Here’s the scene. I was sitting in the café at the National Library not long ago when I overheard the following conversation between two women, let’s call them Pam and Sarah:
Pam: So you love him, don’t you? I mean what’s the problem?
Sarah: Yeah, of course I love him. I just wish he, you know, maybe read books or something.
Pam: How do you mean?
Sarah: I just can’t talk to him about books, and you know, it would be nice sometimes to talk about books.
Pam: Doesn’t he have other interests? I thought he played the guitar or something.
Sarah: Yeah, I know, but it would be nice to be able to talk to each other about literature or ideas or something.
Pam: So what are you going to do?
Sarah: I dunno. I do love him – I just…
Pam: Maybe you could, you know, try talking about books and see what he says?
Sarah: He just wants to, you know, hang out all the time.
Pam: Yeah, which is ok, just not all the time, and that jumper – it has to go!
Sarah: I’m working on that!
The conversation brought to mind a fable from Aesop called “Aphrodite and the Weasel”:
A weasel once fell in love with a handsome young man and the blessed goddess Aphrodite, the mother of desire, allowed the weasel to change her shape, so that she appeared to be a beautiful woman whom any man would be glad to take as his wife. As soon as the young man laid eyes on her, he also fell in love and wanted to marry her. While the wedding feast was in progress, a mouse ran by. The bride leaped up from her richly decorated couch and began to run after the mouse, thus bringing an end to the wedding. After having played his little joke, Eros took his leave: Nature had proved stronger than Love. (1)
(1) Aesop’s Fables (Translated by Laura Gibbs) 2002 available at http://www.mythfolklore.net/aesopica/oxford/350.htm
Aesop’s fable teaches us that we cannot change a person’s essential nature. Once a weasel, always a weasel. If this is the case, then the situation is looking pretty dire for Sarah’s relationship. Try as she might to make her man read books and ditch that jumper, he will still be the same man. And she will be the same woman. I didn’t think that Pam or Sarah would appreciate me interrupting their conversation and sharing the fable with them so I decided to put it in my blog instead! (But I do hope that Eros is not toying with Sarah and that things work out).
In the meantime, I’m going to listen to this wonderful version of the song “There’ll be some changes made” by Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler. Maybe you have heard it? We used to listen to this song late at night driving back from a weekend at the coast. The lyrics are right on point:
Image of National Library: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/10410185