Friday, April 28, 2017

X11. Red pepper for the slow ass (WTF - Weird Things in Folktales)

Welcome to my A to Z Challenge blog series titled WTF - Weird Things in Folktales! Find the introduction post (explaining the theme) here. Find all other participating blogs in the comments of each day's post on the main blog! You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

X in the Motif Index stands for Humor. You would think it would be an endless chapter, but actually it is not all that long. It includes jokes, lies, Münchhausen tales, and the favorite practical jokes of various tricksters ("X34. - Use of itch-producing ointment"). Among them I found a story that my grandfather used to tell... as if it happened to him.

(You know you grew up in the oral tradition when you read folktales and go "But... Grandpa told me he did that!!!")

X11. Red pepper for the slow ass

To my endless surprise, this is originally a Nasreddin Hodja story (I always knew Grandpa was a professional trickster). 

The Hodja has a very stubborn donkey. He goes out to cut firewood, but the donkey refuses to move on the way home. A man rides by on a very vigorously prancing donkey, and the Hodja asks him how he made the animal move so quickly. For a small fee, the man agrees to tell the Hodja his secret.

"Once you are done loading up the firewood, buy some red pepper, and smear it on the donkey's butt. Then you'll see how fast he goes."

The Hodja does just that. The moment the red pepper starts burning, the donkey shoots down the road, running towards home. The Hodja realizes he can't keep up... so he decides to use the same trick on himself. Lo and behold, it works. The Hodja runs so fast that he overtakes the donkey, and gets home first. His wife is in the doorway, and she hears him yelling as he runs past:

"The donkey is right behind me! Please unload him while I run a couple of times around the village..."

(To be clear, my Grandpa claimed to be the other guy, not the Hodja.)

(Found the story in English here, in German here, and in Hungarian here.)

X31.2. Pig licks sleeping man’s lips: man thinks he is being kissed
X142.1. Dwarf king falls into porridge-pot at court of human king
X222. Tailor always associated with goat
X351. Music teacher charges double for those who have taken music before
X372.3. Eyedrops prescribed for stomach ache so that patient can see what he eats
X372.4.1. Man with cheeks stuffed with food operated on to remove swellings
X413. One-eyed parson in dimly lighted church joins the wrong couples
X435.3. Parson: Where was Christ when he was neither in heaven nor on earth?--He was in the willow-grove looking for a stick to beat those who ask foolish questions
X651. Battle between lice of Strassburg and of Hungary
X1280.1.1. Bumblebees imported to rout mosquitoes; the two insects crossbreed and have stingers on both ends


  1. I think I'd better move on before I start on an obvious pun here...

  2. Totally adorable tale! Your grandpa was a lot like my daddy, who loved to tell a "whooper". I love him without ever seeing him.

    Is this Münchhausen anything like Münchhausen syndrome?

    Oh, my daddy had a jenny he plowed with, and she'd do almost anything if he just made a clicking noise. For the few times she wouldn't, he'd simply show her a whip.
    Perspectives at Life & Faith in Caneyhead

  3. Poor donkey. I always feel sorry for it when it gets chilly smeared on its ass. But I tell you which of the runner up stories I enjoyed - eye drops prescribed for stomach ache.
    Xenophobia #Lexicon of Leaving

  4. I think I would draw the line at applying the pepper to myself after seeing how much discomfort the donkey was in. But hey, maybe that's just me.

    The lice battle sounds interesting. It makes for a funny mental image anyway.
    Discarded Darlings - Jean Davis, Speculative Fiction Writer, A to Z: Editing Fiction

  5. That is the funniest little story. I enjoy your posts a lot, you sharing some of the best stories and they have all been new to me. Great post, thanks for sharing.
    Stopping by from A to Z: X words

  6. poor donkey. i feel sorry for it. not so much the guy. but the pig licking guys lips made me giggle. that image was just funny.

  7. poor donkey; the Hodja looks abnormally large w/ his turban on the poor donkey in that drawing.

    Joy @ The Joyous Living


  8. Just tries it on himself... gawddanggit, the damn donkey knows the way home! Let him go! You'll going to make your wife unload it anyway, you'll catch up eventually.

    X - Brother XII, Canada's Own Crazy Cultist!

  9. I think that's the best kind of folktale, one that's been repeated through the years to the point where it's still being told as if it happened to the teller.

    The bumblebee/mosquito story sounds pretty interesting, too.

  10. Was about to write my comment and then I read what C.D. Gallant-King's written above. Ha! and Ha!
    Your grandpa sounds absolutely adorable.
    X is for X shaped stitches on a Xmas stocking

  11. Haha I grew up on Nasruddin stories, in my place he's known as Molla Nasruddin and he's always portrayed as a local man. Your grandfather sounds rather like my uncle...

    Among the ru's - lip licking pig and delusional man get my vote. Can't believe there are only two more to go.

  12. That was a fun story. The pig kissing reminded me of when I was in high school raising pigs. To get the little pigs friendly to me I would sit on a milk crate in the pen and make kissing noises to get them come closer. I have a picture of one coming towards me with puckered lips. Girl Who Reads

  13. I love that this was your grandfather's tale.

  14. I'd be loath to apply anything to any animal's rear end, though if it were red peppers, I'd have to wear gloves to not have burning skin myself!

  15. That is a funny tale, but I feel bad for the poor donkey.

  16. LOL! I was wonderign how you grandpa managed that fire ;-)

    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

  17. I love how your grandfather told you this story as a real story. The poor donkey, but at least the guy used the peppers on himself, so it feels more fair.

    The bumblebee/mosquito hybrid thing made me laugh.

    A to Z 2017: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

  18. Lol! I love that he'd rather run around town a couple of times instead of just washing the red pepper away hehe. And that's so neat that your Grandpa told you this story before! :D

    Here's my "X" post :)

  19. Is "Tailor always associated with goat" a polite way of saying "Tailor accused of having sex with goats? Because iirc that was the original joke before it got lost in time.

    I think todays story illustrates well the misconceotion that Nasreddin Hodjar is supposed to be a smart person acting like a fool in order to teach lessons. That may be one version of him, but surely not the only one.