Once upon a time, my Shaggy Soup Story Contest was a complete flop. ...In spite of (let's be honest here) the really irresistible challenge of writing a shaggy soup story; in spite of the opportunity to become a published author on a pretty hot soupsong website; in spite of the tantalyzing promise of prizes; in spite of all these things, the days of March clicked by...and not one submission to the Shaggy Soup Story Contest. Not one.

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Shaggy Soup Stories

(e-SoupSong 36: April 1, 2003)

ONCE UPON A TIME, my Shaggy Soup Story Contest was a complete flop.

I mean, did you ever get so focused on something that you lost all perspective on how other people might be filling their days? In spite of (let's be honest here) the really irresistible challenge of writing a shaggy soup story; in spite of the opportunity to become a published author on a pretty hot soupsong website; in spite of the tantalyzing promise of prizes; in spite of all these things, the days of March clicked by...and not one submission to the Shaggy Soup Story Contest. Not one. I finally begged a friend (who understandably prefers to remain anonymous) and threatened a co-worker (ditto). Voila, three authentic entries. The rest are mine, disguised, of course, under appropriate noms de plumes. Eric and John, prizes are on the way!

SHAGGY SOUP STORY #1 by "Etta Long"

My husband and I spend many hours every day preparing meals for our three darling pooches. They all love soup, and we do our best to cater to their national tastes.
Murphy's a Great Dane, so naturally he enjoys my home-made Danish pastry, dipped in fiske suppe (fish soup) or hønsekødsuppe (chicken soup), with plenty of spuds (we call them murphies). Our French poodle Fifi just dotes on French fries swimming in a velouté, a potage that has been thickened with a roux, moistened with a broth and then finished with butter and/or cream. Fritz the dachshund fancies zwei-bohnenensuppe (two bean soup), gulaschsuppe (goulash soup) and Frankfurter Bohnensuppe (bean soup with frankfurters).
Whenever I feed our adorable pets their favorite foods they are truly grateful. If they were cats they would be supercilious, but dogs are different. Sometimes I wonder why they wag their tails when I feed them. Is it because of the soup or silly us?

SHAGGY SOUP STORY #2 by "Historianus in extremis"

Enroute to the latest international culinary competition, the plane carrying master chefs and competition judges Mario, Jacques, Pierre, and Paul crashed into the deepest darkest jungles. Staggering out of the wreck of their plane, the rotund referees were quickly captured and tied up by the locals who had seen the plane go down. They were escorted towards a large campfire with an enormous pot hanging over a crackling fire.
Weeks later Paul staggered out of the jungle and was rescued by distressed gourmands who had been scouring the area for the missing gourmets. Asked why he escaped and his cohorts didn't, Paul replied that the natives were true connoisseurs. They recognized that too many cooks spoil the broth.

OKAY, I THINK YOU NEED A BREAK. Here are some shaggy soup brain-building exercises:

Q: Why did the chicken from the Bronx cross the road to get to the factory on the other side?
A: That chicken knew da supe.

Q: What did the Russian entrepreneur say when he had enough money to buy a hot car?
A: I vant a borshch.

Q: What do you say to a flamenco dancer who sneezes during a performance?
A: Gazpacho!

Q: What does a Greek school child say when she's trying to run through the alphabet quickly?
A: Alpha beta zup.

There, feeling better? Okay, back to the mind-numbing shaggy soup stories.

SHAGGY SOUP STORY #3 by "I. Rhoda Buss"

Jack always dreamed of becoming an astronaut, a pilot, a race car driver, the getaway guy in a bank robbery, anyone who made a living by going fast. But he was destined for a placid life. In the fullness of time, he finished school, married his childhood sweetheart, got a steady job with the Campbell's Soup factory in town, and settled down to a full and happy life raising kids and raising backyard tomatoes. Trouble was, in the back of his mind, he'd rather be raising eyebrows...and raising Cain. One fateful day he got a call from the foreman. "I need a driver for a special shipment of chicken stock, Jack," he said. "Can you do it?" "You bet I can." And from that day forward, Jack was off the plant floor and flooring the gas pedal for special soup deliveries in town. Bit by bit, he accelerated into a life on the edge. If he was out on the open road, he'd swing into the left lane and bear down on daydreaming Wonder Bread delivery trucks. If he was stopped at a light, with a Krispy Kreme donut truck next to him, he'd wink at the driver and off they'd go, even though he always lost because of the weight of all those cans of chicken stock in the back of the car. It made him crazy. He couldn't get enough of the fast lane. One day he pulled next to a Heinz truck at a red light. It was packed to the gills with beef stock. "What's the beef?" he yelled. "Up yours, you big chicken," the driver replied. And from that point on it was a death match, right to the point that Jack lost control and ran his car off the Tallahatchie Bridge, plunging his 2000 cans of chicken soup into the river below. It was a scandal and a mess. For weeks afterwards, fishermen reported that they were catching fish who breached the water clucking. The town hushed it up as much as possible. Sheriff Johnson said he had no comment to make on the investigation except, well, except that he sure thought it proved what he always said, that no good could ever come of stock car racing.

SHAGGY SOUP STORY #4 by "The Natural Workings of a Fevered Mind"

A dour and cold police officer knocked on the apartment door. The young woman knew immediately that the news was bad. "Ma’...am," he stuttered, "her...her...her last words were 'They must be fresh. They will be fresh.' The locals said she just kept diving through that hole she had chopped." "We haven’t found her yet," he continued, "it's been hours. The only thing left is that pile of male blues on top of the chunks of ice. What could she have been doing?"

"D ...d ...dinner. Seven-courses." the daughter cursed, shivering in the doorway. "That damned 'she-crab' bisque. Why did she always insist on it in the winter?" Shaking from grief and cold she slowly closed the door. As he turned, the officer heard her mutter, "Her parties always had to go from soup to nuts."

SHAGGY SOUP STORY #5 by "Lucy in disguise with dyed mints"

Farmer Jones was in need of a hired hand. His farm was big; he was getting old; too many animals to care for and most of them temperamental.
It was late in the evening when he finally dragged himself into the kitchen after feeding the horses, the pigs, the chickens, and that stubborn goat Manny.
"Honey," his careworn wife Lucy said, "Yer jist gittin too old and too slow fer this. It's gonna kill ya. Why don't you go to that place across the way and ask one of those young boys to give you a hand?"
"Sugar," Farmer Jones replied, sitting down heavily at the kitchen table and scuffing off his boots. "I cain't trust those kooks. They're hippies. They don't know their rakes from their hoes."
"Wilbur," Lucy said, "that's stupid talk. It don't take no brains to slop pigs and feed horses. It jist takes a strong back, and that's what you don't got anymore."
Farmer Jones stared at the floor for a long time. Then he sighed heavily. "I hate to say it, Lucy, but you're dead right. I'll go over in the morning."
When Farmer Jones walked up the drive to the Groovy Gate commune, he was shaking his head. Little children running all over the place without clothes on. Young couples with hand tools and horse-drawn ploughs trying to break through the bone dry sod. As he walked onto the porch, a fresh faced girl with a baby on her breast greeted him. "Wow, hi," she said. "Are you Farmer Jones?"
"Yep," he said.
"That is so cool," she said. "You look, like, so totally in tune with nature and everything."
"Yep," he said. "I'm lookin' for a boy with a strong back to help me. You got anybody?"
"Oh wow," she said. "Maybe Jeremiah. He would be, like, so honored to work for a man of the earth."
"Yep," said Farmer Jones. "Send him over tonight at sundown." "Far out," she said. "I'll tell him."
At first Farmer Jones didn't think Jeremiah was going to show up. It was dusk and time to feed the animals, and no sign of the boy anywhere. But just as he was getting out the pails, here comes a boy like he'd never seen before. Hair like a girl, tied up with a bandana. Ragged undershirt with purple splotches on it. Thin pants that got wide at the bottom. Sandals like Jesus used to wear. And a necklace! "Lucy ain't gonna believe this," he muttered under his breath.
"Hey hey hey, Farmer Jones!" the boy said.
Farmer Jones showed him what to do. "One last thing, boy," he said. "Watch out for the goat. He's got a temper on him and he likes a clean trough."
When Farmer Jones got back home, it was late and he looked tired.
"Wilbur," said Lucy, "you look beat, honey. I thought that boy was gonna be by."
"Oh he came, all right. And he did right by the horses. He did right by the chickens too. But when he came to slop the trough, he stuck his foot in it for balance and bent over to tip the pail..."
"Oh Wilbur," said Lucy, "I can see what's a'comin'."
"Yep," said Wilbur, shaking his head, "Manny just reared himself back and butted that boy clean to kingdom come. You know that goat likes everything clean and, well, to Manny, kooks soil the trough."

Ouch. I apologize.

The very least I can do at this point is send you away with an April Fool's Day soup recipe that is guaranteed to surprise your kids, your family, your guests and, well, really, anyone at all.

(Kitchen tested for true authenticity)

4 cups water
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup spaghettini noodles, broken into short lengths
2 cups Tropicana Twister Orange-Strawberry-Banana Burst juice
1 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoons broken walnut pieces, with any dark spots scraped off, chopped into little bits to look like chicken meat
2 teaspoons orange lifesavers, broken into little bits to look like carrots
1 small mint leaf, minced very fine to look like the practically nonexistent parsley in canned soup

1. Bring the water and sugar to a high boil in a large saucepan, add the noodles, reduce heat to medium and overcook, uncovered, for 20 or so minutes, until they are bloated and whitish, as they look in a can of Campbells chicken noodle soup. Drain and reserve.
2. Bring 2 cups of the Tropicana juice just to a simmer in a large saucepan, stir in the butter, walnuts, mint, and noodles.
3. When ready to serve, scrape in the orange lifesaver bits and ladle into bowls. Mmmmm mmmmmm good.

Wishing you an April Fool's Day filled with mischief,
Pat Solley

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NEXT MONTH: Alfred Hitchcock's Cinematic Soup