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Round and round the cobbler’s bench
The monkey chased the weasel
The monkey thought it was all in fun
Pop! goes the weasel.

A penny for a spool of thread
A penny for a needle
That’s the way the money goes
Pop! goes the weasel.

Every night when I get home
The monkey’s on the table
Take a stick and knock it off
Pop! goes the weasel.

 

You may have heard the song involving a weasel who goes “Pop!” around pointy shoe-maker’s tools and imagined a scenario where the marsupial pricks his toe and bursts like a balloon.  A closer inspection, however, reveals a much more harrowing tale.

This juicy drama unfolds, like most juicy dramas, around a cobbler’s bench.  The monkey, easily two to four times the weasel’s size, thought it would be hilarious to chase the skinny bastard around a bench littered with picks, nails and other terribly sharp objects.  It’s possible the weasel has been putting up with this abuse for years.

So what happens when the weasel goes Pop!?  What makes that sound, that could stop a big bully in her tracks?  What could a lightweight do to save himself in such a situation?

Please don’t tell me you think the answer is “spontaneous weasel combustion.”  This is the timeless story of a weasel’s firing off his very first handgun.

The word “cobbler” is most commonly interpreted to mean a shoe-maker.  But the other kind of cobbler may be more relevant – the kind of illegal professional who creates false passports, visas, and other documents.  So we have an innocuous shoe-repair shop fronting a darker, more lucrative side-trade.  No wonder the monkey’s such a brute; she’s not just some ill-trained pet.  She’s the cobbler’s enforcer.

Giddy with exhilaration after firing his first gun, the strapped marsupial takes off on a terror spree.  The next stanza describes penny-thieving and apparently shaking down street merchants.  Not too far a leap from forgery, after all.

In the last line, we learn that the monkey who blithely bullied his co-worker is held in check only with nightly beatings-by-stick.  Unfortunately for the cobbler, and for the monkey, there’s a new sheriff in town.  With a final Pop! the weasel kills his old boss and gets to setting up a more ambitious outfit.

If you’re skeptical that the song’s about the seedy underworld inhabited by douchebag animals, just listen to this lesser-known alternative verse:

Jimmy’s got the whooping cough

And Timmy’s got the measles

That’s the way the story goes

Pop! goes the weasel.

 

You see?  It’s only a matter of time under the weasel’s dictatorship before we’ve got to tell stories about Jimmy and Timmy contracting deadly diseases.  The Pop! tells us that’s not how they died – but that’s the story we’re going to go with.

 

Case regretfully closed.