Context: I asked my friend if he had any tales he remembered his family telling him when he was a child.
Here’s a tale that my mother used to tell me. It involves a frog and a scorpion. And one day, the frog was on his way home, and he happens upon a scorpion at the shore of a pond, well, the bank of a pond. And the scorpion says to the frog, “Mr. Frog, I’m very very tired today. I’m very tired. Perhaps, if it’s not too much trouble, you could ferry me across the lake.”
And the frog looks at him, and goes, “Mr. Scorpion, I would love to help you out, but you’re a scorpion, and I’m a frog, and surely, by the time I get to the middle of the lake, you will sting me, and I will die.”
And the scorpion looks at him and goes, “No! Mr. Frog, why would I do that? If I were to sting you in the middle of the lake, we would both surely drown! I cannot swim ,you are my boat, why would I do that?”
And the frog thinks about it, and the frog is a bit nervous, but is of a good nature, and decides to help the scorpion. So he scoots along the shore, the scorpion crawls on his back and the frog starts swimming. and then they get to the middle of the pond, and the frog begins to think, “I guess that the scorpion won’t sting me. It makes perfect sense.” And all of a sudden, when he gets to the middle, he feels a sharp pain in his back. Wham! The scorpion has stung the frog. And the frog, as he struggles, his limbs, his legs are getting heavy, and he starts to go under, and he goes, “Why Mr. Scorpion, Why did you sting me? Now we will both surely drown.”
And the scorpion goes, “I don’t know, I guess it’s just my nature.”
This tale has a couple of morals. The first of which is to always trust your instincts. If it sounds like a bad idea, then it probably is a bad idea. The second is to beware of the consequences of your promises, and of the always-present potential that the other person can back-stab you. This tale was told to the informant growing up in an African-American community, and was told to him, many times, when he was a child. This is a tale that would be used to teach young children of the dangers in promises, and in providing aid to strangers.
For another version of the tale, see The Lady Frog and the Scorpion. Phantom House. The Phantom Publisher, 2010. Print.