Aesop’s Masquerade Ball

Once there was a bird who got so lost that it didn’t know that it was a bird.  And this bird came upon a nice lake and found a tree by the lake with a low-lying branch to rest on.  As the bird perched there, a fish swam by who had traveled so far from the mountains that it had forgotten that it was a fish.  

When the fish swam by the branch, it saw the branch move.  So the fish swam back to look again.  And the bird saw the lake move and saw that it had a mouth and eyes.  So the bird stared at the fish and the fish at the bird.  The fish asked the bird if it was a part of the tree.  And the bird asked the fish if it was a part of the lake.  

Some other birds came and landed on the tree and asked the bird why it was talking to a fish. And some other fish swam by and asked why the fish was talking to a bird. The bird asked the others what a bird was and the fish asked the others what a fish was. The other birds told the bird it wasn’t a fish and the other fish told the fish it wasn’t a bird so that they’d stop talking to each other. Then the others flew and swam away.

The bird said “I guess I’m not a fish.”

The fish said “I suppose I’m not a bird.”

So the bird asked the fish what makes a fish a fish.  And the fish said a fish is a fish because it swims in the water.  And the fish asked the bird what makes a bird a bird.  And the bird said a bird is a bird because it flies in the air.  And both asked each other to prove it.  The bird flew in the air.  The fish swam in the water.  

But the bird said that it could swim too.  And the fish said that it could also fly.  And so the bird dove into the water and swam and the fish jumped over the bird and flew through the air.  So they said that sometimes a bird can be a fish and a fish a bird.  

And then a bug flew by who had gotten so lost that the bug had forgotten what it was and the bug asked the bird and the fish and they both said they knew exactly what it was, food.  And they ate the bug.  Then the bird told the fish that it wished it were a fish.  And the fish too wished that it were a bird.  The other birds came back and asked the bird if it had figured out who it was and it said it was sometimes a bird and sometimes a fish.  The other birds laughed and flew away again.  The other fish swam back, too, and asked the fish who it was and it said sometimes a fish and sometimes a bird.  And they laughed and swam away.  

Then the brother of the bug they ate came by and wanted revenge so it told them that they were what they ate and escaped before they could eat it.  

The bird asked the fish and the fish asked the bird if they were in fact bugs. And when the other birds and fish were coming back, they buzzed off together convinced that they were indeed bugs being hunted by the other birds and fish.

Since they were bugs now, they refused to eat their own kind so they starved and without food they became lightheaded. When they witnessed the sun rise on their last day, they believed that they had become reflections of that light dancing on the water and did not notice that they left their bodies behind.

A Blind Duel

Once there was an old man who thought he was young and there was a young man who thought he was old.  The old young man challenged the young old man to prove who was the youngest and who was the oldest of all. 

They agreed to hold three competitions. One to see who could row the fastest across a lake. Another to see who could outwit the other at a game of  trivia. And the third to see who could woo a lady.

The first proved that the young man was much younger than he thought. The second that the older was a lot older than he had hoped.  But the third ended in a tie because the lady could not be lured by the strange display of decrepit youth or stupid maturity. Of course, the young man was offended that she had called him stupid and the old man was also very insulted when she uttered that foulest of words, decrepit.  After she told them that they had gotten her insults backwards, neither understood what she meant at all.

Furious at their unwillingness to admit the obvious, she lead them to her bedchamber and for a moment both men thought he was the winner. Instead, she stood them before a mirror.

The young man called her a witch when he saw a baby-faced reflection. And the old man called her a sorceress who commanded the dark arts to conjure up such an image of a frail and haggard old toad. 

Thus, the competition solved nothing because fools only try to prove what they believe at the cost of rejecting a simple plain truth.