23 January 2011

The Grasshopper and the American Ants

There was once a Grasshopper who was possessed of the great gift of music. All through the warm summer months, and through the fall harvest, he played his merry songs for the ants who lived nearby. He played and played, while they worked and worked, gathering food and storing it.

Soon, winter’s chill fell upon the land, and the Grasshopper grew cold and hungry. Shivering, he went to the Ants and said, “Friends, I am in need! Will you please give me a portion of the food we have gathered, and a warm space where I might shelter myself from the wintry nights?”

“No damned way,” said the Ants. “We are eliminating government funding for the arts.”

“Come again?” said the astonished Grasshopper.

“Your music is non-essential, and in tough times, we must look first to our most important and immediate needs,” said the foreman of the ants, Number 6279-R, a big fellow with a broad, brown back.

“Non-essential?” the Grasshopper replied. “Do you honestly believe that you could have achieved the same results, had it not been for me? By playing my music while you worked, I eased your burdens. I helped you connect with your minds — and your souls — so that you didn’t turn into mindless drones, like those awful bees next door. I even played Katy Perry numbers for you morons!”

“What a giveaway! You’re an elitist!” exclaimed the crowd of ants, as if with one voice — but harmonizing, because the Grasshopper had trained them in choral music back in August.

“It’s true, he does know some catchy songs,” murmured one of the younger ants, Number 9762-W.

“Shut up,” answered his friend, Ant 5371-N.

“I spent years learning how to make music, and I paid almost everything I had, in order to take lessons to be an even better musician,” the Grasshopper went on. “And I had to take private lessons, because you already eliminated music education in public schools.”

“You should have studied accounting, too,” said Ant 4387-B. “As a backup.”

“Let private individuals give you food, if they are so inclined,” said the Ant Queen.

“Those other ants over by the hedge have got lots of funds,” suggested Ant 7321-P.

“It’s a freaking ant colony!” the Grasshopper cried. “We all rely on one another, whether you admit it or not.”

“Socialist,” grumbled Ant 6279-R.

“And if not for my art,” the Grasshopper continued, “you wouldn’t even know you were individuals!”

“You made your choices in life,” said wise old Ant 2198-A. “You were selfish and irresponsible, and now it is time to pay the price.”

“Selfish?” the Grasshopper said. He had begun to weep like the Drama Queen he so proudly was. “I was doing it all for you!”

“You can tell yourself that,” replied the Ant Queen. Then, turning to her guards, she said, “Throw out this malingerer! I am weary of him.”

And so the Grasshopper went out and got a job with a nest of spiders who specialized in web design, and he never played music again; one by one, the Ants were crushed the next day by a sadistic five-year-old human.


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