Scruff Falls in Love

princessOne glorious spring day, a beggar named Scruff sat by the side of the road looking miserable. He didn’t feel miserable, on the contrary, he was smitten by the fleet of clouds that sailed across the sky and the sun that shone warmly on the grass. But alas Scruff was a beggar and misery was his stock and trade, so inspired by the exceptionally nice weather, he had to look exceptionally miserable.

“What a day to fall in love,” he mused, and no sooner had he formed that thought than the wealthiest, most beautiful girl in town came his way.

Scruff followed her progress as she climbed over a fence stile and took the fork in the road that led to the gravel pit where he begged.

With each step, Scruff fell deeper in love. He had never experience love before and it made him suspicious. It reminded him of the whiteness of the clouds and the warmth of the sun. Something that promised it would always be that way – but never was. But then there was this girl. Her hair swirled with the wind and her freckles flew like sparks across her face. Scruff soon forgot his misgivings.

“Could you spare a penny?” was all he could manage to say.

She pouted. “A penny?” Is that all you want?”

“Yes, my lady,” he stammered.

“How refreshing!” she exclaimed.

“Well… be honest, can I ask for something else?”

“You can always ask,” she said.

“Would you to sit with me?”

“It’s the least I could do,” she said, arranging her skirts to perch on a large rock beside him.

But poor Scruff had put so much effort into his career as a beggar that he was unequipped to make conversation with a beautiful girl.  He couldn’t think of a thing to say.

After a long awkward pause, she asked, “So how is business?”

“So-so,” he said.

“You must be miserable begging out here by the gravel pit where no one goes,” she said.

“Generally, that is true,” he replied.

“I admire that,” she said, “you ask for so little.”

“I have all I need,” Scruff said.

“See, that is what I am talking about,” she exclaimed, “it’s nothing like my life.”

“How so?” Scruff asked.

“You couldn’t believe how much pressure I am under to be happy.”

“Must be rough,” said Scruff.

“I only eat the best of food. No excessive calories.  No snacks.”


“I only go to the best of schools where I am taught to charming and witty.”


“Worst of all — I have to smile all the time.  If I stop smiling, everyone goes into a panic,” she said, “for once in my life, I would love to be miserable.”

“Misery does have its advantages,” Scruff said.

“It’s very romantic,” she said, gazing deeply into his eyes.

“It is,” Scruff said, gazing back.

“You must suffer terribly” she said.

“I do, I do” he said.

“To be honest, I have never experienced true misery,” she confessed.

“It’s like anything,” he said, “You have to work at it.”

“Work at it?”

“Sure, look what a beautiful day it is. Do you know how hard it is to be miserable on such a day?”

“So you are not miserable?”

“Not today, not really,” he said.

She looked stricken.

“I have all I need. Why would I not be happy?”

“You’re happy?” she exclaimed.

“Aren’t you?” he asked, staring meaningfully at her.

Her pupils grew as big as dinner plates.

“Screw that!” she said, “Haven’t you been listening to me?  I don’t want to be happy. It makes me want to puke.”

“But, but, but,” Scruff stammered.

“Happy, happy, happy…It’s boring, boring, boring,” she shouted. “All I want out of life is angst and misery and if you can’t supply it, I’ll shop elsewhere!”

With that, she snatched up her skirts and stomped off in a huff. Scruff watched helplessly as she scrambled back over the fence and raged into town.

“Lucky girl,” he said to himself, “She always gets what she wants.”

Author: Almost Iowa

15 thoughts on “Scruff Falls in Love”

  1. Well-written, but this miserable misanthrope dislikes the lesson. Pooh. Am I now to be blamed for being miserable, as well as for being poor(er)? Pooh twice over. Too easy to say “Be contented with your lot” when that is what you have: A lot. Pooh thrice over.

    1. Just for fun, I wrote a story for my writing group about a happy family who became happier over the course of the piece. The group swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker.

      “Where is the conflict?” they demanded to know.

      “Well,” I said, “I could have them fail to get a reality tv show because of their tragic lack of angst…”

      My little fable turns on this snippet.

      “To be honest, I have never experienced true misery,” she confessed.

      “It’s like anything,” he said, “You have to work at it.”

      Misery comes naturally to some and that is sad, but others have to work hard at it.

      1. Miserable events come naturally to some people’s lives, and that is sad, but others seem to be born with a lucky spoon of sugar in their mouths.

  2. If that rich girl really wants misery, send her Uncle Bardie’s way. He is the Misery Guru. After spending some time with Uncle Bardie, it is one hundred percent guaranteed that she will be miserable.

      1. Good idea. Since I have researched and practiced it, maybe I should do it. It will be a part of a series: Dumbness for Dummies and the Idiot’s Guide for Idiots. I have expertise in those areas as well.

  3. I’ve heard many times that those who live in the poorest countries and who possess the least money are the happiest.

    This tale truly caused me to pause and think today. I won’t explain further, but thank you.

  4. A splendid well crafted tale…should be read on BCC Radio with a mid Atlantic accent! You have the gift Sir! “…so much effort into his career as a beggar that he was unequipped…” was the clincher to this reader. Coincidentally we were down town this morning and my wife spotted a tramp in a doorway – one she has given stuff to previously – reading his paperback as usual. She gave him a £1 coin and asked if that was enough…he said ‘yes’. Funny old world really!

    1. Like many places, in the Twin Cities it is common to encounter the homeless panhandling at freeway entrances. They stand in the rain and bitter cold, holding up crudely lettered signs that say something to differentiate themselves from their competition. Several weeks ago, I encountered a man who held up a blank piece of cardboard. I rewarded his minimalism with $5.

      1. In fairness our bloke doesn’t beg he just sits there each and every day in the doorway of the empty shop (sometimes fast asleep) reading his books. A well spoken bloke who doesn’t seem to be an alcoholic or a druggie…strange really!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: