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Wanted: Elves for housework and light cobbling

Burt's Eye View

Where are my elves?

In the fable of “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” a poor shoemaker had only enough leather to make one final pair of shoes. The poor guy — let’s call him Harold — cut the leather and went to bed.

According to the news report from the Brothers Grimm, when Harold and his wife awoke the next morning, the shoes were finished, and beautifully so. Shortly after, a customer came into the shop and paid so much for the shoes that Harold bought enough leather for four more pairs of shoes.

Morning after morning, Harold Shoemaker and his wife, Henrietta, awoke to find all the shoes cobbled. Customers flocked to the little shop for the exquisite shoes. Money poured in. The Shoemakers were rich!

Close to Christmas, Harold said to Henrietta, “Hey, babe, let’s stay up tonight and see who’s giving us this helping hand.”

This is where I become skeptical about the details as reported. This hadn’t occurred to the couple before? Someone slips into your house swinging a hammer and slashing leather, and you ignore it and snore?

Did they call their home alarm company and demand a refund? Shove the dresser in front of the bedroom door? Rack the shotgun?

Not oblivious Harold and Henrietta Shoemaker.

Anyway, according to the Brothers Grimm (I added a couple likely details), the finally curious couple drank a gallon of coffee and hid. They spied a couple of elves clad in their au naturel cobbling shoes.

Immediately, Mrs. Shoemaker shrieked, “Harold, get the Lysol! There are tiny naked men on my table!”

No, that’s what a normal person would do. We already know that the Shoemakers aren’t normal. What Henrietta really said was, “Oh, Harold, they look so cold. Let’s make them some clothes.”

On Christmas Eve, she and Harold laid out on the table doll-sized suits. The elves were tickled pink — actually, since it was late December, they more likely were tinted a frigid blue. They yanked on their new clothes, danced a jig and dashed from the house, never to be seen again.

The now-rich shoemaker was well-stocked with shoes and supplies and was able to open a nationwide chain of stores, Elf in the Buff Shoes — or something like that. I’m not sure of the particulars because by this point in the story, my mind had wandered off.

“Why,” my wandering mind asked, “don’t elves visit our house? Is it because we have a cat?”

Every night, my wife and I stumble off to bed leaving too many tasks undone. Every morning, we wake up to still more undone dishes, cooking, cleaning, mowing, car repairs, business reports, work assignments, plus the occasional deceased mouse left on the dining room floor by the cat. At least, I think they were mice.

It’s not that I care to have little guys clad in their birthday suits scampering about the house while I sleep, but, hey, if they’ll repair our gutters or waterproof the basement, I can avert my eyes for a bit.

Instead, my wife just hands me my work clothes — not doll-sized — and tells me to get busy.

“I will,” I tell her. “Just as soon as my elves show up.”

Wanted: Housework elves. Shoemaking optional.

— Meet Burton Cole Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sept. 6 at The Vindicator tent at the Canfield Fair, where he will sign his humorous children’s novels. Contact him at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com or at www.burtonwcole.com.

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