This is a story from a simpler time, when men conversed freely with the spirits of nature. Things were less complicated then. Those who lived by the forests made their living chopping and sawing wood. They were a quiet and reverent people—
We call them the "Lumberjacks."
Just how manly were these Lumberjacks?
Let's just say, when these burly men combed their beards and exfoliated their skin, they plucked the bark from evergreen trees and slid it down their sun-pruned faces.
Lumberjacks don't exfoliate, and if the narrator should use that word again, they will climb up out of their graves and punch their fists into the nearest brick wall, to reassert their manliness, before crawling back dead again.
Now if the Lumberjacks were so manly, you might ask—where did they all go? Well. To know the whole story, you must first know that amongst these proud farmer-warriors, there once lived one fellow quite unlike the rest. His name was Harry Bunyan.
Harry was nothing like his cousin Paul. While Paul was taking his famous long strides with his blue ox Babe across the northern woodlands, clearing down paths for shopping malls and movie theaters, Harry was lying in his pajamas on the couch eating cereal, watching Saturday morning cartoons with his pet cat named Garfield on a Monday afternoon.
He was the type who stole his neighbor's WIFI.
He wore SPF-sunscreen lotion and polka dots instead of flannel. The rest of his tribesmen simply couldn't understand him.
Not that they much minded. They were too busy out chopping wood. And it was one such day while the others were out when Harry was dilly-dallying about—lying in a field of daisies with his arms propped up behind him, cradling his heavy head, staring up and counting buffalos in the sky, when he was struck by an incident most peculiar.
Harry reached into his case of Red Bulls when his hand grabbed around something soft and squishy. "Ah!" screamed a tiny voice from inside his hand.
Harry could not believe his good fortune.
He'd never seen one himself, of course. But he'd heard. Woodland spirits were to blame for many of the Lumberjack's woes—freak winds, inexplicable snow falling off branches onto heads, nagging housewives. ("Use a toothbrush!" they'd say.) But even nagging housewives believed if one were ever caught alive, a magical wish would be granted.
"Unhand me, you oaf!" shouted the tiny voice again.
Harry uncupped his hand to the ugliest wart of a fairy he'd ever seen. Pudgy, bald, and hairy-chested. Oily too, like if he squeezed it would slip out of his hand.
Which is exactly what he did.
The fairy shot up into the air then staggered, dipping and reeling, hiccuping the scent of daffodils. Bewildered from a night of heavy partying the fairy landed back, much to Harry's disgust, between his eyebrows.
"Fine. All right," the fairy looked down into Harry's face. "You've caught me. What do you want?"
"Well," Harry said thoughtfully.
"I want Babe the Blue Ox to be immortal."
"Aw, aren't you a sweetheart," thought the fairy. Maybe humans aren't so bad and selfish, he thought.
" ...So I can make bacon from him everyday. I don't ever want to chop wood, saw wood, sell wood again."
It wasn't until midnight when the rest of the Lumberjacks returned did they notice the heavenly scent of forbidden meat emitting from Harry's cabin. Knowing the sort of man he was, they rushed inside.
"No no, Harry, not Babe!"
"Guys," said Harry, "It's not what it looks like." He turned around to point and explain the knife, the branding iron, Babe the Blue Ox with a bandage over her rump, and the sizzling slabs of meat with the wooden spatula in his hand—
"Okay, it's exactly what it looks like. But I can explain."
"Explain what!?" shouted Paul, pushing aside two fellows by the door and storming in, grabbing a handful of bacon.
"Oh my god," said Paul. "I hate you, but these are delicious."
"What's done is done," said another, grabbing a few.
"Why," said the third. "It is like mammoth meat."
Which is, by the way, the highest compliment a Lumberjack could give to a chef, ever since they rendered the woolly beasts obsolete and drove them to extinction.
Next morning the Lumberjacks woke up with a massive thirst. Instead of chopping wood they spent the day picking apples and making juice instead. After that, they gathered some eggs and flour to make pancakes.
Bacon opened their eyes to a whole new world.
They simply weren't used to such luxuries of marble fat and creamy, crispy richness. As a rule, Lumberjacks abided by the three W's of indulgence: Werewolves, Whiskey, and Waterfalls. But now whole new economies were developed to support their newfound, endless commodity—picnic-things, Zumba, weekday mimosas, plumbing.
Every meal was breakfast, because after eating so much delicious bacon it was hard not to fall asleep. Then they'd wake up, take turns slaughtering Babe the immortal cow, and do it all over again.
Which might have worked out, if they didn't need wood to cook the stove also.
The fire-logs were running low.
"Paul! Harry!" shouted the housewives. "Why's there a draft coming in from the roof?"
"We'll fix it in the Spring," the men say, jonesing for another bite.
It was no use. There was simply not enough timber to go around.
The men began chopping, hacking away at their log-cabins. First, just a mantelpiece or two. Then came the rafters, the boards, the beams, then finally—even the door. Now the Lumberjacks and their womenfolk were a hardy stock, but even against the final chilly breaths of Old Man Winter they struggled to stay warm.
And it was decided, they would have to break taboo at last.
The Men began to shave.
They began to shave, and trim off their massive beards with buzzsaws. That was enough firewood to last a few weeks. Then the women shaved their legs. It would be ungentlemanly to say exactly how much that helped, but the effect was substantial. Indeed they had just enough to stay warm through several winters—
But men never learn.
"Tonight, we feast like kings!" screeched the emasculated men.
They used up all the fire material for one last fix of their favorite breakfast foods.
When the snow cleared a few weeks later, the Lumberjacks were never to be seen again.
The womenfolk were gone, presumably to Italy, in search of Italian plumbers who tripped on mushrooms. They were, after all, the next best, manliest things.
Babe the Blue Ox disappeared also, presumably to seek political refuge in the East.
Let us hope he finds India before China.
And the moral of this story?
Well. There are many. First, bacon is best served with moderation. Second, in an immaculate society, women and men share the burden of labor equally. But the last and also most obvious of all—
If you ever catch a magical fairy, wish for a hundred more wishes.