4/22/2008

Lazy Jack

Today I told stories for more than 500 children and their smiling faces, laughter and engagement with the stories was a tonic for me.

" I liked your stories." "Your stories were so good." "Thank you for teling us the stories. I liked them all."

What more could you ask for? I was tired when I arrived at the school. I left feeling light on my feet.

One of the stories I told was Lazy Jack - the story of the muddled headed guy who keeps doing the silliest things - like putting butter on his head to carry it home, and dragging a leg of mutton behind him on a string. And finally carrying a donkey on his shoulders. All because he can't think his way into new situations and does things the way that would have worked with something else. Now the story ends well - seeing him and his foolish antics makes the miserable princess laugh and he wins her hand and his fortune.

I never liked the story much until I heard Irish storyteller Billy Teare tell it last August at Three Rivers Storytelling Festival in Pittburgh. He opened the story for me and I have been telling it off and on since then.

Today as I was telling the story I realized something new (to me) about the story - its not that Jack is stupid - its that he doesn't adapt to new situations. He makes a mistake, his mama scolds him and tells him what he should have done - and he applies that solution to the next problem - where it doesn't belong or work.

"You twit. You blockhead. What are you thinking?" is the way it usually goes -
Today I found myself saying.
"you twit. You blockhead. Aren't you thinking?"

Became a different story for me -

Aren't we all "Jack" - trying to make square pegs fit into round holes? Because someone told us to - not because its the right solution for the problem at hand.

3 comments:

Granny Sue said...

Ah, Jack! I love this story. But the Appalachian Jack is a far cry from the Irish Jack. I love our Appalachian boy--shrewd, conniving, a trickster perhaps, but smart. He always comes out on top. In that he is the epitome of every man I've met in rural WV--they love to trade, swap stories and outdo each other. Which is so much fun to observe!

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