Column #372 Mickey the Monkey – a Fable
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Mickey the Monkey – a Fable
Once upon a time there was a monkey. His name was Mickey. He was a dumb monkey but, unlike George Bush, he was not the president of a country.
Mickey the monkey lived in Africa.
The other monkeys ate coconuts. They knew where to find them. They climbed trees to get them. They used rocks to crack them open so they could eat them. Sometimes they even played catch with them for fun. The other monkeys knew lots about coconuts.
But Mickey knew nothing.
One day Mickey got an idea. He decided to write a book about coconuts. He planned to call it Coconuts by Mickey, make many clams, and laze away his days in a fancy home high in a shady tree.
Mickey traveled around the jungle and asked the other monkeys what they knew. He wrote what they told him on palm fronds, made copies, and set up a shop in a clearing on the edge of a small pond where the other monkeys came to drink the cool water and wile away the day with their friends Petunia the pretty parrot and Harlan the hedgehog.
The first day Mickey sold four of his books.
The next day he sold just two.
Sales continued to languish for days. Something was wrong and Mickey began to worry. His dream of a cushy retirement was in jeopardy. Mickey was surrounded by hundreds of his frond tomes but for some reason the monkeys weren’t buying.
Late one afternoon after the monkeys hopped on the vine highway and swung home for supper and just before nighttime enveloped the forest and Latrell the lion began to prowl, Mickey approached Petunia and Harlan…
“Hey guys,” he asked, “by chance have the monkeys told you why they aren’t buying my book?”
“Why certainly,” replied Petunia the parrot, “They think its doody.”
Mickey couldn’t believe his ears.
“That’s right mate,” said Harlan the hedgehog, “Your book is rubbish. You don’t know sod all about coconuts.” (Harlan was originally from Bournemouth.)
“But I asked the other monkeys!” offered an exasperated Mickey. “What am I going to do? I worked hard and invested many clams.”
“Yo! Ax a frickin’ expert ta write da frickin’ book ya dumb frickin’ primate – and den ya jus’ might make som’ frickin’ clams!” roared Latrell the lion as he bounded from the adrenalin grass on the side of the clearing. (Latrell learned English from Dayton Strawbridge.)
“Please don’t eat me!” pleaded Mickey. “Just tell me what to do. I’ll pay!”
“Yo!” said Latrell, “da monkeys, dey’ll dig deep if da book don’t be cheap. Ya’ll jus a dumb monkey. Find ya ass a ‘telligent monkey dat actually know somethin’ ‘bout da coconuts. Get his monkey ass ta do da work. Toss the cat a clam and den keep mos’ da clams for ya own self.”
So Mickey travelled around the jungle again and found Moeshe.
Moeshe was one of the monkey elders. He was a real macher in the monkey community and highly respected. Once he had even been the jungle coconut cracking champion. All the monkeys looked up to Moeshe.
Mickey offered Moeshe a deal. It seemed like a good deal. Moeshe agreed to write down all that he knew in return for one clam for every book that Mickey might eventually sell.
For months, Moeshe slaved away. When he was finished he gave his manuscript to Mickey. Mickey made copies and then set up his little shop again in the clearing. He priced the new book at twenty clams.
What a difference!
Whereas Coconuts by Mickey was a dismal failure sales of Coconuts by Moeshe took off immediately. Mickey sold dozens of Moeshe’s book and dutifully paid him one clam each.
“What a smart monkey I am!” thought Mickey, as he began to make plans for his tree-top retirement retreat.
But Moeshe was smarter. He was much smarter…
Moeshe began to wonder why he, the smart monkey who had all the knowledge and had done all the work, should receive just one clam for each of his books while Mickey the dumb monkey pocketed nineteen clams. It wasn’t fair! It wasn’t right!
So Moeshe went back to work and wrote an entirely new book.
He made copies, set up his own little shop in the clearing right next to Mickey’s stand, and began to sell his new book. He called it Kibitzing about Coconuts with Moeshe and he priced it at thirty clams, fifty percent more than the book Mickey was hawking.
The monkeys and even many of the other animals swarmed Moshe’s shop, ignoring Mickey right next door, and in just days Moeshe’s first printing sold out. Moeshe reprinted again and again.
The rest is history…
Moeshe the smart monkey who knew everything about coconuts lives a life of luxury with Petunia the pretty parrot in a lavish home atop the tallest tree in the forest.
Mickey the dumb monkey who knew nothing about coconuts spent years trying to recover his investment in the stock of his own book and Moeshe’s first book, but failed miserably. He briefly rented a flat in the crook of a tree from Harlan the hedgehog. In the end he was eaten by Latrell the lion – a fate he deserved.
The moral (all fables must have one):
If you plan to write a book about coconuts (or even darts) you damn well better be careful who you take advantage of.
From the Field,
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