Monday, December 19, 2011

Dumbed-Down Classics: Of Mice and Men

According to a recent study which I am just now making up, 83% of American high school seniors are reading at the sixth grade level or below. Therefore it's not surprising that when asked to name a few great works of literature, today's teens typically give responses such as "Wikipedia," "Twilight," and "What the hell is literature?"

Not to worry, I'm here to help.

In an effort to make classic novels accessible to a new generation of whacked-out, Facebook-addicted nimrods, I'm taking it upon myself to translate them (the novels) into language that is easily understood by everyone, even your teenage daughter who thinks "OMG U R SO STOOPID LOL" is a complete sentence.

So here we go. We'll start off with one of my favorites.

John Steinbeck's OF MICE AND MEN

Here's a tale of two men, who set out on their own
To earn honest wages, and perhaps find a home.
George was the smart one, stern but kind-hearted
His pal Lennie was, to be blunt, retarded.

Lennie was enormous, but wouldn't hurt a fly
At least not on purpose, as we'll learn by and by.
For a mouse he could pet, that's all he was wishin'
But what Lennie calls "pettin'" most people call "squishin'"

When he made George mad, to make light of the fuss
Lennie would beg, "Tell about guys like us."
It was a ritual they had, a mantra, you'd say
And they had to run through it almost every day.

"Other guys," George began, "ain't got no one else,
The things that they do, they gotta do by their self.
But not us, because we both got each other
We walk side by side, we're loyal like brothers."

"Go on," Lennie pleaded, "tell about our own place,"
And he listened to George with a smile on his face.
"We'll have our own house," at least so they'd planned,
"And we'll work hard and live off the fat of the land."

"We'll sell off our crops, and we'll share all the money,"
Then Lennie burst out, "Tell me about the bunnies!"
George let out a sigh, as became force of habit
"Yes, Lennie," he said, "you'll tend to the rabbits."

But to make this dream real, they'd have to build up a stash
Not drugs, you dumb asshole, it means save up cash.
They were hired as farmhands, and they labored each day
Feeding the livestock and baling the hay.

"Aloha, Mr. Spicoli."
They met many ranchers, tough guys with grit
Who had western-type names like Slim and like Whit.
A stablebuck Crooks, and Candy the oldie.
In the movie, the same guy who taught Jeff Spicoli.

The villain of the story is a punkass named Curley
The son of the boss, he was hostile and surly.
Simply put, he was a prick that nobody could stand,
But they put up with his crap so they didn't get canned.

Curley's wife, let me tell you, she was quite a hottie
She didn't mind showing off her sensational body.
Making passes at Carlson, flirting with Whit,
Yeah, the bitch had a knack for stirring up shit.

One day after lunch, Curley seemed even meaner,
He'd misplaced his wife, asked if anyone seen her.
Which, for some reason, Lennie thought was quite funny
And Curley got pissed, "What you laughin' at, dummy?"

He swung at the big guy, whacked him right in the chops,
And Lennie cried out, "George, please make him stop!"
When Curley saw that Lennie wasn't going to fight,
He tagged him again with a left and a right.

George then decided it was one punch too many,
And turned his pal loose yelling, "Go get 'im, Lennie!"
The next punch, Lennie caught in the palm of his hand,
And he crushed Curley's fist, ground his bones into sand.

Blood spurted everywhere, it was really quite gory,
To save Lennie's job, they came up with a story.
The farmhands discussed it, and all that they'd seen
Was Curley getting his hand caught in a machine.

With things back to normal, George continued to plan
For the day when they'd live "off the fat of the land."
Candy overheard and asked, "Is that really true?
I've got some spare cash if you'll let me come too."

George worked the numbers, and much to his delight,
He realized it could work, you know, it just might!
So the three men worked together and saved up more money,
And assured Lennie that he could still tend the bunnies.

But just when their dream was there to be had
Lennie screwed it all up, and he screwed it up bad.
See, Carlson gave Lennie a pup to take care of
A mistake, of course, he should've been quite aware of.

As I said once before, Lennie liked to pet things
But because he was "slow" he would tend to forget things.
Like when you grab puppies to stop them from yapping
If you grab them too hard, it's their neck you'll be snapping.

So he killed the poor puppy, and he knew it was trouble,
But when Curley's wife wandered in, well, the trouble was double.
She sat down next to Lennie, in the barn where it's dirty
And Lennie said, "Gee, ma'am, you hair sure smells purty."

Curley's wife let him touch it, which wasn't real bright,
And before very long, she was shaking with fright.
Lennie, as usual, started getting too rough
When the woman cried out, Lennie said, "That's enough!"

"You gotta be quiet, please lady, don't yell,
If George hears you hollerin' he'll come give me hell."
But she kept right on screaming, the terror had filled her,
And before Lennie knew it, it seemed that he'd killed her.

He knew that he'd done it, dog gone and dag-nabbit.
There was no way in hell he'd be tending them rabbits.
So he hid by the river, waited there for his friend
He knew that ol' George would come save him again.

Back at the barn, Candy got the shock of his life
As he was the one who found Curley's dead wife.
He went and got George, and the two men felt sick
They knew Lennie'd hang for this, and it wouldn't be quick.

George made up his mind that he'd find Lennie first
And make sure that bad didn't end up as worst.
So he went to the river, where he knew Lennie'd be
And he found his friend crying, sitting under a tree.

"You gonna give me hell?" he asked softly, while wiping a tear.
"No," said George, "We'll just sit quietly here."
"Tell me again," Lennie said, "About the fat of the land,"
And George stood behind him, with trembling hands.

"Some guys got no one gives a hoot in hell about 'em
In fact, the world might be better without 'em.
But not us, that's not how our life will be
Because I got you, and because you got me.

One day we'll have a place of our own
A farm, and some livestock, and even a home.
It's right out there, Lennie, just reach out and grab it."
And Lennie called out, "I get to tend the rabbits!"

Just then George heard Curley's mob coming to get 'em.
But no way in hell was he going to let 'em.
They'd torture poor Lennie, beat him till he was dead,
So George took out a gun and he shot him instead.


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Frank Lee MeiDere said...

That's actually really good. It fails, however, in making the literature more accessible to the present generation. With more than 140 characters, it "haz 2 mny wrdz."

Eva Gallant said...

Well done. It's been years since I read Of Mice and Men; you told the story well.

Suldog said...

You are a genius. A slightly off-kilter one, and sometimes a tiny bit evil, but a genius nevertheless.

"I get to tend the rabbits!"

I rest my case.

So. Cal. Gal said...

Pure genius!

Fred said...

I used to read this to my freshmen. The Christians always walked out at the first "goddamn" but I kept reading anyway and let the phonies read A Wrinkle in Time. The real kids loved Of Mice and Men.

notactuallygod said...

That had to have taken some time
to work out all that rhyme
I've done it myself and I aint lying
the finished product is so satisfying

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Better than a poke in the eye.
You gonna do Grapes of Wrath?

Anonymous said...

Aww gee. I was hoping for a dumbed down Twilight synopses. *grin*

This was fantastic!

Encore! Encore!

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

@Quirky: I don't think it's possible to dumb down Twilight any further . . . unless maybe it's nothing but pictures.

Eddie Bluelights said...

A very Happy Christmas to you ~ Eddie

Gia said...

Hahaha...good summary! And Happy Holidays!

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