Over the weekend, Christopher and I picked Green Eggs and Ham for one of his bedtime stories.
"I would not like them
here or there.
I would not like them
I do not like
Green Eggs and Ham.
I do not like them,
Sam-I-am," I read. "Would you like them in a house?"
"Why is he doing that?" asked Christopher.
"Why is who doing what?"
"Why does he want the other guy to eat Green Eggs and Ham?"
"I guess because he thinks the other guy will like it if he tries it."
"But he said no," said Christopher.
"Yes, he did," I said, "but the point is, uh, if he just keeps after the other guy, he'll finally say yes."
"But he said no," repeated Christopher.
"Yes, he did say no. But it supposed to be funny, see, because the other guy is grumpy, and...well, I guess if someone kept trying to make me do something I didn't want to do, even after I'd said No, even after I left the room and tried to get away from him, if he kept following me and insisting, I suppose I'd be grumpy, too."
"What does he keep following him for, even though he said no?"
"...uh, well, it's...Actually, it's called harassment," I said. "And actually, in real life, it would be against the law to continue to pester someone like this after this many refusals."
"Why does he finally say Yes?" asked Christopher.
"Because he got tired of fighting and just gave in," I said, "which um...actually, he probably shouldn't have done that, because the only thing he taught Sam-I-am was that if he hears "No" twenty times and then on the twenty first time he hears "Yes," he knows next time he'll just have to make sure he asks twenty times. Probably the guy in the black had should have filed a restraining order with the police."
This conversation was starting to get out of hand. But Christopher kept persisting.
"This book is bad. Why did they do that?"
"It's supposed to be funny."
"I don't think it's funny."
"No, I...I suppose it isn't, when you look at it that way. Do you want me to keep reading it?"
Would you like them
in a house?
Would you like them
with a mouse?"
I didn't begin the evening with the intention of turning the fourth best-selling children's book in the world from a story of a plucky little creature with a never give up attitude to a grim tale of stalking and harassment, but for some reason the conversation got away from me and was pulled inexorably to the dark, seamy underbelly of the Seuss world.
I'm afraid to read him other Seuss stories, like perhaps The Cat in the Hat. Breaking and entering, vandalism, Contributing to the deliquency of minor children - who knows what joy I'll bring to it?
To make amends, I present you with this classic rendition of Green Eggs and Ham, as read by the Rev. Jesse Jackson:
Green Eggs and Ham
by Dr. Seuss
1960 by Random House