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Albert the Moth

Category: Puns, Rated G, Shaggy Dogs, Shaggydog listserv

This very shaggy story was sent to the shaggydog listserv by Stan Kegel. He also sent a different tale with a similar punchline (see below).

Back in P.E.I. [a small Canadian province], where I was raised, there are few sporting heroes; Rick Vaive used to be one, but then he joined the Leafs [a hockey team]. In any event, whatever happens to the rest of her heroes, the tale of Albert the Moth, from Alberton P. E.I., will long live in the annals of sporting legend.

Albert was a sturdy farm moth, raised in a good Christian farm on the outskirts of Alberton, P.E. I. Although he never knew his mother or father, for he was a moth, and they were long dead, he would have made their antennae vibrate with pride as he was a gracious, courteous moth, especially as a child.

When he entered puberty, as teenagers of all species are wont, he fell in with a bad crowd. He’d fly around cows with his friends, annoying them like all getup. Now to us humans cows are the very ideal of kindness, comeliness and grace. To moths however, cows are real bastards; clever and scheming in their insatiable desire to hurt moths. So the cows would swat at the moths with their tails; which sent the moths’ souls to the great light in the sky when they connected, and sent their innards spraying all over their friends. This was the crowd Albert had fallen in with.

Now Albert’s companions soon marvelled at his courage. Most of the moths would fly around the cow, landing rarely to give it the boot every now and then. Albert, however, would land on the cow, scurrying on foot over it’s sensitive sensitive parts, sending the cow into a wild paroxysm of tail flailing. Albert would always wait until his doom seemed certain, then dash out of the way, to scurry ever more over the cows private privates. Such was Albert’s greatness that even while being a scourge, he did so with a nobility that surpassed that of his peers.

After a while his friends remarked upon his quickness afoot, and suggested he enter a race. It is curious that species compete at that which they are worst. Moths, who fly like arrows compete afoot; humans who excel at sleeping compete by thinking.

In any event, Albert’s friends cajoled him into competing in the “Alberton Moth Festival” foot races. Race day dawned fresh and clear; however this was irrelevant since the race was being held in an unused bedroom of an old farm house. The starter, an old fart of a moth, enjoined the Moths to take their places, and then — they were off. Albert raced across the floor, up the wall, across the ceiling, down the wall, and back across the floor. At the end his nearest rival — a husky Campbell moth from the other side of town, was half a room-length away. Thus the legend of Albert the moth, from Alberton P. E.I., was begun, for such convincing victories, especially from unknowns, were rare in the highly competitive world of moth racing. It was a shot heard around the province of Prince Edward Island.

Alberts friends looked upon him with new and crafty eyes (or, what passes for eyes in moths, anyway). No longer was he a nice simple rube to amuse them while endangering his life. No, now they were calculating; seeing Albert as a tool to be used to enable them to rise above their station.

“Albert, you should enter the Provincials” came the insidious whisper. “No!” Albert replied, “I have no interest in personal glory, I only wish to work for the advancement of all mothkind!”. The moths were taken aback; they had taken his natural exuberance at the cow game to be a sign he was as depraved as they. But they now recognized it was merely the first surge of mothhood coursing through his veins, in his green bug blood. They then plotted to destroy his innocence.

As evil liquor and spirits are to men, so bright lights are to moths. “OK Albert, we respect your decision; but come to Lee’s [in joke] anyway to celebrate your victory” the moths chorussed. “I will join you”, Albert replied, thinking the night would be one of quiet companionship and good cheer.

When he arrived at Lee’s place he discovered that Lee had been to the LCBPEI (Light Control Board of P. E.I.) where he’d picked up a 151 watt golden Jamaican light bulb. Albert was taken aback, although he shouldn’t have been since it is well known that Lees of all species are depraved, and made to leave immediately. “Stay Albert” his companions plead. “The party is for you, you don’t have to take any light, and its not illegal or anything.” So Albert stayed. And after a while he was persuaded to fly a long way from the light. Of course as the night wore on he was cajoled to fly closer and closer, until he was inches away from the burning orb. As he lost consciousness he cried out “I love you all so much, of course I’ll run in the Provincials for you.”

Two weeks later Albert was nervously awaiting the start of the race, which was being held in the legislative assembly of P. E.I., a room far larger than he’d previously run in. The competition was serious; these were athletes who trained full time. Mark from Morell was particularly worrisome, as he was ranked in the top 20 of Canada. Albert thought he was doomed to failure. Still, he resolved gamely to do his best.

The race started. Mark from Morell jumped off to a quick lead. It soon became apparent that the rest of the field was outclassed. Mark and Albert raced across the floor, then sped up the wall. They dashed across the ceiling, then down the wall. As they started across the floor Albert finally regained the lost ground, and as he ran the final leg he pulled further and further ahead of Mark, until at the end of the race he was a foot ahead of him, which is many body lengths for a moth. Up in the gallery money changed wings.

A wild keening cry was torn from Mark. “Pray tell, what’s wrong?” asked Albert. “I’ve practiced all my life to make the Canadian championship, and now I can’t go for you’ve bested me”. “Fear not”, replied Albert, “I am not going to the championships, I have other plans for my life”. “Thank you, oh thank you” replied Mark.

Alberts friends came to him. “You really whipped that wimp, you’ll clean up at the Canadians” they said. Albert tried to tell them he wasn’t going, but he did agree to come to another party at Lee’s.

Albert’s friends knew they would have to break his spirit if they were to convince him to race again. At this party there were illicit lights; thousand watt Columbian blues that STROBED. Albert was soon cavorting in front of them, his mind totally removed from reality. And then, to totally smash his innocence, his friends introduced him to a harlot butterfly, who engulfed him with her big wings; and Albert was lost totally. While weaving home Albert came across Mark who called out to him “Hail Albert, the moth with the greatest heart in the world”. Albert yelled “Eat it sh___-face; I’m going.”

Thus a proud, swaggering Albert came to Edmonton to compete in the national championships. He and his friends were out carousing, visiting moths of ill repute, engaging in drunken brawls every night. So great was Albert’s arrogance that he didn’t even train.

Another irrelevantly clear and sunny day broke on race day, this time held in Moths R Us in the west Edmonton mall. Albert had been getting bad press all week, and was greeted with a chorus of boos when he came to the line. He gave them the one wingtip salute. As the race started he sped confidently across the floor, then raced like lightning up the wall and across the ceiling. As he tore down the far wall he started to tire, for he had been doing no honest labour recently. Earl from Edmonton was coming out of the pack at him, spurred on by the yells of the maddened crowd. As they rounded the corner Earl started to pass him. Feeling his strength fail Albert realized how depraved he had become, and a great peace fell over him, and his staunch heart laboured, and his strong legs hurled him across the floor, and he won the race by at least an inch.

After the race he told his former friends “Go home; you disgust me. I am going to enter the world championships and win in the name of equality, liberty, fraternity, truth, justice and the American way”. And he left those who had gotten fat over his effort, never to see them again.

And he went into training, and met new friends. These friends were good of heart and were staunch, as was he. And one of them, a beautiful mothette with the lovely name Hermanetta, came to love him. And if they consummated their love, who was to blame them, for in truth they were planning to wed.

The world championships were being held in Richmond Hill Ontario [home of the David Dunlap Observatory, largest optical telescope in Canada] that year. In their joy at seeing all the moths the people lit the night sky with all their lights, to welcome the moths, and to give them a bit of a buzz. One of the citizens though was not in truth pleased. Holding his coke can he was heard to mutter “Great, just what we needed, bright lights shining off of millions of f—ing moths, must be 12 mag per square arcsecond out there, and the blasted things are so large you can’t even take advantage of lambda to the minus four” [astronomers don’t *like bright lights]. However even his heart was soon taken with the beauty of the moths and realized the error of his ways and became a radio astronomer[very in joke]. He then put a mighty arc lamp in the prime focus of the great telescope — turning it into a searchlight for all the worlds moths.

Race day, held in the cavernous men’s washroom at DDO, was cloudy; which was to be expected at DDO. Albert’s humble heart was filled with quiet pride to be representing his country. The great crowd stilled, and the race began.

Albert was quickly out of the block, but still behind the two favourites, Fortran of France, and Pascal of Poland. As they crossed the immense floor he slowly gained on them. However as they made the turn up the wall he lost ground to the tricky Europeans as they were experts in cornering. Crossing the ceiling he laboured and made up precious millimetres. He continued to gain down the next wall, and was even on the turn to the floor. Here he thought lovingly of the sweet embrace of Hermanetta, and pulled well into the lead. Looking up he saw that he was going to break the world record.

And then, a foot from the finish line, disaster. He tripped over his own feet and broke his leg. Fortran, then Pascal, and then the rest of the pack passed and beat him. He started weeping, first quietly, then with heart rending sobs as he realized the magnitude of his failure. Hermanetta came to him to console him; and while weeping, and in his anguish looked up and cried out: “What’s the matter? Haven’t you ever seen a moth ball before?”



The other story follows.

Back in the roaring twenties raccoon coats were the rage, especially among the college set in the ivy league schools. Just any raccoon coat wouldn’t do. It had to be a full length duster almost reaching the floor to really be in style. John, a young man with a very rich but miserly father who was entering his freshman year at Harvard was surprised to learn when he moved into the dorm that he just couldn’t fit in without a raccoon coat. He pleaded with his father that he just had to have a raccoon coat or would never make it at school. After several letters back and forth his father agreed to purchase a beautiful coat on one condition. The condition was that the coat must not be damaged in any way during the next four years. If there was any damage to the coat at all after four years the John would be disinherited and have to go find a job on his own. He would not be allowed to join the father in his very prosperous business.

John quickly agreed to the conditions without thinking of the implications. The father bought the best raccoon coat money could buy, then had several members of his staff count the number of hairs on the coat. They found there were exactly 1,524,203 hairs. A second group of staff members recounted and confirmed there were 1,524,203 hairs. The coat was then carefully sealed in a package and sent off to Harvard with a note informing the John of the hair count.

When John received the coat he was overjoyed that his ostracism by his fellow students was soon to end. Then he read the enclosed letter. He showed the coat to all his friend but was afraid to wear it under any circumstances for fear of damaging it in some manner. After everyone had seen the coat he resealed it in its box and placed it on the shelf in his closet. He often showed the coat to new friends but could never work up the courage to wear it until his senior year.

Harvard was playing Yale for the conference championship in football. He bought nine tickets to the game, three seats behind his, the seats to either side, and the three seats in front. He was going to be damned sure no one spilled drink or mustard on his beloved coat. He didn’t enjoy the game at all because of his concern for his coat. Immediately after the game he returned the coat to the closet where it had been for three years after carefully spending several hours recounting the hairs. All 1,524,203 were intact but after such a tedious job he made a mistake. He didn’t reseal the bag in which he had been storing the coat these many years.

During the night a campus moth crawled under the door of the closet, fluttered up onto the box and crawled inside. He had a feast but being a small moth one hair was all his tiny stomach could hold. He emerged from the box, fluttered from the closet and flew up onto the light fixture to get warm and have a nap. The next day the hapless student decided to recheck the hair-count. It took him hours but when finished he knew he was in trouble. There were only 1,524,202 hairs. He wailed in despair at the top of his lungs. All his fraternity brothers came running into the room expecting the worst. John recounted the whole story about his fathers conditions and his impending fate.

In all the commotion the little moth asleep on the light fixture awakened. He listened to the story in amazement. As the whole story unfolded the moth became terribly sad … Have you ever seen a moth bawl?

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  1. John was so distraught about the damage to his beloved coat that he treated it with an insecticide. Once he had done so, he was much less careful with storing the coat safely. One evening, he accidentally left it sitting out on the porch.

    Unfortunately, moths love raccoon hair so much that they can’t help themselves, and they began diving into the coat even with the insecticide. That evening, it became something of a moth feeding frenzy.

    Moths would eat some of the coat and then die on the spot. The frenzy was so intense that the coat was covered, all the hair was eaten, and the coat was replaced by a blanket of dead insects.

    John saw this in the morning, and was so devastated that he took his own life. At the funeral, his family thought it would be appropriate to lay the blanket over his coffin.

    It was truly a moth pall.

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