Once, there was a rabbit, who was brash and bold, and perhaps just a little bit too likely to interrupt the wise old owl with what he said was a question, but was really an observation and he often did this just as she was about to make important points about A Room of One’s Own. The brash rabbit worked hard, but not nearly as hard as some of the other rabbits in the class, which perhaps the brash rabbit did not realize because he was always talking so much, and once talked for so long past the end of class that he kept the wise old owl from catching her bus on time, so that she had wait for an extra half-hour in a Panera and ended up ordering one of those chocolate chipper cookies which tend to make owls gassy. At the end of the semester, the brash rabbit turned in a final portfolio that was fine and met all the requirements, but also consistently spelled all forms of “there” as “theyre” and included a note explaining that he did not have time to go back and change them all, since he was more concerned with his “real” classes for his major in Bio. The wise old owl gave the rabbit a “B” – which might stand for “brash” – but which also might just be what he earned.
One day, on their pilgrimage to the end of the semester, a monk and his apprentice came to a river.
“This river,” said the monk, “is never the same twice.”
“Well,” the apprentice said, “Actually, you mean that this river is never the same twice to us. Or, more precisely, you can’t put your hand in the same river twice. My high school Chemistry teacher, who was the best teacher I ever had because he came in at 6 AM to help me every day before practice, always said it like that.”
A passing group of other monks and their apprentices tittered. The monk smiled at his student, and said, “Thanks for correcting me in front of my friends. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you did that.”
“Sure!” said the apprentice, who began to cross the river. “I just wanted you to know what the correct saying is.”
The wise old monk smiled again. Then he pulled out his iPhone and sent himself a voice memo, reminding himself to show his appreciation to his student at the end of the semester.
An elephant professor welcomed visits from her students on Tuesday afternoons from 3 to 4:50. One day she was visited by a mouse student at 4:45.
“I have so many questions about how to be an elephant!” the mouse squeaked.
“That is wonderful!” said the elephant. “I am an expert on being an elephant!”
“Great,” squeaked the mouse, “but before I ask you about being an elephant, can I tell you about the rough time I’m having with my roommate?”
“Oh dear,” said the elephant. “Perhaps you should talk to the Resident Assistant mouse about that, or even just another mouse student.”
“Yeah, I guess,” said the mouse. “But I thought you could maybe help me because you’re a girl elephant.”
“Oh, dear,” said the elephant again. “I’m really so much better at just teaching you to be an elephant. That’s my actual job.”
“So,” squeaked the mouse, “I’ve always been a heavy sleeper, even when I was just a little mouse with fifty brothers and sisters…”
“But it’s 4:55 now,” the elephant said, “and I have to teach at 5!”
But the mouse didn’t stop telling her story. In fact, she started to cry.
Like all elephants, the professor never forgot.
The princess was concerned about the lack of learning in her land, and she called for her ladies, telling them that the one who best presented what she had recently learned would be given a priceless treasure. One by one, the ladies shared their knowledge. The four most memorable were as follows: One lady wrote a complicated but beautiful poem comparing the orbit of the moon to a wolf making its way through the forest. The princess was fascinated. Another lady wrote an exquisite research paper on how airlines set prices, a topic that the princess was interested in but had never really read up on. A third lady wrote a short story based on the various uses of plutonium, yet another revelation to the princess. And a fourth lady made the princess this cute little hedgehog out of plastic clay. The princess decided to give each of the first three ladies a priceless treasure, while the lady who made her the hedgehog – which was totally cute but not that original, really – should receive a treasure that although not priceless, was still expensive and rare. Unfortunately, the princess forgot the ladies’ names and ended up giving the fourth one the priceless treasure that should have gone to the second one. Whoopsie! But it happens. There are a lot of ladies in that kingdom.