Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What's In A Frog?

This is a story about two brave men: Ion and Gheo (short for Gheorghe, but I thought of sparing the non-native speakers). They are two Romanian peasants living in a remote village, working the land and rearing animals, pretty much copy-pasting their life from one day to another. Until that day, when Ion decided it was the time to go to the livestock market to sell his cow. 

And, as he couldn't go alone, he asked his neighbour Gheo, who had nothing worth mentioning to do that day, to come along. The business was bad, however, and at the end of the day they came back home, carrying the poor cow with them, as they could not sell it. And because of this, the conversation between them two was somehow low, even for the peasants expectations.

"You know", Ion began the to break the silence, "what if we were, for instance, some Scottish peasants, not Romanians? What would we talk about?" 

"That's an admirably good question, indeed. We'd probably talk about whiskey, cattle, sheep, wellies, bagpipes...". 

"You're as sharp as a brick, you know? And also brought me bad luck, that's why I still have the cow tethered to my belt. Listen to you! Whiskey, wellies. I should have travelled alone. See that field of rye over there? Wouldn't you want a nice woman coming to you through that field? And if she would, what would she symbolise to you"

"Aaah, you mean like the woman of Robert Burns? The one comin' thro' the rye? Nay, I wouldn't like it, she'd  bring just bad omen. Much more than me to you!"

 "Would you elaborate or do you expect me to unravel this subtle mystery?"

"Well, that woman probably inspired Burns, who in turn inspired Salinger, who wrote the Catcher in the Rye, which became the favourite book of Mark Chapman, who identified himself with Holden, the hero of the book, you know, who tried to save the world from the phonies, and shot John Lennon to death. Imagine!"

"That's quite a chain of possible events, never would have thought of it", concluded Ion and with a sullen mien he ceased to utter a word for the next hour. 

One hour later, they came across a frog. A dead frog, that had already began to rot here and there. Ion, still upset for the unrealised business, but even more for the indestructible logic of Gheo, launched the challenge:

"You know, Gheo! See that frog over there? If you eat it, I'll give you the cow"

Much repulsed by the carrion at his feet, but with the promising idea of owning a cow quite of out of the blue, Gheo accepted. And he started to eat the dead frog. It was not the very best meal he'd had by then, but he got used to it somehow. 

In the meanwhile, Ion got very alarmed. He didn't think the crazy guy would accept the wager, but suddenly he was on the brink to come home not only without money, but also without a cow. And the fucker was already half through the dead frog. He had to think fast.

"Gheo, listen, wait! I have another proposition to you. What if I eat the rest of the frog and I get to keep the cow?"

"Hmm", Gheo thought for himself, "I don't think I could hold it much longer. That frog is not that fresh, to say the least. I'll lose the cow, but what the heck, I won't die at least". And he continued out loud "That's fine, you may have the second half"

Ion finished the frog and they continued to their houses, silently. Just before going inside, John spoke:

"You know Gheo, why did we eat that frog in the end?"

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