do: cut down trees and wear plaid. DearKidLoveMom.comPaul spent most of the time cutting down trees because he was a lumberjack and that’s what lumberjacks do: cut down trees and wear plaid.

One day, it started to snow. Not just snow, blue snow. Paul thought blue snow was pretty nifty and went for a walk in the blue snow. On his walk, he found a baby ox stuck in the snow. Paul did the only reasonable thing to do in blue snow and took the ox home. (Well, come on, what would you do if you found an ox in blue snow?)

Once the baby ox warmed up, he was still blue. So Paul named him Babe (because he hoped the ox would play baseball once it was invented) and they became BFFs.

Babe grew bigger than big very quickly. One night, Babe went to sleep in the barn with the other farm animals. The next morning, Paul found Babe calmly eating breakfast in the next valley over. Babe had grown so much overnight that he’d walked to the valley with the barn and all the animals on his back.

At that point Paul’s parents decided things had gone far enough (who needs a mobile barn?) and told Paul to take Babe and go become a tall tale. And being a good kid (and a good ox), off they went.

Paul Bunyan could chop down a forest with a single stroke of his axe, and Babe worked right along with him.

One time, there was a road that was too twisty for the lumberjacks to easily remove the cut trees. So Paul tied one end of the road around a tree stump and gave the other end of the road to Babe. Babe pulled with all his strength and straightened out the road. Rumor is he pulled out all the potholes too.

Tomorrow: The Absolutely True Tall Tales

Love, Mom

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The History of Toasts. It’s Not What You Think.

Dear Kid,

There’s a fun infographic making the social media rounds showing how to say “Cheers” in 20 different languages. You can see it here.

This of course raises the question as to why people say “cheers” in the first place. The obvious answer is so that a hit sitcom would have a name.

The history of toasts. It's not what you think. DearKidLoveMom.comBut—being the kind of mom I am—I decided to dig deeper. (And by “dig” I of course mean invent.)

Once upon a time, there were no toasts. When people wanted to drink, they picked up their cup (or gourd) and sipped.

Very original, independent types they were.

Then two brothers decided to go out for a drink.

An hour later they came home, bloody and bruised and generally in rough shape.

“What happened to you two?!” cried Momma who was crying more because she’d lost her evening of quiet than at the site of her damaged children.

“He started it!” the boys bellowed in unison. (You know what comes next, right?)

“And I’m going to end it!” Momma declared. “You,” she pointed, “sit there. And you,” again with the point, “there. Do. Not. Move.”

Momma was a many times descendant of Mrs. Joe Neanderthal and still had a great deal of her mothering mojo.

The boys sat. There was no question but that they’d sit until they were told (by Momma herself) that there was another alternative.

Momma then marched down to the corner pub the way a hurricane marches toward land. She went straight up to the bartender (who had the misfortune not to be descended from Mrs. J. N.), stared him straight in the eye with a look that simultaneously burned off his eyebrows and froze his innards (this was back in the day when everything you kept inside your skin was referred to as “innards”).

“What,” asked Momma in a voice that was not to be ignored, “happened?”

The bartender was a great devotee of the three big truths about bartending. 1. Wear comfortable shoes. 2. Keep the tips. 3. If you find yourself in a situation where you won’t be tipped, get out as politely as possible and go find more generous patrons.

The bartender’s shoes were tightening under Momma’s stare.

“The boys came in,” he said, starting with the obvious. The Look on Momma’s face suggested that she was not interested in the obvious or in the status of his footwear.

“They ordered a drink. I delivered the first one and went back to make the second. I guess one boy started drinking before the other and they started fighting.”

Momma leaned over the bar so that she was very close to the bartender. The bartender didn’t care for that but was smart enough not to object.

“Let me get this straight,” said Momma. “You were dumb enough not to serve them at the exact same time?”

The bartender squirmed. Momma glared. The bartender squirmed some more and wished that one of the other patrons would develop a need for a refill. All the patrons knew their refill orders would wait happily until Momma was done. The bartender, having found that squirming was all he could do, did it again.

Momma gave him one last glare that Said It All (none of which was printable), turned on her heel, and left.

On her way home, Momma thought. This was not in fact her strong suit. She was much better at glaring. But occasionally thought was required and this was one of those occasions.

When she got home, she found the boys just as she’d left them.

She was not surprised.

“Boys,” she said to them. “It was not your fault.”

While they boys each believed that, neither had expected to hear their mother say it.

“It’s the toast.”

This confused them. Momma went on.

“In this part of the world,” explained Momma, “the toast demands parity. The toast demands equality. The toast,” summarized Momma, “requires Words.”

Momma may have summarized, but the boys had no idea what she was talking about.

“When you go to have a drink,” Momma clarified, “you must raise your glasses at the same time and say ‘Toast’. Then the toast will be satisfied and you won’t feel the need to fight. But you must do it at the same time.”

This made about as much sense as the boys could hope for and they immediately went to the corner pub to practice.

Early toasts involved a lot of spilled beverage which is why the industry encouraged them.

It’s all about the industry.

And now you know.

Love, Mom

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What Is the Gordian Knot?

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time the Phrygians didn’t have a king. Very careless, forgetting where you put your king. So they did the only reasonable thing and consulted the Oracle at Telmissus. The oracle decreed that the next man to enter the city driving an ox-cart should be crowned king.

What have we said about ignoring oracles? Right. So when Gordias the Peasant came into the city driving his ox-cart, the people immediately made him Gordias the King.

Since kings rarely have need of an ox-cart, Gordias dedicated his cart to Zeus and tied it to a pole with the World’s Most Complicated Knot.

The Gordian Knot was slightly more complicated than this. DearKidLoveMom.comThe oracle then predicted that whoever Undid the Knot would rule all of Asia. Since oracles are always (emphasis on ALWAYS) right, many a person came to try to untie it. This was great for tourism and nail salons (it was not possible to untie the Knot and many people broke important fingernails trying).

On and on this went and everyone was reasonably happy with the status quo except all the people who didn’t untie the knot. Although since no one else could untie it, and there were plenty of manicurists, no one got too futzed.

Eventually (historians disagree about how many years are in an “eventually”), young Alexander the Great came to Phrygia. A the G was The Dude of the time and planned to conquer pretty much everywhere (Asia Minor is most definitely part of “everywhere”). Alex took a look at the Knot, realized the ends were missing, re-read the plaque (all tourist sites have plaques), and then took out his sword and sliced the knot in half.

Alexander the Great went on to conquer Asia Minor. Because, oracle. Also, he was a really incredible battle strategist.

To this day, Gordian Knot refers to a complex problem, and cutting the Gordian Knot means finding a ridiculously simple solution to a crazy looking problem.

Love, Mom

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Holiday Music, Orpheus and Eurydice

Dear Kid,

Happy Music Time of Year! Holidays and Orpheus DearKidLoveMom.comJust in case you hadn’t been paying attention, it is a musical time of year. More than any other time of year, the whole world (and by “the whole world” I mean everywhere I go) is playing holiday music. As long as they avoid the singing chipmunks (yes, I know there’s a new movie, and no, I don’t plan to go see it) and the barking dogs, I’m pretty happy with holiday music.

Speaking of musicians (I wasn’t really, but it would be polite of you not to bother pointing that out), Once Upon A Time, there was a musician named Orpheus. He was a Greek and famous (you can tell he was Greek because of the “pheus” and you can tell he was famous because I’m talking about him lo these many years later).

Orpheus was the greatest of all mortal musicians (remember, dearest, that one doesn’t want to boast about being better at anything than the gods). Not only did people stop whatever they were doing to listen to him, animals did as well. Even the rivers stopped running and the rocks stopped rocking to sit still and listen when Orpheus sang.

Orpheus sailed on the Argo, and performed all sorts of musical magic on that voyage, but that’s not today’s story.

Eventually, Orpheus fell in love with Eurydice (she was a wood nymph but Orpheus was in love and didn’t care about her habit of being part tree), and Orpheus and Eurydice decided to get married.

On their wedding day (either right before or right after depending on which version you read), Eurydice was bitten by a viper (ouch) and died. But Orpheus was in love and didn’t care about her habit of being dead, so he decided to go to the underworld and get back his bride.

Taking his lyre (he was a most extraordinary musician you will remember), Orpheus set out for the underworld.

What I don’t understand is how all these heroes managed to find the underworld. It’s not like they had GPS back then. And there weren’t a lot of signs saying “This Way to the Underworld” like there would have been if the entrance to Hades was in Las Vegas.

Back to our story. While he was wandering around, Orpheus the Brokenhearted was playing sad, sad music. So sad that the gods got together and said “This is worse than barking dogs Christmas carols! Someone show him the entrance to Hades!”

Down to the underworld went Orpheus. At every obstacle, he played his lyre and sang beautifully and charmed the pants off his way through. Eventually, he got to Hades and his wife Persephone (it was that time of year and she was in residence). Orpheus played for them and they agreed that he could take Eurydice back to the Land of the Living.

But (you knew there had to be a “but” right? This is Greek mythology and happily ever afters aren’t in huge supply). But there was a condition. Eurydice would follow Orpheus on the long and treacherous hike back up, BUT he must not look back at her along the way. Not even once. Not even a tiny peek. No matter how much he wanted to. No peeking at all.

This seemed like a no brainer to Orpheus mostly because he didn’t have a choice. Off he set, playing his lyre to keep the scary things away and to let Eurydice know where to follow.

Have you ever been told not to do something? Have you ever been told not to do something that is the One Thing In the World, Nay, the Universe that you want to do more than anything else? It’s hard not to do. It gets harder the longer you have to refrain from doing it. It gets even harder if you don’t really trust the people who told you not to do the Thing. Orpheus was having a hard time.

He strained to hear Eurydice behind him. He heard nothing (mostly because shades don’t make any sound when they walk) and partly because he had to keep playing. Orpheus kept walking.

He really, really, really wanted to look back and make sure Eurydice was there. But he didn’t dare because he knew he would lose her forever if he so much as peeked. Orpheus was having a Really Tough Day.

Finally, finally Orpheus reached the entrance (or in this case the exit) to the underworld and stepped out into the glorious sunshine. (Trust me. If you’ve been to the underworld, even a gloomy day will seem like glorious sunshine.)

As soon as he stepped out, Orpheus spun around to see Eurydice. BUT (you knew there was a “but” right?) she was still on the path in the cave. He had turned too soon, and no sooner had he seen her when—whoosh—away she faded, murmuring “farewell.”

Orpheus (of course) tried to rush after her and (of course) was not allowed to (one trip to the underworld per live musician).

Life pretty much went downhill for Orpheus from there. He wandered around the world (and by “the world” I mean ancient Greece) avoiding people and playing for the animals, trees, and rocks. This was wonderful for the animals, trees, and rocks, but rocks are rarely asked their opinion and almost never listen to when they give it. Which makes them perfectly qualified to be music critics.

Eventually, the Maenads ripped him limb from limb. His head went on to be an oracle and the Muses buried his body at the base of Olympus where—to this day—the nightingales sing more sweetly than anywhere else.

If you happen to be traveling by the base of Mount Olympus, be sure to stop and listen to the nightingales.

In the meantime, hope you hear good music today.

Love, Mom



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Facts You’ve Never Heard About Bigfoot

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as Bigfoot. Then one night Joe Neanderthal was inspired to tell a bedtime story based on his teenage son’s sneakers. The Bigfoot story became one of the Neanderthals’ favorites, and a legend was born.

In the original version, Bigfoot’s name was a result of not being able to find sneakers in an appropriate size. You have to remember that this was in the olden days before basketball players and Nike were invented.

In order to keep his children entertained, Joe sometimes changed the name of the character to things like Sasquatch and Yeti. But since he was a Neanderthal and his kids were Neanderthals that’s all he had to change in order to make them think it was an entirely new story.

If you were to check with My Good Friend The Internet, you’d find that people have been arguing about whether Bigfoot is “real” for a squillion years. Of course, arguing about Bigfoot being “real” is as silly as arguing about whether Winnie-the-Pooh is real. Duh.

Like all good stories, the tale of Bigfoot has been handed (or footed if you prefer) down over the years. Because of the Polar Vortex (seems like as good a reason as any), the People of the NorthWest seem to have taken the story a little more to heart than people in other places. There have been more searchings there than elsewhere, but what these people fail to realize is they’re just looking for a really good bedtime story. Personally, I recommend Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book. And King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub.

Over the years there have been sightings, footprints, blurry pictures, and more sightings of Bigfoot. Some have speculated that during the offseason Santa likes to dress up in really big gorilla costumes. I think it’s more likely the elves are playing tricks on Santa, but as I’ve said before I’m still waiting to meet some great elves.

Through the years, the story has varied a little, but make no mistake—Bigfoot was invented by Joe as a way to get his children to go to sleep.


Love, Mom

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