The Beaver and the Testicles

The Beaver and the Testicles

This fable was originally called “The Beaver and His Testicles”, however, in putting the fable into a modern context, it made more sense to separate the beaver and the testicles at the outset. In our telling of this fable the beaver is a she, not a he. The testicles belong to our protagonist.

We will take the unusual step of presenting the “original” fable, and then follow it with the modern version. We do this because we crave delicious irony, and because the “original” form is so obtuse, and so irrelevant to our time that the reader will likely be scratching their head after reading it.

The Beaver and His Testicles

Gibbs 450, Phaedrus App. 22, Perry 550

It is said that when the beaver is being chased by dogs and realizes that he cannot outrun them, he bites off his testicles, since he knows this is what he is being hunted for. I suppose there is some kind of superhuman understanding that prompts the beaver to act this way, for as soon as the hunter lays his hands on that magical medicine, he abandons the chase and calls off his dogs.

The Moral to the Story: If only people would take the same approach and agree to be deprived of their possessions in order to live lives free from danger; no one, after all, would set a trap for someone already stripped to the skin.

From Aesop’s Fables, A new translation by Laura Gibbs” Oxford World’s Classics 2002

The Beaver and the Testicles

by Rex Latchford, July, 2011

Nick is a handsome young man. Not yet graduated from high school, but this being in the present day, the mating game is well advanced if not near conclusion for most participants at that point in their time. Gone are the days of putting anything off; not hard partying, and certainly not the urge to reproduce. This, of course, applying to males and females alike.

Nick is a privileged young man. His father is in rubber. It’s a very profitable business. So much so that Nick’s first car was a Porche. Nick later downgraded to an Audi when people started to wonder if Nick was a drug dealer. His parents felt it was important for people to understand that his fortune is coming from hardworking forebears rather than illicit activities. After all, wouldn’t a high-quality future mate for Nick want to be certain from the start that his monetary value and status are superior?

Nick has an older brother, Anthony. Anthony is five years older than Nick. After meeting many debutantes, who were all beautiful, Anthony met a girl name Catherine. She was, without doubt, the most beautiful and sexy of the girls he had met. He had been fully entranced by her. Catherine seemed to know exactly what to do, and Anthony had been on cloud nine, happy and in love as a man could be. Anthony and Catherine married, and soon, Catherine was pregnant. Nine months later, Anthony and Catherine became proud parents, and Anthony was, perhaps, happier than ever.

Catherine’s mood changed after the birth of the couple’s baby daughter. At first, Anthony and his family worried it was postpartum depression, but the mood continued, and wasn’t exactly depression. There was no sex. Catherine fought with Anthony without cease. The conflict grew and grew, and Anthony became frustrated. As if waiting for such moments, Catherine expertly manipulated Anthony into rages that would sometimes result in violence. At that point, Catherine would suddenly become calm, pick up the phone, and dial 911. After one or two of these incidents, the resulting arrests and incarcerations, a new family member became visible. It was Catherine’s lawyer, who, it turned out, had been there all along. Divorce was filed for.

Catherine was awarded exclusive custody of the daughter, as well as a handsome judgment for alimony and child support. She moved to a new place known for its beaches and lavish parties. Anthony, subject to an order of protection forbidding him from coming within 100 miles of Catherine or her new, luxurious home, never saw her again (except for the occasional party photo in the celebrity magazines).

Nick had observed all of this, and was determined that what had happened to Anthony would not happen to him. He started driving older economy cars with imperfect paint jobs. He dressed down. He avoided the latest in consumer electronics, giant flat-screen TV’s, and smart-phones. Nick underwent a vasectomy, and was careful not to be tempted into hasty marriage. At first, Nick still had plenty of beautiful and sexy women who would have him as their suitor, if only for his looks. However, after time passed, the beauty and ambition of the women pursuing Nick began to decline. Eventually, the cultured, powdered, and manicured debutantes found new targets. Word of Nick’s vasectomy had gotten out, something Nick had done nothing to prevent. Nick was left with the women who were simply and honestly looking for a good time, with no expectations or sense of entitlement. Many of those women had problems with drugs and alcohol. But, one day Nick found a good-time woman who shared his interests and was clean. They married. Nick had his vasectomy operation reversed. Before long, the couple had two beautiful children and lived happily ever after, living in comfort and tempered luxury, not drawing the attention of scamsters and hungry attack lawyers.


Aesop and the Runaway Slave


This is one of Aesop’s fables. It is well to remember that Aesop was a slave. For technical notes and references, please see the Index page. This fable has been translated and adapted to modern English by Rex Latchford.

Audio is in production and will be added soon!

Aesop and the Runaway Slave

A strip mall in Wynantskill, New York, United ...

Image via Wikipedia

There was a man who worked as an administrative assistant and gofer in an insurance office at the strip mall. He was well educated, in middle age, and of poor physical health. He often complained about his lot. One day, he was sitting on a bench along the walk of the strip mall, hastily eating fast food during the 15 minutes his cruel boss allowed him for lunch. The bright, hot sun beat down on the densely occupied parking lot, causing visible heat waves to rise off the SUVs and passenger trucks. The strip mall walk, however, was shaded and relatively cool except for the occasional gust of petroleum scented hot air from the parking lot. Aesop, who happened to work as a government clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in the strip mall, was on a cigarette break. Aesop spotted the man, who he knew as a neighbor. Aesop walked over to the bench, gestured to the man, and started up a conversation.

“Hey, how’s it going?” asked Aesop.

Park seat

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The man appeared excited to see Aesop. He gulped down his remaining fast food with some diet soda, and wiped his beard with a paper napkin, tossing the wrappers and napkins into a nearby garbage receptacle. He motioned for Aesop to sit down with him on the bench, and carefully wiped his hands on his pants. Aesop lit up another Salem, and smoked and listened while the man spoke.

“Aesop, you’re a smart dude, and you’ve always been straight with me” the man began. “I’ll be straight up, since I know I can trust you with my troubles. I know you’ll keep this on the DL. My job rots. As you know, I have a PhD from Perdue in Clinical Psychology, and another PhD from NYU in Art History, but my boss treats me like a slave and a moron. She sends me out on shopping trips to pick up just about anything you can name: clothes, shoes, cosmetics, office supplies, and items for her kids. She never gives me time or money for expenses like meals or snacks, or gas for my old bomb that’s a gas hog. Then, when I get back and turn over the goods, I’m more than likely to have my head bitten off because she’s in a rage. She chews me out, and works out all her issues and problems on me. If she’s out with a customer or at a meeting, I have to stay late until she returns. If a wealthy customer comes in, she makes me leave because she thinks I don’t dress well enough, and she doesn’t pay me for the time out. I’ve been a loyal employee, though, and she’s never laid me off even when the economy has been down.” the man said.

Cigarette Butts -- IMG_7502

Image by stevendepolo via Flickr

Aesop nodded. He’d already finished the cigarette and lit up another. Just then a woman, the boss, came out of the insurance office. She was smartly dressed in a business suit, and she had short, brown hair, a trim body, and fine features. She gave Aesop a withering look, turned her head, nose in the air, and marched off into the parking lot. She struggled with her high-heels as she climbed into her silver Audi A6 TTS Quattro convertible with a 2.4 liter engine and drove off at high speed.

On the way out of the parking lot, the Audi collided with a beaver-board faded Ford Explorer, laden with a red-faced heavy mother and her six children. Shards of silver-gray plastic spewed in all directions. One of the front wheels of the Explorer fell off and rolled away, crashing into a parked car. The front and rear bumpers clattered to the ground. The hood of the Explorer popped open and steam came pouring out with a great hissing sound. The Explorer came to its knees as the air whooshed out of the remaining front tire. Bits of safety glass scattered about the scene from the two broken windows and windshield of the Ford, peppering the pool of oil expanding out from under the engine compartment. The boss climbed out of the Audi, confronted the Explorer mom and began to scream in shrill tones. The mom’s head hug low and her shoulders slumped as she recognized the woman with whom she had taken out automobile insurance several weeks earlier. Her children spilled out of the Explorer and surrounded her, filling the mall with the sound of their wailing voices. The mom dialed 911 on her cell phone, and soon the wailing of the children was joined by the wailing sirens of police, ambulance, and fire trucks. A motorcycle cop arrived on the scene as the boss continued to scream at the mom.

The boss now turned to the motorcycle cop, put her hands on her hips, and resumed screaming, occasionally gesticulating and pointing at the mom. The motorcycle cop kept his helmet on, and wrote furiously, handing the boss small yellow pieces of paper as fast as he could fill them out. A fire brigade arrived. The Fire Marshall surveyed the scene, carefully determined that there was no fire, and nothing to squabble over with the motorcycle cop. He and his brigade dejectedly got back in their trucks and returned to the bar. The ambulance came and went without incident.

Aesop looked over to the Department of Motor Vehicles office and smiled a crooked smile. He offered a cigarette to the man, who eagerly took it, lit it up, and continued on.

“I feel like a douche. I should have earned bigger raises and a promotion by now, but my hair’s gone gray and I’m still slaving away. If I had done anything to deserve this, I’d stop complaining and suffer my fate in silence. I haven’t done anything wrong, and I’ve been a loyal employee even if I do show up late sometimes with a hangover, and I don’t always wear clothes fresh out of the dryer. But the fact is that the pay sucks and the boss is abusive. For all those reasons,  along with plenty more it would take too long to tell you, I’ve decided to bust out and hit the road. Whatever.” The man stopped, looked at Aesop, and then looked at his feet, working on the smoke, and waiting for Aesop’s reply.

“Well,” said Aesop, taking a long drag and exhaling slowly, “listen to what I say: if you must endure such hardship without having done anything wrong, as you say, then what is going to happen to you when you abandon your job and really are guilty of something?”

There was a long silence. The man appeared to be studying a glob of chewing gum which had been ground into the cement walk. Aesop lit up another cigarette, and checked the time on his cell phone. The man sighed, heaved his chest and stood up. Aesop did the same.


Image via Wikipedia

“I guess you’re right Aesop. You’re always thoughtful and helpful. You’re a stand-up dude. I guess I’d better be getting back to work. Later I’m going to have to pick up some feminine hygiene products for the boss at the discount big-box pharmacy.  Maybe I don’t have it so bad after-all. It’ll be another full month before she has PMS again.” He paused, stubbing out the cigarette and wiping his hands on his pants. “I’ll get you a pack of Salems, and thanks for the advice.”

Make an Appointment for a Motor Vehicle Accident?

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The man shook Aesop’s hand. Without looking up, he turned and shambled through the door of the insurance agency. Aesop took another drag on the cigarette. He looked up, and stared beyond the parking lot as if looking far into the distance, perhaps into outer-space. Then he shook his head, stubbed out the butt, and headed back to the DMV where there would surely be a line of people waiting for him to dispense his wisdom and process their paperwork.


The Moral to the Story

“If you take advice from a slave, you are likely to remain a slave yourself.”

NOTE: There is a promythium appended to the fable in Perotti’s Appendix: “The fable shows that you should not add one problem to another.”

What the Old Man Does is Always Right


This is a fable by Hans Christian Anderson. I’ve kept the text intact, however, the audio version has been rephrased into more modern English to make it easier to understand. My recommendation is to read along as I tell the story; to learn something about old English.

What the Old Man Does is Always Right

I will tell you a story that was told me when I was a little boy. Every time I thought of this story, it seemed to me more and more charming; for it is with stories as it is with many people- they become better as they grow older.

I have no doubt that you have been in the country, and seen a very old farmhouse, with a thatched roof, and mosses and small plants growing wild upon it. There is a stork’s nest
on the ridge of the gable, for we cannot do without the stork. The walls of the house are sloping, and the windows are low, and only one of the latter is made to open. The baking-oven sticks out of the wall like a great knob. An elder-tree hangs over the palings; and beneath its branches, at the foot of the paling, is a pool of water, in which a few ducks are disporting themselves. There is a yard-dog too, who barks at all corners. Just such a farmhouse as this stood in a country lane; and in it dwelt an old couple, a peasant and his wife.

White horse in field

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Small as their possessions were, they had one article they could not do without, and that was a horse, which contrived to live upon the grass which it found by the side of the high
road. The old peasant rode into the town upon this horse, and his neighbors often borrowed it of him, and paid for the loan of it by rendering some service to the old couple. After a time they thought it would be as well to sell the horse, or exchange it for something which might be more useful to them. But what might this something be?

“You’ll know best, old man,” said the wife. “It is fair-day to-day; so ride into town, and get rid of the horse for money, or make a good exchange; whichever you do will be
right to me, so ride to the fair.”

And she fastened his neckerchief for him; for she could do that better than he could, and she could also tie it very prettily in a double bow. She also smoothed his hat round and
round with the palm of her hand, and gave him a kiss. Then he rode away upon the horse that was to be sold or bartered for something else. Yes, the old man knew what he was about. The sun shone with great heat, and not a cloud was to be seen in the sky. The road was very dusty; for a number of people, all going to the fair, were driving, riding, or walking upon it. There was no shelter anywhere from the hot sunshine. Among the rest a man came trudging along, and driving a cow to the fair. The cow was as beautiful a creature as any cow could be.

Cow Oostvaardersplassen

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“She gives good milk, I am certain,” said the peasant to himself. “That would be a very good exchange: the cow for the horse. Hallo there! you with the cow,” he said. “I tell you what; I dare say a horse is of more value than a cow; but I don’t care for that,- a cow will be more useful to me; so, if you like, we’ll exchange.”

“To be sure I will,” said the man.

Accordingly the exchange was made; and as the matter was settled, the peasant might have turned back; for he had done the business he came to do. But, having made up his mind to go to the fair, he determined to do so, if only to have a look at it; so on he went to the town with his cow. Leading the animal, he strode on sturdily, and, after a short time, overtook a man who was driving a sheep. It was a good fat sheep, with a fine fleece on its back.

Lamb, Sheep

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“I should like to have that fellow,” said the peasant to himself. “There is plenty of grass for him by our palings, and in the winter we could keep him in the room with us. Perhaps
it would be more profitable to have a sheep than a cow. Shall I exchange?”

The man with the sheep was quite ready, and the bargain was quickly made. And then our peasant continued his way on the high-road with his sheep. Soon after this, he overtook another man, who had come into the road from a field, and was carrying a large goose under his arm.


Image by nic_r via Flickr

“What a heavy creature you have there!” said the peasant; “it has plenty of feathers and plenty of fat, and would look well tied to a string, or paddling in the water at our place. That would be very useful to my old woman; she could make all sorts of profits out of it. How often she has said, ‘If now we only had a goose!’ Now here is an opportunity, and, if possible, I will get it for her. Shall we exchange? I will give you my sheep for your goose, and thanks into the bargain.”



The other had not the least objection, and accordingly the exchange was made, and our peasant became possessor of the goose. By this time he had arrived very near the town. The crowd on the high road had been gradually increasing, and there was quite a rush of men and cattle. The cattle walked on the path and by the palings, and at the turnpike-gate they even walked into the toll-keeper’s potato-field, where one fowl was strutting about with a string tied to its leg, for fear it should take fright at the crowd, and run away and get lost. The tail-feathers of the fowl were very short, and it winked with both its eyes, and looked very cunning, as it said “Cluck, cluck.” What were the thoughts of the fowl as it said this I cannot tell you; but directly our good man saw it, he thought, “Why that’s the finest fowl I ever saw in my life; it’s finer than our parson’s brood hen, upon my word. I should like to have that fowl. Fowls can always pick up a few grains that lie about, and almost keep themselves. I think it would be a good exchange if I could get it for my goose. Shall we exchange?” he asked the toll-keeper.

my sussex chicken

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“Exchange,” repeated the man; “well, it would not be a bad thing.”

And so they made an exchange, the toll-keeper at the turnpike-gate kept the goose, and the peasant carried off the fowl. Now he had really done a great deal of business on his
way to the fair, and he was hot and tired. He wanted something to eat, and a glass of ale to refresh himself; so he turned his steps to an inn. He was just about to enter when the ostler came out, and they met at the door. The ostler was carrying a sack. “What have you in that sack?” asked the peasant.

“Rotten apples,” answered the ostler; “a whole sackful of them. They will do to feed the pigs with.”

one rotten apple

“Why that will be terrible waste,” he replied; “I should like to take them home to my old woman. Last year the old apple-tree by the grass-plot only bore one apple, and we kept
it in the cupboard till it was quite withered and rotten. It was always property, my old woman said; and here she would see a great deal of property- a whole sackful; I should like to show them to her.”
“What will you give me for the sackful?” asked the ostler.

“What will I give? Well, I will give you my fowl in exchange.”

So he gave up the fowl, and received the apples, which he carried into the inn parlor. He leaned the sack carefully against the stove, and then went to the table. But the stove
was hot, and he had not thought of that. Many guests were present- horse dealers, cattle drovers, and two Englishmen. The Englishmen were so rich that their pockets quite bulged out and seemed ready to burst; and they could bet too, as you shall hear. “Hiss-s-s, hiss-s-s.” What could that be by the stove? The apples were beginning to roast. “What is that?” asked one.

“Why, do you know”- said our peasant. And then he told them the whole story of the horse, which he had exchanged for a cow, and all the rest of it, down to the apples.

“Well, your old woman will give it you well when you get home,” said one of the Englishmen. “Won’t there be a noise?”

“What! Give me what?” said the peasant. “Why, she will kiss me, and say, ‘what the old man does is always right.'”

“Let us lay a wager on it,” said the Englishmen. “We’ll wager you a ton of coined gold, a hundred pounds to the hundred-weight.”

“No; a bushel will be enough,” replied the peasant. “I can only set a bushel of apples against it, and I’ll throw myself and my old woman into the bargain; that will pile up the
measure, I fancy.”

“Done! taken!” and so the bet was made.

Then the landlord’s coach came to the door, and the two Englishmen and the peasant got in, and away they drove, and soon arrived and stopped at the peasant’s hut. “Good evening, old woman.” “Good evening, old man.” “I’ve made the exchange.”

“Ah, well, you understand what you’re about,” said the woman. Then she embraced him, and paid no attention to the strangers, nor did she notice the sack.

“I got a cow in exchange for the horse.”

“Thank Heaven,” said she. “Now we shall have plenty of
milk, and butter, and cheese on the table. That was a capital

“Yes, but I changed the cow for a sheep.”

“Ah, better still!” cried the wife. “You always think of everything; we have just enough pasture for a sheep. Ewe’s milk and cheese, woollen jackets and stockings! The cow could
not give all these, and her hair only falls off. How you think of everything!”

“But I changed away the sheep for a goose.”

“Then we shall have roast goose to eat this year. You dear old man, you are always thinking of something to please me. This is delightful. We can let the goose walk about with a string tied to her leg, so she will be fatter still before we roast her.”

“But I gave away the goose for a fowl.”

“A fowl! Well, that was a good exchange,” replied the woman. “The fowl will lay eggs and hatch them, and we shall have chickens; we shall soon have a poultry-yard. Oh, this is
just what I was wishing for.”

“Yes, but I exchanged the fowl for a sack of shrivelled apples.”

“What! I really must give you a kiss for that!” exclaimed the wife. “My dear, good husband, now I’ll tell you something. Do you know, almost as soon as you left me this morning, I began to think of what I could give you nice for supper this evening, and then I thought of fried eggs and bacon, with sweet herbs; I had eggs and bacon, but I wanted the herbs; so I went over to the schoolmaster’s: I knew they had plenty of herbs, but the schoolmistress is very mean, although she can smile so sweetly. I begged her to lend me a handful of herbs. ‘Lend!’ she exclaimed, ‘I have nothing to lend; nothing at all grows in our garden, not even a shrivelled apple; I could not even lend you a shrivelled apple, my dear woman. But now I can lend her ten, or a whole sackful, which I’m very glad of; it makes me laugh to think about it;” and then she gave him a hearty kiss.

Fishpool gold coins

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“Well, I like all this,” said both the Englishmen; “always going down the hill, and yet always merry; it’s worth the money to see it.” So they paid a hundred-weight of gold to the peasant, who, whatever he did, was not scolded but kissed.

Yes, it always pays best when the wife sees and maintains that her husband knows best, and whatever he does is right.

That is a story which I heard when I was a child; and now you have heard it too, and know that “What the old man does is always right.”