Last week I began reposting a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. It’s of a 1915 children’s book, The Tale Of Fatty Coon. There’s very little about our lead character’s name that I like, even granting that he is a fat raccoon. But, I figure to post a chapter a week through at least to chapter ten. In Chapter I, we met Fatty, learned he was a raccoon, and that he likes to eat. This week, we start to learn that Arthur Scott Bailey doesn’t actually like his protagonist.
So, besides Fatty’s name, there’s a lot of fat jokes in here. I want to say that when I wrote this (mostly back in 2016) I was just rolling with what the source material gave me. But that isn’t actually an excuse and you folks who don’t need that stuff in your recreational reading? You are so very right. I apologize for the imposition and hope we can catch up after this is done.
While riffing this I made a joke about how in the (made-up) Tale of Squawky Crow Fatty is a villain. And then I discovered that in Bailey’s The Tale Of Frisky Squirrel, also published 1915, he is. In Chapter XIV, Fatty intrudes on the Squirrel family, eats all the beechnuts they had saved for winter, and gets trapped by his own fatness in their home.
Felix Salten did way better having his delightful animal characters make cameo appearances in others’ books.
TOM: Episode II: Attack Of The Coons.
> FATTY LEARNS SOMETHING ABOUT EGGS
CROW: ‘Hey! These things break open!’
> When Fatty Coon started off alone to find something more to
> eat, after finishing the fish that his mother had brought home for
> him, he did not know that he was going to have an adventure.
MIKE: He just hoped adventure came with cheese fries.
> He nosed
> about among the bushes and the tall grasses and caught a few bugs and
> a frog or two. But he didn’t think that THAT was much.
CROW: [As Bug] Oh, thank goodness, that frog was gonna eat me and now … Wait, what are you doing?
> He didn’t seem
> to have much luck, down on the ground. So he climbed a tall hemlock,
TOM: A hemlock?
CROW: I dunno, it’s probably some nature thing.
> to see if he could find a squirrel’s nest, or some bird’s eggs.
MIKE: ‘Maybe I can eat a hemlock?’
> Fatty loved to climb trees. Up in the big hemlock he forgot,
> for a time, that he was still hungry. It was delightful to feel the
> branches swaying under him, and the bright sunshine was warm upon his
CROW: ‘You suppose the sun might be cookie-flavored?’
> He climbed almost to the very tip-top of the tree and wound
> himself around the straight stem. The thick, springy branches held him
> safely, and soon Fatty was fast asleep.
TOM: The tree tipping over, cracking under the weight.
> Next to eating, Fatty loved
> sleeping. And now he had a good nap.
CROW: ‘A nap with bacon cheese!’
> Fatty Coon woke up at last, yawned, and slowly unwound himself
> from the stem of the tree. He was terribly hungry now. And he felt
> that he simply MUST find something to eat at once.
TOM: Why is Mitchell a raccoon?
> Without going down to the ground, Fatty climbed over into the
> top of another big tree and his little beady, bright eyes began
> searching all the branches carefully.
CROW: ‘Too flimsy, too weak, that one’ll snap, that one broke yesterday, that one snapped when I thought about it too hard, hm. Ground broke under me there.’
> Pretty soon Fatty smiled. He
> smiled because he was pleased.
TOM: It was a quirky habit of his.
> And he was pleased because he saw
> exactly what he had been looking for. Not far below him was a big
> nest, built of sticks and lined with bark and moss.
CROW: ‘Garnished with bark and moss!’
> It was a crow’s
> nest, Fatty decided, and he lost no time in slipping down to the
> crotch of the tree where the nest was perched.
> There were four white eggs in the nest—the biggest crow’s eggs
> Fatty had ever seen.
MIKE: That’s an ostrich egg, look out!
> And he began to eat them hungrily. His nose
> became smeared with egg, but he didn’t mind that at all.
TOM: Yum, egg-flavored nose!
> He kept
> thinking how good the eggs tasted—and how he wished there were more of
MIKE: You know in the _Tale of Squawky Crow_, Fatty is one of the villains.
> There was a sudden rush through the branches of the tall tree.
> And Fatty Coon caught a hard blow on his head. He felt something sharp
> sink into his back, too.
TOM: There it is!
MIKE: Squawky Crow takes over the narrative! He’s getting to be the hero!
> And he clutched at the edge of the nest to
> keep from falling.
> Fatty was surprised, to say the least, for he had never known
> crows to fight like that.
TOM: They normally confined themselves to snarky comments, often on the Internet.
CROW: The cowards! Hey, wait.
> And he was frightened, because his back
> hurt. He couldn’t fight, because he was afraid he would fall if he let
> go of the nest.
MIKE: And there was still that meteoric crater lake from the last time he dropped four feet.
> There was nothing to do but run home as fast as he could.
CROW: Fatty’s greatest challenge: running.
> Fatty tried to hurry; but there was that bird, beating and clawing his
> back, and pulling him first one way and then another.
TOM: [ As Fatty ] Ow! Look, if you want me to go *one* way then don’t tug me *another*! Sheesh!
> He began to
> think he would never reach home. But at last he came to the old poplar
> where his mother lived.
CROW: ‘Home! Safety! Security! Oatmeal cookies!’
> And soon, to his great joy, he reached the
> hole in the big branch; and you may well believe that Fatty was glad
> to slip down into the darkness where his mother, and his brother
> Blackie, and Fluffy and Cutey his sisters, were all fast asleep.
MIKE: You my believe this … If you dare!
> was glad, because he knew that no crow could follow him down there.
CROW: To fit Fatty the hole has to be just wide enough to let a Space Shuttle slp through.
> Mrs. Coon waked up.
> She saw that Fatty’s back was sadly torn
> (for coons, you know, can see in the dark just as well as you can see
> in the daylight).
CROW: What if I need glasses?
MIKE: Well, then she wears glasses.
CROW: That … Would be adorable.
> "What on earth is the matter?" she exclaimed.
> Poor Fatty told her. He cried a little, because his back hurt
> him, and because he was so glad to be safe at home once more.
TOM: ‘Well, come here, son, let me lick that all. Nothing like raccoon spit to clean open wounds.’
> "What color were those eggs?" Mrs. Coon inquired.
> "White!" said Fatty.
> "Ah, ha!" Mrs. Coon said. "Don’t you remember that crows’ eggs
> are a blueish green?
MIKE: Oh no!
TOM: Fatty’s failure to prep for his Raccoon SAT’s haunts him!
CROW: *My* eggs are painted a lovely variety of colors in intricate patterns!
TOM: Ya freak.
> That must have been a goshawk’s nest. And a
> goshawk is the fiercest of all the hawks there are. It’s no wonder
> your back is clawed.
MIKE: [ Mrs Coon ] ‘Why is this scratch covered in Superman ice cream?’
CROW: [ Fatty ] It was an experiment, okay?
> Come here and let me look at it."
> Fatty Coon felt quite proud, as his mother examined the marks
> of the goshawk’s cruel claws.
MIKE: ‘I got attacked and ran away just fast enough! Heck, I ran!’
TOM: I ran so far away.
> And he didn’t feel half as sorry for
> himself as you might think,
> for he remembered how good the eggs had
> tasted. He only wished there had been a dozen of them.
MIKE: So what did Fatty learn about eggs, exactly?
CROW: That … He can eat them?
[ To Continue … ]