The Sign of the Tassel

Once there was a man who married and took a wife. Every few days he would return home in a temper and she would feel badly about it.


She said. “Oh, my Husband, this will never do. You are often in a temper. You come home in a very bad temper.”


“Yes’, he said. “Things go on in the town that upset me and I come home in a temper.”


“But this will never do, because I also have a very bad temper. If we are both in a bad temper on the same day, who knows what may happen? You must give me a sign so that I know you are coming home in a temper so that I’ll make allowances for you.”


“Yes”, he said, “you are right. That"s a good idea.”


In those olden days the men used to wear on their heads a red fez with a long black tassel hanging down at the side. So he said “I’ll put the tassel of my fez toward the front on the day that I am coming home in a temper, and when you see the tassel hanging at the front you"ll know that I am in a temper and whatever I say, or whatever my words may be, you mustn"t feel bad or take them to heart.”
She said, “That"s a good idea. But, when I am in a temper, what about that? I"ll also give you a sign.” She did this purposely to help him get rid of his bad habit. She told him, “I"ll wear a white apron, and when you see me wearing a white apron you"ll know I am in a temper and you must put up with me.”


He said, “All right.”


She began to wait for him every day about the time of his return and to watch for him from the window. She could look out and see, when he reached the top of the street, if he had put the tassel at the front of his fez. When she saw him come stamping along with the tassel swinging back and forth at the front of his fez like the tail on the rump of an elephant, she would quickly get out her white apron and put it on. When her husband came in and saw her wearing the white apron he moved the tassel to the side of his fez, for it wouldn"t do for both of them to be in a temper at the same time, or they might beat one another. So he gave in. Time after time, once, twice, thrice, the same thing happened, until the husband said, “Oh, Wife, your fits of temper come at the same time as my fits of temper. They come together!”


“Oh, my Husband”, she said, “give up your bad habit and I will give up mine. A temper does no good. Allah has given human beings wis¬dom, but temper drives out wisdom. If you are in a temper in the city, what excuse have you for coming home in a temper? So my tem¬per goes with your temper. But I can control and put aside my temper. I beg you also to put aside your temper and not to bring it home with you.”


He said, “Indeed, you are quite right.” So from that time onward he did not put his tassel at the front of his fez and he gave up his temper just as his wife had suggested that he should, and they lived happily ever after and neither he nor she gave way to their tempers.