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Syndic Literary Journal

Moral Fables

Written by Paul M. Levitt

Narrated by Syndic Literary Journal Poets

Published by LeRoy Chatfield


Introduction by the Publisher

Paul. M. Levitt, Professor Emeritus of English,  University of Colorado at Boulder, has written 14 Moral Fables that I have agreed to publish ~ and narrate ~  in serial-fashion in Syndic Literary Journal.

The titles of these Moral Fables are: Bad Words; Crybaby; Making Believe and Day Dreaming; Drawing the Line; Eating; Pocket Money; Nay Saying; Practice; Respect; Shouting; Tidiness; Telling the Truth; Whining; and No Bullying

The narration for each Moral Fable is  provided by a Poet  from Syndic Literary Journal.

I hope you will enjoy these moral fables as much as I do.

~ LeRoy Chatfield, Publisher

Moral Fable No.11  “Respect”

Narrated by Clarinda Harriss


     Betty Rhinoheart was a sassy brat.  Or so her parents said.  Mr. and Mrs. Rhinoheart complained that Betty talked back; they grumbled that she was rude and disrespectful.

     “Have some respect for your parents,” snapped her mother.

     “Don’t always be talking back,” commanded her father.

     But the fourteen-year-old Betty hardly heard a word her parents uttered.  She thought they were sticks-in-the-mud, squares, stiffs.  Her parents were an embarrassment to her.  They weren’t with it, she told her friends.  After all, what did her parents know about the latest rock groups, the latest hit song, the latest music video, or the latest teen styles?  Nothing.  And anybody who didn’t know the latest “in” thing was out of it, hopelessly old fashioned.  Or so Betty thought.

     “No,” said her mother, “you cannot dye your hair purple and wear a ring through your nose.”

     “Get with it, Mom,” answered Betty.  “All the kids nowadays have purple hair and nose rings.”

     “Take off those ridiculous earrings,” ordered her father.  “They come down to your waist.”

     “Nag, nag, nag,” shouted Betty.  “All you do is nag!”

     Mr. and Mrs. Rhinoheart began to wonder whether having a child was worth the trouble.  They remembered the days when they were courting, the days when they were carefree, able to come and go without having to worry about Betty’s friends, her whereabouts, her report card, her clothing, her habits, and, most of all, her behavior at home.

     “Get off my case,” yapped Betty.  “Everything I do, you pick, pick, pick!”

     “Don’t be rude,” ordered her mother.

     “Show some respect for your father and mother,” snapped Mr. Rhinoheart.

     “Why,” asked Betty, “can’t the two of you just leave me alone?”

     And so it went, day in and day out, until Mr. and Mrs. Rhinoheart thought that they would lose their minds.  But then a strange thing happened.  Betty was poking through the attic one Sunday afternoon when she came across an old scrapbook that belonged to her parents.  Among the clippings in the scrapbook were several showing her father and mother receiving a number of first place prizes for dance contests.  There were photographs of them winning a Charleston contest, a jitterbug contest, a rock-and-roll contest, and a freestyle dance contest that looked something like break dancing.

     “Wow,” thought Betty, “my p’s (which is what she called her parents) were really super.  I can’t believe it.  They were once totally excellent and cool.  Awesome!”

     Upon making this discovery, Betty made a beeline downstairs and ran into the living room where her mother sat reading a book called The Teenage Mind.

     “Teach me to dance, Mom,” said Betty with a rush of words.  “Please, Mom.  I’ll do anything, if you’ll just teach me how to dance.  I want to win a prize.”

     “You’ll do anything?” repeated her mother.

     “Anything!” exclaimed Betty.

     “All right,” said her mother, “I’ll teach you how to dance, IF you treat your mother and father with respect—and stop talking back.”

     “I promise,” said Betty breathlessly, running off to tell her friends about her p’s.

     And Betty absolutely, positively kept her word.  That very day she not only started dancing lessons, but also began to speak and behave respectfully toward her parents.  Phrases like, “May I” and “Pardon me” became part of her everyday vocabulary.  So polite and considerate was Betty that she lost all her sassiness; she was so sweet that a frozen bagel would melt in her mouth.  In fact, in no time at all, her tartness and edge were gone.  She became all sweetsy-pooey, all gooey-phooey.  Every other word out of her mouth was something like:  “Please,” or “Thank you,” or “May I run an errand for you,” or “If you need any help, just ask,” or “I’ll do whatever you want,” or “I’m only too happy to help,” or “Is there something I can do around the house,” or “I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.”  The change in behavior was too much for her parents.  Her constant sweetness was enough to make them gag.

     “What happened to your old spirit?” Mr. Rhinoheart asked Betty.  “You never talk back any more.”

     “We just want you to be yourself,” explained her mother.

     “I am myself,” said Betty, “my new self.  It suits me.  I like being my parents’ daughter.  Is there something wrong?”

     “No,” sighed her mother.

     “Nothing’s wrong,” said her father.


What would you advise?

  1. that Betty return to being sassy;
  2. that Betty be even more polite than before;
  3. that Betty forget about dancing;
  4. that Mr. and Mrs. Rhinoheart not say anything and be glad that Betty is now so well behaved;
  5. that Mrs. and Mrs. Rhinoheart speak rudely to Betty;
  6. that Mr. and Mrs. Rhinoheart dye their hair orange, get a tattoo, and roller-skate down the street, bopping to the latest beat?






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