Once upon a time… The Feebleminded Man


Although the majority of Hungarian folk tales treat men as the crown jewels of creation and women as collaterals, there are some rare exceptions. This time we’ll present you how democratic and egalitarian our folk tales can be, with the antithesis of the tale of Szusza in the last issue. Behold The Feebleminded Man.


Once upon a time there was a woman who married a feebleminded man. He is so dense that she has to tell him what to do and what to wear, when to breathe in and when out. The couple has a cow, and one day the woman tells her man to go and sell it on the market. She dresses him, and the man leaves with the cow. Along the way the cow is bitten by mosquitoes and the poor thing is jumping and running around to flee from the attack of the bugs. As the feebleminded man can’t keep up with the cow, he grabs his chance when he sees a man coming with his pig – he exchanges the cow for the swine. But our man doesn’t like the pig either, so he exchanges it for a goose at the next opportunity. Soon he gets tired of the bird defecating on his head, so when he sees a man selling hone stones by the road, he gets rid of the goose for a stone.


Satisfied with a good day’s work, the man heads home with the hone stone. When he’s passing by a lake with wild ducks bathing in it, it occurs to him how happy his wife would be with a roast dick dinner. So he throws the hone stone in the lake, missing all the ducks. Realizing he can’t go home without nothing to show for the cow, he undresses, leaves all his clothes on the shore, and goes skinny dipping to find the hone stone. He doesn’t, and when he comes ashore, he sees his garb has been stolen.


And this is where the folk tale turns into a surreal nightmare. The man goes home all naked, and all hungry. Without even thinking about putting something on, he cuts a slice of bread and goes to the cellar for a glass of wine. He places the bread at the door of the cellar, and when the dog runs off with the slice, our man pulls out the tap from the cask and throws it at the dog. As the wine fills up the cellar, the goose nesting on its eggs in the corner starts honking and hissing. The mad man takes the goose’s sounds for an actual promise that the bird would tell on him to his wife, so he chokes the poor goose and throws the carcass out to the yard. He then pours a sackful of flour and feather into the wine, rolls about in the mess, and sits on the goose eggs. Before further damage could be done, the wife and, with her, sanity return. When she sees what happened in the yard and in the cellar and finds a scary monster sitting on the eggs, she’s prepared for the worst. But before she could strike the monster in the head with an axe, her husband cries out and tells her about his eventful day. Some corporal punishment ensues, but she forgives her idiot man. From that moment the feebleminded man is not allowed out of the house anymore. The woman realizes that if she wants something done, she has to do it herself, and she’s better off with her husband under house arrest. And although this is a Hungarian folk tale, it ends with the words ‘that’s all folks!’ No wonder, this story would leave anyone speechless…

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