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'The Old Man Who Loved Cheese'


Editor's note: Wallace P. Flynn loves smelly cheese so much that his family leaves him, his pets can't stand to be around him and even the skunks have to move.

There was an old man named Wallace P. Flynn

Who lived in a house in the trees --

You could smell him for several miles downwind

Because of his fondness for cheese.

For the cheese that was dear to W.P.

Was not the mild kind, such as Brie,

The cheese of polite society --

No, he liked cheese that was in your face!

That smelled like socks from a marathon race,

Cheese that really stank up the place!

His wife knelt down and begged him, "Please,

Have mercy, Wallace, and change your cheese!"

His son said, "Cheese makes your breath so bad,

It smells like death to be near you, Dad!"

His daughter asked him, "What is the sense of

Eating cheese that is so offensive?"

Said Wallace P., "It's offensive to you

But cheese cheers me up when I am blue.

I don't know why, but a nice sharp cheddar

Makes me feel a whole lot better!

A Limburger or Emmentaler

Makes me grin and jump and holler!

And oh, the pleasure!

Of a slice of Cheshire!

Some men want fame and their name on marquees.

Some men love money. I choose cheese."

So his daughter moved to Oklahoma

To escape the aroma;

And his son ran off to Arkansas,

Which has a Halitosis Law;

And his wife, Louise,

Sailed away to the Hebrides

Islands, where an ocean breeze

Steadily blows night and day

And drives unpleasant smells away.

With all his family gone, Wallace P. Flynn

Lost all of his self-discipline.

He ate cheese morning and night,

Cheese so strong that his hair turned white.

He walked around with a cheesy grin,

He'd drive his truck to town and park it

In front of Easy Ed's Used Cheese Market.

Easy Ed was a skinny old geezer,

With little green eyes and a great big beezer,

Who sold old cheese that he stored in rooms

Deep underground in cool, dark tombs,

Cheese that was covered with thick green mold.

Some of the cheese was twenty years old!

Wallace P. Flynn drove his load of cheese

Back to his lonely house in the trees --

To him, it smelled like fresh spring blooms,

Sweet and pure and good and rich --

While other drivers swerved into the ditch,

Overcome by deadly fumes.

He wrapped the cheese in a burlap sack

And buried it deep in a hole in the back

And covered it up and put in a pipe,

So he could smell when the cheese got ripe.

And when it began to gurgle and squish

And bubble and burble and smell like dead fish,

He heard the gurgles and bubbles and squishes

And cried, "By George! It smells delicious!"

The smell was so awful, so sour and vile,

The skunks had to go and lie down for a while.

The squirrels picked up all the nuts they had squirreled

And moved to a distant part of the world.

One day, a pig stood up on its haunches

And fell over flat on its back, unconscious.

The smell became so fetid and rank,

The mailman bought an oxygen tank.

Good heavens, how the neighborhood stank!

Excerpt from THE OLD MAN WHO LOVED CHEESE by Garrison Keillor, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. Text copyright c 1996 by Garrison Keillor. Illustrations copyright c 1996 by Anne Wilsdorf. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company (Inc.)

Pub Date: 03/14/99

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