Knox Fables: A Familiar Tale of Two Very Different Mice

The loft mouse was scrolling through the newsfeed on his phone when the message arrived. "You probably don't remember me, but I'm your cousin!" it read. "We have not visited in so long, and I thought it would be nice to see you again. Would you care to join me for dinner on Saturday?" They exchanged a few e-mails, and eventually agreed to meet at a restaurant near the suburban mouse's cul de sac. The loft mouse reserved a Zipcar, and dropped a pin for the address on Google Maps.

The following Saturday, the loft mouse drove out of downtown and pulled off at the exit and to the restaurant where his phone directed him. He parked right in front, and went through the double doors into the cavernous restaurant where the hostess greeted him. She picked up a laminated menu, plucked a bundle of silverware from a basket, and asked him to follow her to the table where his cousin was waiting.

The suburban mouse ordered frozen strawberry margaritas for the two of them and soon a large bowl of Caesar salad arrived along with two giant plates of steaming pasta. After a few bites of fettuccine, the loft mouse pushed back his plate and took sip of his sugary cocktail. "Isn't this place great?" asked his cousin. The loft mouse pretended to receive a text and changed the subject.

"A wonderful place just opened on my block," the loft mouse told his suburban cousin. "All of the dishes are farm-to-table. There's a small plate of charcuterie and imported cheeses that is awesome. And the barista just completed his training in Asheville. You must come downtown next week and I'll show you what dining is all about."

The suburban mouse agreed, and promised to meet his cousin the following Saturday downtown.

The week came and went and the following Saturday, the suburban mouse got in his SUV and started his journey downtown. He had not been into the city in a very long time, but he had heard from the other mice at work that it was a very confusing place. He took one of the exits to downtown and eventually found his way to the main street. He looked and looked for a parking lot, but could not find one. There were many traffic lights, and people were walking everywhere and riding bicycles right in the middle of the road! Some people were parking on the side of the street, but the suburban mouse could not get his SUV to do that. Eventually he gave up and pulled into a garage. The ground floor was full, and he had to drive up and up to find a space. He checked twice to see that his SUV was locked, and began the journey to find his cousin.

He walked and walked. The restaurant where he was to meet his cousin seemed very inconvenient. It must have been very crowded, too, as he found his cousin sitting at a table right on the sidewalk. The loft mouse ordered a bottle of wine and soon a plate with what looked like tiny sandwiches with something dribbled on them arrived. "This hardly seems like enough for both of us," thought the suburban mouse. But the miniature morsels were quite nice, even if they did taste funny.

Suddenly a fire truck drove by with its siren screaming. A young man on a skateboard rode noisily by. The people at the table next to them began laughing and talking loudly. One man who looked as if he needed a bath walked right by where they were eating. The suburban mouse was very troubled by the things he saw. Across the street, someone scooped up their dogs' droppings, put them in a plastic bag, and took it with them!

It was all too much. After the check was paid, the suburban mouse stood up and made an excuse about needing to turn on his sprinklers and quickly walked the many blocks back to the garage and his SUV. "I'd rather have a bottomless salad bowl and listen to adult contemporary hits than eat pan-seared tidbits on a noisy and crowded sidewalk," he thought as he sped onto the interstate and hit the cruise control.

It was over 2,000 years ago when Aesop penned his version. But it's almost as if nothing's changed when it comes to the perspectives. Perhaps there will always be a division between urban dwellers and their outlying counterparts. To each his own, I suppose. I don't fault anyone for where they want to make their home, or how they choose to live. But if this hasn't changed in two millennia, I don't expect it to change in my lifetime. At least there's enough sour grapes to go around.