Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Asiago Bunny

The following story engages the two central themes of Western Literature, which are, of course, the possibility (or impossibility) of true love and the tragic fate of the pre-industrial artisan in an economy of mass production. Asiago is a kind of cheese.

"The Asiago Bunny: An Edifying Tale for Children"

With apologies all around

Many years ago, in a small village, there lived a cheesemaker named Granola. His was a lonely life; while everyone else in the village was having a good time he spent his days stirring vats of fermenting milk with a garden rake and waiting for the balls of cheese he had hung from the rafters to age, and he longed for a companion with whom to share his misery.

One day he became so completely unhinged that he picked up his penknife and resolved to do himself an injury, until his glance happened to fall on a wedge of asiago that was attracting flies on a shelf. Something about the way the light shimmered on that hunk of lifeless cheese suggested to him the outline of a face, and in an instant the cheesemaker was furiously gouging out pieces of it with his knife, until, in a few moments' time, he had sculpted the perfect likeness of a bunny, complete with soft, stumpy tail and lovable bunny face.

He nestled his creation in his arms and whispered to it as he rocked it back and forth; then he cleared a place for it on his cheesemaking table and set it down softly, reassuring it with a gentle pat on its innocent soft head. Through the rest of that day, as he went about his cheesemaking chores with more than usual esprit, he conversed with the bunny and shared his sorrows and dreams and sang to it his songs of the cheesemaking life.

When the sun went down and his work was through he gathered up the bunny and retired to his dusty garret, making a cradle for it on his tiny table alongside his only other possessions, a single stumpy candle and a half-filled bottle of wine. Before he snuffed the candle out he gazed into the eyes of his companion and sighed and said “Oh, if only you were a real bunny!”

That night, as Granola lay asleep, the Cheese Fairy glided through his window, beheld the sleeping cheesemaker and his inert creation, and with one sweep of her wand changed the carved cheese into a real bunny, with long white teeth and soft fur but with a body that was still only made of cheese. The bunny opened its limpid eyes and looked around, then climbed onto the bed beside the cheesemaker and began to gently nuzzle his ear. The cheesemaker rolled his head about but did not awaken, and the bunny curled up at his side and went to sleep.

After a while, however, it woke up and began to explore the room; it found the bottle of wine and sniffed at it tentatively, then pushed it over and drank the contents. Within a few moments the bunny began to feel unwell and lay down, and soon after it became completely unconscious.

When the cheesemaker awoke the next morning he looked down at the empty bottle and the motionless bunny beside it, and could not remember anything that had happened the day before. He picked up the bunny in his large, calloused hands, sniffed its curious aroma of mingled wine, cheese, and small herbivorous mammal, and shrugged his shoulders. He carried it downstairs, put it in a pot, and cooked it over the fire for a while, then smeared the steaming, savory, melted mass onto the remains of a loaf of bread and ate it for breakfast.

Several readers have objected to the manner in which the bunny drains the wine, pointing out that a bottle resting on its side will retain a substantial quantity of liquid, and that it is unlikely that the bunny would have the strength to raise the bottle over its head in order to invert it and drain the balance. The objection is simply addressed: the bunny lowers himself slowly over the edge of the table, tilting the bottle after him until he finishes the contents, then allows the bottle to rock back into its resting position on the table.

(From 2004 or thereabouts, previously posted on my old site.)

No comments: