The Donkey’s Tale

by Joe Eliseon

Author’s Note: They tell this tale in Sicily. It sounds better in Sicilian dialect, which has 17 different words for stupid, including the worst, sheiku, which means an ass so stupid you must hit him between the eyes with a thick plank just to get his attention. It’s a term derived from the Arabic.

One donkey cart driver, a carrettiere, came upon another who was digging a great hole in the ground off to one side of the road. “What are you doing?” he asked.

The other man looked up at him from the bottom of the hole, stuck the blade of his shovel into the earth and wiped the sweat from his brow. “What am I doing?” he repeated, disgust in his voice. “I’ll tell you what I’m doing. It’s all because of my stupid donkey.”

“What about your donkey?”

“I’m telling you. Such a stupid ass you never saw. But you know how it is with donkeys.”

The first man nodded. “Yes, they can be quite stupid.”

“Ohh,” the other man shook his head, “but there has never been an animal as stupid as mine.”

“How stupid is he?”

The man in the bottom of the hole shook his fist. “And after all I’ve done for him, this is how he repays me! Not only is he stupid, he’s an ingrate.”

Disgrazia,” the first man commiserated. “Disgraceful.” Custom demands that you spit after saying “disgrazia” to clear the vile taste of the word from your mouth. Both men dutifully spit.

The first then asked, “So what exactly did he do?”

The man in the hole started to dig again. “It started weeks ago. You know how donkeys eat? They’re regular gluttons. They gorge themselves. My donkey was eating too much, getting too expensive. Business has been bad. But what could I do? I couldn’t just stop feeding him.”

“No …,” agreed the first man.

“Of course not,” affirmed the man in the hole, “that would have been inhuman. So, instead, each day, I fed him a little less and a little less.”


The man planted the shovel in the dirt a final time. “So, I finally taught him not to eat at all and then the stupid animal goes and dies on me! And I have to dig this hole to bury him in! Senza rispettu! No respect! Stupid animal!”

The first man shook his head. “Can you imagine?

Moral: Not every stupid ass pulls a cart.

(c) 2016 by the Author. All rights reserved.

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