I was not familiar with this story, previously, but Brian says that it is the first shaggy dog that he ever heard. There is a certain rudimentary charm, for all of that.
This story has to do with a young man who was deathly afraid of snakes. It is difficult to emphasize enough his horrible snake phobia. The most dangerous, deadly serpent in his corner of the world was a snake called Nathan. To make a short story longer, Nate the Snake was without a doubt the worst, the very worst, a creature of the young man’s nightmares.
To carry the plot even further, we have to talk about the evil space aliens who abducted our young man and Nate the Snake. As such creatures often do, they gave the young man one of those irreconcilable and unavoidable choices in which, whatever you do, you cannot win. Behind one door was a large lever that when pulled would bring about the end of the world. Behind the other, of course, was Nate.
The end of the world, or a meeting with his nemesis, Nathan? Which would it be? Finally, the young man remembered the maxim that saved all the rest of us: Better Nate than lever.
The following, probably more authentic variant, was provided by Eeyore5551 on AOL, who said, “I had a high school teacher who told a shaggy dog every Friday afternoon. His favorite follows…”
A prospector was combing the hills for gold. Determined to make his fortune, he spent many a day following the trails up and down the mountain side. One such day, he was walking wearily up the side of the hill. He heard a voice call out, “Hello, Hello.” He turned to his mule and asked, “Bessie, did you say something?” Bessie didn’t answer and he turned to go on. “Hello, hello, up there.”
The prospector looked around again. He saw a snake on the ground, “Was that you talking to me?”
“Yes, Nate the Snake, glad to meet you.”
Now, the prospector was no fool and soon had a plan in mind. He talked it over with Nate, who agreed to the plan.
The prospector built a roadside stand to house Nate and advertised him as the world’s only talking snake. People came from all over to talk to Nate the Snake. They made millions and Nate’s abode grew.
Now, the government as governments will, needed to build a lever to end the world. And they decided to build the lever right across the street from Nate’s abode. People came from all over, first to see Nate and then to see the lever that would end the world. People would see Nate and talk with him about this lever. One night Nate decided he needed to go see this lever for himself. He got down off the pedestal and slithered out the door. A driver was coming down the road. He was driving too fast. He saw Nate. He turned. He saw the lever. He turned back. He saw Nate. He swerved. He saw the lever, he swerved. He ran over Nate. Nate was dead. People were upset. Geraldo broadcasted. People were angry. The driver was brought before the judge.
“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” asked the judge.
“I’m so sorry. I saw Nate. I saw the lever. I had to make a decision. I thought to myself… it was better Nate than lever.