The Pole Vaulting Whale

A Modern Fable

Once upon a time a whale qualified for the United States Olympics Pole Vaulting Team. The Russians objected and accused the U.S. of exploiting a dumb fish for capitalistic purposes.

The whale said in song that he wasn’t a fish, that he was a mammal, and that he wasn’t dumb. To prove the latter he sang Hamlet’s soliloquy. A judging panel of Shakespearian scholars gave him a score of 2 saying it wasn’t the worst recitation they’d ever heard, but it was flawed due to improper inflection.
The Russians then claimed the Olympic rules didn’t permit whales to compete in the games. The U.S. Olympic Committee demanded the Russians show what rule, clause, paragraph, and sentence number said whales couldn’t compete. Not only did the Russians fail to find anything about whales in the rules, after examining scrolls made over 2,000 years ago they realized that technically only Greeks and Romans were allowed to enter the games.

While the Russians were discussing what tact to next take, Zeus, the God the games had been dedicated to in first place, jogged into the summit wearing a Big Name Brand (BNB®) Running Suit, the official running wear of the Olympics.

“Let the whale compete,” he proclaimed. “It will give my brother Poseidon a laugh.”

Why risk incurring the wrath of an aging god who at times could be quite cranky? All objections were put aside.

The whale had never been involved in competitive sports, and thus had the misguided notion that he would be allowed to train as he’d trained before. Actually, he’d never trained before. He just joyously frolicked. The U.S. Olympic committee frowned upon joyous frolicking.

They required him to participate in a strictly regimented training program. His days started at 4:30 am to the tone of a BNB® Alarm Clock, the official quartz timepiece of the Olympics.

Instead of swimming in the ocean for exercise, he had to workout on a BNB® Exercise Machine, the official cardio device of the Olympics.

The whale was not allowed to go bare-flippered and had to wear size EEE10 BNB® Running Shoes. They were always untied because–not having opposable thumbs–he couldn’t tie them.

Instead of filter feeding on krill, the whale had to adhere to a strict diet of BNB® Super Foods, the official foods of the Olympics.

This made the whale put on a lot of weight. By the time the games started the whale was fat. Really fat. Fatter than … well … fatter than a whale. All his extra blubber was the official fat of the Olympics.

Despite his excess tonnage he could still easily jump higher than any of his competitors.

As the whale prepared to run on the big day he tripped over his shoelaces and impaled himself on a Russian competitor’s pole. He flailed and stumbled about the Olympic village until finally coming to rest in the pool where the 100-meter butterfly swimming competition was taking place.

The U.S. Olympic committee accused the Russians of illegally harpooning a whale in international waters. While most of the world focused on the ensuing brawl, little Liechtenstein managed to make off with all the medals.

Moral of the Story: Tie your shoes before you leap.


I was cleaning out some drawers and found a bunch of fables I wrote on a manual typewriter in the 1980s. I hope to post more soon.

Whale Cartoons

Track and Running Cartoons