Friday, March 9, 2007

The Twelve Little Pigs

Another post inspired by conversation with my 7-year-old son...

So, Danny was telling me about an assignment at school where the teacher asked them to draw or describe tools that the Three Little Pigs could have used to help build their respective houses of straw, sticks and bricks. Neat assignment, btw, I thought.

He told me about his ideas, and then went on to tell me about something else that day, I forget what, but the story also involved the number "3."

"Why," I asked him, "Do you think the number '3' is in so many stories? Why is it '3 pigs' and '3 wise-men' and '3 blind mice' and all those other '3's?'"

His initial answer proves he's my son...

"Well," he replied. "If it were always 9's, you'd just be asking me the same thing about 9's, wouldn't you?"

Right. It has to be something, don't it? Anyway...

"That's a good point," I agreed. "But why should it just be three pigs? Wouldn't it be a funny story if there were a lot more? Like twelve little pigs? And there their houses were built out of lots of other stuff?"

"Like stuff that's not hay or twigs or bricks. Weaker or stronger stuff?" he asked.

"Exactly. What would the first pig have used, if it was weaker than hay?"

Dan thought for a second and then said, "Grass?"

"Sure," I agreed. "That's weaker than hay. But if we're going to do twelve... I bet you can think of something even weaker than grass to build a house out of."

"Cotton candy!"

"Excellent! That's amazing. That would really be an awful house to hide in from a wolf."

"What would you choose, Dad?" he asked.

I thought and said, "Bubbles."

He nodded. "That's a very weak house."

"Can you," I asked, "think of anything worse or weaker than bubbles to build a house out of?"

He paused for a long moment, brow furrowed in concentration before answering.


I may have peed a little I laughed so hard. Of course. Because, and he confirmed this was his reasoning, chickens would run around a lot while you tried to build out of them.

So I asked him to list the full Pig House Building Material Manifest of Twelve. It went like this:

  • Chickens

  • Bubbles (my only contribution)

  • Cotton Candy

  • Grass

  • Paper

  • Hay

  • Twigs

  • Pants (I have no idea... he just inserted this one on his own)

  • Bricks

  • Concrete

  • Iron

  • Diamonds held together with Super Glue

That would be such a better story.

When he was done, he wanted to know if he could add one more. I said, of course, "Sure."

"I think," he said, "it would really freak the wolf out if you built a house out of wolves."

I agree. I truly, deeply agree.
The moral of this story for writers and creative types is... multiply. If you have three blind mice... how would the song change if it were 300? Farmer's wife... watch out! The song "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," really only lists 5... can you think of 45 more?
"Then the pigs built a house of pants..."

Totally cracks me up. I have no idea what it means, but I love it.

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