Painting of a Mexican man searching for cockroaches beneath the floorboards of his house.

The Man Who Looked for Cockroaches, a Mexican Parable

The Man Who Looked for Cockroaches is a modern Mexican folktale about a man who went looking for trouble. I want to call it a fable (because I prefer fables), but I suppose it’s a parable.

As is the tradition with folktales, this a telling in my own words.

The Fable

Not so long ago, a man moved into a beautiful house and was content there for many years. But one night, shortly after dark, right after he settled down for bed, perhaps because of some little noise he heard, a worry crept into his mind:

What if there are cockroaches beneath the floorboards?

The man pried up the floor to see what lay beneath, and lo he found them there, just as he had feared. 

The man was never content in his house again.

The Moral

The moral of The Man Who Looked for Cockroaches is that if you go looking for things to be upset about, you will find them, and you will be upset.

My wife, whom I love very much, is especially bad at this. She looks up images of the mites that live on our faces, watches videos of flies laying eggs in food, and reads facts about how many insects we accidentally eat every year. The only results of her efforts are that she is less happy to have a face and eat food.

You’ve probably heard proverbs to the same effect: what you don’t know can’t hurt you, ignorance is bliss, and better to let sleeping dogs lie.

If you liked this Mexican folktale, you might like a few others. The Black Sheep is perhaps the most famous. There’s also the fable of The Lobster and the Sheep. Or, if you don’t like sheep, there’s The Rabbit and the Lion.

Juan Artola Miranda

I am Juan Artola Miranda, a fabulist living in the Mexican Caribbean. My friends know me by the name of my father's father, but that name grew into something bigger, my writing reaching tens of millions of readers. It was too strong for me to control. Artola Miranda is the name of my mother's mother. It's a better name for a fabulist.

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