SHARON, MASS. — Publishers are busily revising the children's edition of William Bennett's "Book of Virtues." Some excerpts:
One morning, three bears left their house for a walk. A little girl came by and noticed three bowls of porridge in their house. She tasted from the first and said, "This is too hot." She tasted from the second: "This is too cold." She looked at the third bowl and said, "I bet this one is just right." Calculating that the odds now favored her, she took a big spoonful. She was correct. So she ate that porridge right up.
Moral: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. And always take the complimentary food.
An industrious hen on a farm in Connecticut spotted a bag of rye. She planned to make bread.
"Who will help me?" the hen asked. "Not I," answered the fox, shouting from the window of the Barnyard Sun Casino and Resort, where he was playing the slots.
The hen carried the bag to her kitchen: "Who will help me mix the rye?" "Not I," said the fox.
The hen mixed and asked, "Who will help me bake it?" "Not I," shouted the fox.
The hen kneaded the dough and placed it in the oven. When it was ready, she asked, "Who will help me eat it?" She expected the fox would say, "I will." Then she would have rebuked him for greed, sloth, and abandoning Western values.
But just then, a hostess brought the fox a free drink, for he was a preferred customer. He forgot about the bread and drank on the house. That night, he won most of his money back on video poker.
Moral: Hard work's fine, but nothing beats a royal flush and a complimentary beverage.
Once, a very important man in Washington did something very dumb with a much younger woman. Other important men said the man was bad. One of these important men was famous and rich for saying what was bad and telling people who did bad things they should quit their jobs.
The first very important man kept his job. Which outraged the second very important man so much he got even richer complaining about the first man.
Later, reporters said the second very important man enjoyed gambling. He said it was OK, because he'd never actually said gambling was bad. (His think tank had. But, when it did, the man crossed his fingers behind his back.)
The man's friends said his gambling didn't hurt anyone, so he should keep his job making $50,000 speeches scolding other people about bad things they shouldn't do. And no one was outraged.
Moral: What's good for the goose is good for the gambler.
• Matthew Keenan is a freelance writer.