Dads can say the strangest things. Imagine this scene from fifty years ago. I’m sitting at the dining room table with my family: mother and father, two brothers, a little sister on a booster seat. We don’t talk much; we’re pretty intent on eating and clearing out as soon as we’re finished. Suddenly, my father looks up from his plate and big blue bowl of salad, and proclaims:
“The world doesn’t owe you a livin’!”
Shocked silence. I glance at the faces around the table. Who is he talking to? And what brought this on?
Normal conversation resumes, but I’m lost in thought. It’s not like me or one of my brothers said anything like, “Gee, Dad. I don’t ever want to have to work. I just want everything handed to me.”
No, we all knew that if we wanted something, we’d have to work for it. Like a job. Like the horrible paper route I slogged through the previous winter.
I look over at Dad, and it seems he’s done pontificating and is now focused on his extra-large salad.
About a year ago, the mystery was solved! Maybe. But I think it’s a good theory. I was watching some vintage Disney cartoons on Netflix, and up popped the classic tale of the Grasshopper and the Ants.
The short version is this: Grasshopper with Goofy’s voice enjoys the fruits of summer, never thinking about the cold winter ahead. Queen Ant tries to convince him to prepare, as her colony of ants are now doing. He laughs/sings off her advice, and in a few short months he’s starving in a snowdrift. The ants feed him soup, warm his feet, and let him revive in their cozy den. The Queen is within her rights to toss Grasshopper back outside, but…wait, I don’t want to spoil it.
The Grasshopper sings two versions of ‘The World Owes Us a Living’, before and after the starving time. My dad may have seen this as a kid, and the message stuck with him. Therefore, when one of us kids seemed a little greedy, or pampered, or said something slightly stupid, he was ready with his Grasshopper wisdom.
I guess Dad had a point, so I will dutifully show up to work on Monday morning. After all, winter’s coming. Happy Fathers’ Day.