*The theme for my A to Z is Childhood Stories. Some are real, some are embellished, some are downright fictional but are based on the kind of things I imagined when I was younger.*
Hell hath no fury like that of a donkey scorned.
Since my grandparents’ garden was rather large, they had a few sheep to keep the grass at a decent level. They also had a donkey, because, why not?
This donkey was a female called Mibée; and she adored Bon-Papa, my grandfather. If he sat in the living room, she’d be standing outside the living room window, watching him read. If he moved to his study, she trotted around the house until she could gaze at him adoringly through that window.
We never quite understood why Mibée was so fascinated with him. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Bon-Papa is a very charming man, but nobody expected said charm to extend to donkeys. Nonetheless, it did.
Overall Mibée led a pretty happy life: she had all the grass she could eat, sheep to look at contemptuously, and a man she adored to follow around. There was, of course, a few minor inconveniences, such as the occasional tug of war as my parents, having plopped me and my brother on her back, valiantly tried to convince her to move forward (I think the record was about ten meters), but that never bothered her much. She would simply wait until my parents got tired or too frustrated to continue, before wandering away to stare once more at Bon-Papa.
There was, however, one blight in her life, one cloud on her horizon, one thorn at her side.
Manou, my grandmother.
Sadly for Mibée the intensity of her affections for Bon-Papa weren’t quite reciprocated, and she found herself usurped at every turn by this other woman. When she tried to enter the house to follow and gaze at Bon-Papa more closely, there was Manou, ready to kick her back out into the garden. This did not sit well with her, oh not at all.
Being a donkey of initiative, she took matters into her own hooves to make it clear that enough was enough already, Manou had to leave and let her and Bon-Papa get on with their lives.
Mibée began to pee strictly, and only, outside the kitchen windows — said kitchen in which Manou spent a lot of time, and said windows which were open year round on account of the mild weather and fresh air. If you haven’t ever smelt it, let me tell you that donkey urine doesn’t smell like roses. Or geraniums for that matter. Or any kind of flower. It is distinctly unpleasant.
Manou wasn’t happy (we thought it was hilariously gross, but I can now appreciate that having a donkey privy outside your kitchen window is far from ideal). Still she stayed and continued thwarting Mibée.
There was nothing for it, Mibée had to up the ante.
The kitchen had a door that led onto the terrace (this is the door we would go through carrying our bowls of chocolat chaud for the petit déjeuner.) Said door had a door handle that, to the giant ears of a donkey, was about Q-tip in size. Mibée decided to use it as such. Every other day she would leave a….shall we say, ‘waxy’ surprise for Manou to find on trying to enter the kitchen from the garden. Mibee only did this to the kitchen door handle, the rest of the house remained earwax-free.
You have to give it to Mibée — she really did try. Sadly for her, the intolerable love triangle continued until her death — Manou remained, and Mibée remained relegated to the garden. It was one of those great frustrated love stories, to rival that of the of the Duchess of Devonshire.
Surprisingly, it has not been the subject of a lengthy book or film, unlike the Duchess of Devonshire’s unfortunate marital circumstances. I’m sure that, had she still been alive, Mibée would have had something to say to the publishing houses who failed to commission a book about her tragic story. She’d probably have peed outside their office door to let them know her discontent.
This story is, by the way, completely true.