A sap’s fables

In two weeks, I will conclude my time in Brazil. I’m definitely going to miss it, as the past six years have not only been riddled with fun memories, but instructive ones. I’ve learned things from family, friends, even strangers—many of whom I’ll carry with me for a while. I’ve thought about how I can incorporate these lessons into a final goodbye, and let me tell you, that’s hard to do without seeming like an obnoxious foreigner. Regardless, I’ve decided to channel the best and brightest of my time here into a few short fables: all of them have a moral and all are lame.

It was a cold, Friday night in São Paulo, and Wilson was off to meet one of his friends downtown. Wilson’s parents were busy, so he called a cab to take him into the city. The ride was long, and both Wilson and his driver—a large, Hawaiianlooking man–were bored out of their minds. Being the kind soul he was, Wilson struck up a conversation with the taxi driver, assuming he was related to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (the world renowned musician). Little did Wilson know, however, the cab driver had nothing to do with the singer. In fact, he was not Hawaiian at all. In any case, Wilson pestered the driver with requests to play the ukulele and sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” When he learned of the driver’s Brazilian nationality and name, Robson, his heart was crushed. Wilson later drowned himself in a puddle of lemon drops.

Moral: Don’t assume. Assumptions lead to expectations, and expectations often fall short of reality.

There was once a kid named Frank who wanted to be very strong. Not strong like his dad, who could open a jam jar, but like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who could lift trains with ease. Frank decided to start working out and eating right to become a professional bodybuilder. When asked about his methods, he always answered, “Look, I know what I’m doing: 20% work, 80% diet— that’s the way to go.” His friends tried to explain his flawed thinking to him, but Frank would not listen. After 25 years of going to the gym sometimes and consuming over 80,000 kilos of protein powder, he remained skinny, scrawny, and scarred.

Moral: Listen to people. Even though they’re usually wrong, sometimes they say things that can help you. Surprising, I know.

Once upon a time, there was a Jaguar who lived deep in the Amazon. She was happy; she danced and frolicked in the river, ate small indigenous children, and every once in a while, painted herself black to feel like a panther: something she kept very secret. One morning, the jaguar decided to paint herself black. She hadn’t fully accepted her desire to become a panther yet, and was still in the process of experimenting with her fur. Her new-found color made her feel vulnerable to the world around her, and so she was startled when a monkey trotted on by and spotted her.

“What are you doing?” the monkey, looking at her black coat asked.

“Oh, you know, just being a panther,” she replied. The monkey looked a little closer and saw her badly-concealed spots.

“You’re not a panther at all!” he screamed.

“Please, you can’t tell anyone…” pleaded the jaguar.

The monkey did not heed her cries, since monkeys are cruel animals, and announced the jaguar’s secret. The jungle gathered to hear of the jaguar’s identity, and, in the process, get some free pizza. After they stoned, stabbed, and strung the jaguar up in a tree, the animals realized she bled the same blood as them. They realized that jaguars and panthers aren’t very different at all.

Moral: Don’t mistake appearance for character. Also, don’t stone othersthat’s very bad.

As you now wade through knee-deep ethical dilemmas, keep in mind, very little of this was inspired by my experience in Brazil. Moral for life: don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. After all, at this point, any closure is good closure.