“Once a man and his wife were sitting outside the front door with a roast chicken before them which they were going to eat between them. Then the man saw his old father coming along and quickly took the chicken and hid it, for he begrudged him any of it. The old man came, had a drink, and went away.
Now the son was about to put the roast chicken back on the table, but when he reached for it, it had turned into a big toad that jumped in his face and stayed there and didn’t go away again.
And if anybody tried to take it away, it would give them a poisonous look, as if about to jump in their faces, so that not one dared touch it. And the ungrateful son had to feed the toad every day, otherwise it would eat part of his face. And thus he went ceaselessly hither and yon about in the world.”
Brothers Grimm, “The Ungrateful Son” ♣found in 'The Gift' by Lewis Hyde (Vintage Books, 1979)
The spirit wore a festive green dress with a tight, corseted bodice, which lifted her bosom up like a gift for the world. But she wasn’t that generous. She got our attention and she made us fly, even though we didn’t really want to fly; it wasn’t something any of us had dreamed of. Up we went, rising, floating, and we were completely relaxed, no matter how high she took us. When she brought us back down, she spoke of her brothers and sisters, who are competitive and accomplished, even famous. She said they are accustomed to a numbness that makes her feel like an only child.
“I’m going to show you the future,” she told us. “I think you can handle it.”
And we could handle it. We did handle it. We never flew again, of course, but we have other pleasures. I later learned that we hadn’t been flying at all. She had attached wires to our wrists and ankles. It was all mechanical, easily arranged. Puppetry.
film clip is from The Year Without a Santa Claus, c. 1974
music is the song Alone Again Or by Love