Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fables for the 20th Century and Before: The Camel’s Mouth

Over the past several weeks, I've given you an array of modern fables.  Now it's time for something different.  Here's a 100% original fable, but with a moral perhaps slightly less applicable to life today than those from my other parables.

            Thousands of years ago, in a vast desert filled with nothing but sand, there lived a Camel.  He was a happy camel and loved his life, except for one thing:  he had no mouth.  This created several problems for the animal.  For starters, he couldn’t drink water or eat food.  This meant he looked different from the modern camel, mostly because he was missing the animal’s now signature hump.  I’m sure there were other things the Camel couldn’t do without a mouth, but he hadn’t thought of them yet (because he didn’t know the possibilities an oral cavity can bring).
            The Camel belonged to a poor camel herder (my apologies for the redundancy).  The herder let the Camel wander the desert in the day, as long as he returned to the farm at night.  The Camel liked this deal:  it gave him both freedom and security.
            One day, as the Camel was leisurely wandering through the desert, he came across a Mouth.  The Camel started to say “hello,” then remembered he could not talk without some chops.  Instead, he could only look longingly at the Mouth.
            “I see you’re envious of me,” said the Mouth.  “And who wouldn’t be?  I can be used for so many things.  The possibilities are endless.”
            The Camel nodded vigorously.  That was precisely why we wanted a mouth so badly.
            “Well, I have to tell you the truth,” continued the Mouth.  “You see, I have all these neat abilities, but they don’t serve a purpose.  I can drink, but the water doesn’t go to a stomach.  I have so much to say, but I can’t go anywhere to share my thoughts.  Secretly, I’ve always wanted a body.”
            The Camel’s eyes lit up in excitement.  It sounded like they could work out a mutually beneficial agreement.  The Mouth seemed to be thinking the same thing, as evidenced by the big smile on his face, er, mouth.
            “I think we have ourselves a deal!” exclaimed the Mouth.  “I can give you my mouth abilities, and you can provide me with your body capabilities.  Mr. Camel, if you could just sign this contract here…and here…and initial here…Perfect!  We now have a lifelong partnership.”
            The Camel lowered his head toward the sand, and the Mouth hopped on, aligning himself right below the camel’s long snout.  The Camel now had a mouth.
            That night, the Camel returned to the farm for some much needed rest after an exciting day.  Before he fell asleep, he remembered that tomorrow the herder had his six-month dentist appointment in the city, so the Camel would have to bring him there.
            In the morning, the herder approached the Camel (outfitted with his new mouth) and was instantly shocked.
            “What is on your face, Camel?” the herder asked.
            “I have a mouth now,” replied the Camel, much to his surprise, for he had never talked before.
            “Well it looks fabulous,” replied the herder genuinely.  “Let’s get you some water before hitting the road.”
            The Camel gladly drank as much water as he could.  He loved the cool taste of the liquid as it washed through his mouth.  He drank, and drank, and drank.  He drank so much that they water needed someplace to go besides his stomach.  It found the Camel’s back, where the liquid built up until it formed a hump.
            The herder finished packing his things and got on the Camel.
            “I have to say, this hump of yours is a little awkward.”
            “At least I won’t faint halfway to the dentist’s office like I did last year.”
            “Very true.”
            When they arrived at the office, the rich dentist (again, my apologies for the redundancy) came out to meet them.  The dentist was instantly taken aback by the camel’s new appearance.
            “Camel, you look wonderful,” said the dentist.
            “Thank you,” replied the Camel with a humongous grin.  It felt good to smile for the first time, even if his grin looked a little foolish.
            “Herder, I would like to have your Camel,” stated the dentist.
            The herder pondered this request.  He truly liked the Camel, but he also had been receiving free dental appointments for years, purely out of the kindness of the dentist’s heart.  He decided to give the Camel to the dentist as a thank you gift.
            After the herder’s dental checkup, the dentist approached the Camel.
            “Camel, I would like to check out your new mouth to make sure there are no cavities.”
            “I don’t have any cavities,” asserted the Camel angrily.  “My mouth is perfectly clean.”
            “Just a quick check to be sure.”
            The dentist took out two pointy metal instruments and pried the Camel’s mouth open.  Suddenly, the Camel hacked out a large wad of spit, hitting the dentist square in the eye.
Moral of the story:  Don’t look a gift camel in the mouth.

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