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Home: The Toast

This is George.
He lived in the forest.
He was very happy.
But he had one fault. He was too curious.
Now he is not happy. Now he has many faults.
What is your fault?
What will make you unhappy?

 

One day George saw a man.
He had on a large yellow hat.
The man saw George, too.
When a man sees you, nothing can stop him from what he will do next.
Which means it is very important not to be seen.
What do you do when someone tries to see you?

 

“What a nice little monkey,” he thought,
“I would like to take him home with me.”
The man put his hat on the ground,
and of course George was curious.
He came down from the tree
to look at the large yellow hat.
The hat had been on the
man’s head. The hat belonged
to the man. George belonged to the man now too.
Do you see how simple it is?
George picked it up
and put it on. That meant “yes.”
The hat covered George’s head. He couldn’t see. That meant yes too.
The man picked him up quickly
and popped him into a bag.
George was caught. Caught means yes. Seeing means caught. Seeing means wanting. Wanting means yes. Do you see?

 

The man with the big yellow hat
put George into a little boat,
and rowed them both
across the water to a big ship.
On the big ship, things began to happen.
Anything can happen to you. Anything can happen to you.
Anything can happen to you.
The man took off the bag. But George was still Caught.

 

George sat on a little stool, and the man said to him,
George, I am going to take you to a big city. You
will like it there.

(Was that a promise or an instruction?)
Now run along and play,
but don’t get into trouble. Be Good.

What is Good, George asked the man in the yellow hat.
Good is what I tell you to do, the man said. Good is something you will find out.
But it is easy for little monkeys to forget.
On the deck he found some sea gulls.
He wondered how they could fly.
He was very curious. George had not yet learned to be Good. He was still himself. But George cannot be both. He is going to have to choose. Which would you choose: Good or Yourself?

 

Finally he had to try.
It looked easy. I want to go, he told the birds.
I want to Go Home or I want to Just Go but I have to Go.
I am afraid to learn what Goodness is.

And the birds wheeled over his head and said nothing,
because birds are first and foremost Themselves,
and not very interested in Good, or in monkeys,
or in the little things that get caught when men want them.

 

George tumbled and fell.
“WHERE IS GEORGE?”
The sailors looked and looked. (Men help other men recover what is theirs. If you belong to a man, other men will help him find you, if you go missing. You will always be found. Does that make you feel safe?)
At last they saw him
struggling in the water,
and tired.
George no longer minded being Caught. Which meant he was as caught as caught could be.

 

“Man overboard!” the sailors cried
as they threw him a life belt.
George caught it and held on. George had to catch it to hold on. George had to hold on to be caught. George was caught and held on. George held and was held, caught and was caught. George was safe on board.
The opposite of Good is drowning.
After that, George was more careful
to be a good monkey, until at last
the long trip was over. Being a good monkey meant:
not moving, not leaving, not going away. Being good meant listening, and staying where he was put. Being good meant quiet. Being good felt tired.

 

George said good-by to the sailors,
and he and the man with the yellow hat
walked off the ship on to the shore
and on into the city to the man’s house.
The man’s house was where all of the man’s things lived.
George lived there too now.
George had a good meal, because George had been Good.
George was grateful now. George had learned to be grateful for things like eating. George had learned that being grateful kept him safe, so George was grateful always.
George felt very tired.
“May I sleep?” he asked the man in the yellow hat.
“You may sleep,” said the man in the yellow hat, who was pleased that George had learned to ask for the things he once did by himself.
George crawled into bed
and fell asleep at once.
George dreamed of nothing. This was safe.
What do you dream about?

 

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The next morning
the man telephoned the Zoo.
George watched him.
He was fascinated.
Then the man went away. (Men could do that. Monkeys couldn’t.)
George was curious. (He was not so Good that there was not still room for George too. This is dangerous. Better to be all Good, and no George.)
He wanted to telephone, too.
One, two, three, four,
five, six, seven.
DING-A-LING-A-LING!
GEORGE HAD TELEPHONED
THE FIRE STATION!
There was an emergency.
George was an emergency.
Are you an emergency?
Who can you tell about it?

 

The firemen rushed to the telephone.
“Hello! Hello!” they said.
But there was no answer. George was curious enough to dial, but not curious enough to speak. That was too much like drowning.
Then they looked for the signal
on the big map that showed
where the telephone call had come from.
They didn’t know it was George.
They thought it was a real emergency.
Maybe they would see the emergency when they saw George.
What do you call an emergency that looks just fine?

 

HURRY! HURRY! HURRY!
The firemen jumped on to the fire engines
and on to the hook-and-ladders.
Ding-dong-ding-dong.
Everyone out of the way!
Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!
The firemen rushed into the house.
They opened the door.
NO FIRE!
Only a monkey.

 

There is an emergency here, George said to the firemen.
Can’t you see it?

 

“Oh, catch him, catch him,” they cried. (Men help other men catch things.)
George tried to run away.
He could Run, but he couldn’t Go.
Do you know the difference between Running and Leaving?
George knows now.
He almost did, but he got caught
in the telephone wire, and –
a short fireman caught one arm
and a tall fireman caught the other.
“You fooled the Fire Department,”
they said. “We will have to shut you up
where you can’t do any more harm.”
But George was already shut up!
And there was already harm!
Where is the harm?
If you have very good eyes, you can see it.
Who is hurting? Who is harming?
Can you spot the hurt on the monkey?

 

They took him away
and shut him in a prison.
George wanted to get out. George always wants to get out.
Will George be happy when he gets out, do you think, or will he be happy when he stops wanting to?
He climbed up to the window
to try the bars.
Just then the watchman came in.
He got on the wooden bed to catch George.
But the watchman was too big and heavy.
The bed tipped up,
the watchman fell over,
and, quick as lightning,
George ran out through the open door.
He hurried through the building
and out on to the roof. And then
he was lucky to be a monkey.
Out he walked on to the telephone wires.
Quickly and quietly over the guard’s head,
George walked away.
He was outside, but he was still Caught.
You can be inside and Caught, or you can be outside and Caught,
but if someone has Caught you, you are Caught until they are dead.
Was the man in the yellow hat dead?

 

Down in the street,
outside the prison wall,
stood a balloon man.
A little girl bought a balloon
for her brother.
George watched.
He was curious again.
He felt he MUST have
a bright red balloon. George felt he MUST have something. George felt he MUST. George wanted it. George felt bigger all over from the wanting of it. George wanted it more than George wanted to be Good, or Uncaught, or Free, or even Home Again. George wanted something that was red, and his.
He reached over and
tried to help himself, but –
instead of one balloon,
the whole bunch broke loose. George wants things too much. How bad is your wanting?
Does it hurt, when you want?
May I tell you a secret?
Wanting always hurts.
Now you know something you didn’t before!

 

In an instant
the wind whisked them all away
and, with them, went George,
holding tight with both hands.
You can hold onto something without having it.
George was learning so many lessons. George was getting smarter.
Up, up he sailed, higher and higher.
The houses looked like toy houses
and the people like dolls.
George was frightened.
He held on very tight.
At first the wind blew in great gusts.
Then it quieted.
Finally it stopped blowing altogether.
George was very tired. George thought that perhaps he might like to die.
But he didn’t want to die as much as the man in the yellow hat wanted to catch him.

 

george

Down, down he went – bump,
on to the top of a traffic light.
Everyone was surprised.
The traffic got all mixed up.
George didn’t know what to do,
and then he heard someone call, “GEORGE!”
He looked down and saw his friend, (they were very good friends)
the man with the big yellow hat!
Well. They had to be friends. The man knew his name, didn’t he?
Someone who knows your name is your friend.
Even if his name hadn’t always been George. (Had it been?)
It was George now, and the man knew it.
Even if he didn’t know the man in the yellow hat’s name,
George was very happy to see him now.
If enough things happen to you, you can learn to love something just for being familiar. And the man in the yellow hat was familiar now. And that’s Good.
George had learned what being Good was!
What have you learned?

 

The man was happy, too.
George slid down the post,
and the man with the big yellow hat
put him under his arm. Where George belonged.
Then he paid the balloon man
for all the balloons, because the man in the yellow hat took good care of everything he owned.
And then George and the man
climbed into the car,
and at last away they went, back to the house of the man in the yellow hat.
What a nice place
for George to live!

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