You may have heard the classic fable, “The Lion and his Three Councillors:”
A lion caught a whiff of his own rancid breath and thought, “Maybe I’m not as kingly as I ought to be. I better check.” He called to a sheep and asked, “Say, does my breath stink?”
“Yes it stinks terribly,” said the sheep. And immediately the lion killed her because she was so rude. The lion then called to a wolf and asked, “Say, does my breath stink?”
“No, not at all. It’s the sweetest breath I ever smelled,” said the wolf. But alas, the lion killed him, too, because he was such a flatterer. Finally the lion called to a fox and asked, “Say, does my breath stink?”
“Sorry, I have a bad cold,” said the fox. “I can’t smell a thing.” And away he trotted–with his life, his wits, and the lion’s breath but a rancid memory.
And the moral is: It is not always wise to share your opinion.
That is a good old tale. But if Aesop were a modern slave to the written word, he might have called his fable, “The Writers’ Group Driver and his Three Passengers:”
Once there were four writers who carpooled to the monthly critique meeting to save on gas money. Every month for months on end, the driver read from a draft horror novel about a cursed iPad that sucked people inside its camera and forced them into nightmarish apps like Pocket God and Temple Run. One month, during a particularly agonizing MahJong scene, the driver caught the sound of snoring coming from his companions. “Maybe my prose isn’t as riveting as it ought to be,” he thought. “I better check.”
On the way home, he asked his peer in the passenger seat, “Does my novel stink?”
“Yes, it stinks terribly,” she said with relief. “You should work on something else.” The driver dropped her off and said, “You can find your own way to the next meeting, meanie.”
He turned to his peer in the rear passenger seat and asked, “Does my novel stink?”
“No, it’s magnificent, really, the best horror novel I’ve ever read,” he said. (The battery on his car had died in the last blizzard and he had no other way of getting to the next meeting.) ”Really?” the driver asked. “Is it better than The Haunting of Hill House? Scarier than The Exorcist?” ”Oh for sure,” said the passenger. “It’s better than those two put together with Dracula thrown in.” ”But you told me you never read Dracula!” the driver shouted (otherwise he’d never have suspected his friend for a flatterer). “Get out, you liar. Find your own way to the next meeting.”
Finally the driver turned to his peer in the seat right behind him and asked, “Does my novel stink?”
“Sorry, I have a nervous disposition,” she said. “I can’t handle horror stories. I have to wear earplugs while you read. Otherwise I’d have nightmares.”
“Really? That’s too bad,” the driver said. “Same time next month?”
And the moral is: Your opinion is not always wanted, even when it’s requested.
And that’s my first Friday Fable of 2013.
Late, I know. I have been sick lately. I am a sickly sort of person, sad to say. While I like to think of myself like this:
I fear I’m really more like this:
Or worse, this:
Oh well, at least it’s only January. And the days are getting longer.
May all your Fridays be fabulous.