Last night, I went to see David Sedaris at Benoroyal Hall in Seattle. It was a good show, very funny. I don’t like to read his work much, but I love to listen to him read it – his delivery is just sublime. Part of the readings for the evening was from a book of “fables” he is putting out, and one that stuck with me was about a Rabbit.
There isn’t a transcript of the tale out there that I can find, so I’ll have to recount the tale from memory (apologies to Mr. Sedaris, whose telling was much funnier than mine is about to be).
Once upon a time, in the forest, there was a series of nasty crimes. A deer was gutted, a muskrat was found with only the head & spine remaining, a squirrel just vanished one day without a trace. So the forest animals held a meeting about these crimes and what to do about it. Many ideas were bandied about until the eagle came down and suggested they build a gate.
Eagle had to describe the concept of a gate, and the animals agreed it was a good idea. Beaver was tasked to build the gate, which he did, complete with an alarm gong fashioned out of an old metal sign, which beaver demonstrated with a thwock of his tail. As the animals admired this gate, Rabbit asked if he could man the gate, since he was very fast, had good eyes, and his ears would let him hear animals approach the gate with ease, and he then picked up a big stick and demonstrated that, he too, could work the gong.
So Rabbit manned the gate, and hung a sign that said, “No Trespassing”.
The first creature to approach the gate was a snake, who, when challenged by Rabbit, laughed at the idea of a gate without a wall. As the snake was laughing and preparing to go around the gate, Rabbit grabbed his big stick and bashed the snakes head in. He then covered up the body of the snake with a little dirt and edited his sign to read:
“No Trespassing, and No Laughing”
A little while later, attracted by the smell of rotting snake, a crow flew down and began to pick at the snake body. While he was snacking, the crow noted the gate, and asked about how the Rabbit planned to guard against aerial assault, since the crow could just fly up & over the gate. The Rabbit stoved in the crow. He then edited his sign to read:
“No Trespassing, No Laughing, and No Stupid Questions”
Rabbit then hung up the bodies of the snake & crow on the fence as a visual warning to others. Blow Flies soon arrived and began buzzing about the bodies, which attracted a nearby frog, who began to feast on the flies. He saw the sign, and, while taking pains to not laugh or ask any stupid questions, commented on the fact that he was planning to hop back to his stream and swim right past the stupid gate and into the forest right after his meal.
After the frog was hung up by the snake & the crow, the sign was edited once again to read:
“No Trespassing, No Laughing, No Stupid Questions, and No Disparaging Comments about the Gate”
By the afternoon, an otter, a fox, and a squirrel had joined the gate and the sign had been edited to read:
“No Trespassing, No Laughing, No Stupid Questions, No Disparaging Comments about the Gate, No Joking, No Smarmy Remarks, and No Nasty Comments About My Ears”
Soon a great Unicorn came by, with a flowing white mane, silver hooves, and a great golden horn. The Unicorn asked for entry past the gate. Rabbit told him to lose the weapon, no running around with great big spears in the forest. The Unicorn protested, declaring that the horn was a part of him, not removable. Rabbit told the Unicorn to leave. The Unicorn went on about how he was here to spread joy & rainbows to all the creatures of the forest. Rabbit was having none of that. Finally the Unicorn had enough and just jumped the gate and headed into the forest, where he proceeded to spread joy & rainbows all over the place.
In the morning, the Unicorn awoke to find the ground in front of him covered in little golden shavings. He felt his head and found his horn had been chewed off. He wailed to Rabbit, why did you do this, that horn was magical. Rabbit just replied, rules are rules, no weapons. The Unicorn, now just a plain horse, slumped away.
Rabbit, looking smug, faced his gate and muttered on about how that horn didn’t taste magical at all. He spit a diamond out onto the ground, and was staring at the fabulous gemstone when the wolves arrived.
Mr. Sedaris went on to relate that he recently bought a vest, the kind you wear over a button-down shirt, but not necessarily with a suit coat & tie. He was at an airport in some smaller city when the TSA agent insisted he remove the vest. He couldn’t refuse her request, but he could make her a rabbit.
When you are flying, and the plane is coming in for a landing, and the flight attendants are walking around with a trash bag, looking at you and saying, “Your Trash.”, you are hearing it wrong.