written by Shel Silverstein
read by Marlo Thomas
from "Free To Be ... You And Me"
Did you hear the one about the little girl who was a tender, sweet young thing?
Well, that's the way she thought of herself.
And this tender, sweet young thing spent a great deal of time just looking in the mirror and saying:
"I am a real little lady. Anybody could tell that.
I wear lovely starched cotton dresses with matching ribbons in my lovely curly locks.
I wear clean white socks and shiny black patent leather shoes, and I always put just a dab of perfume behind each ear."
When she was at the end of the lunch line at school, all she had to say was:
"Ladies first, ladies first."
And she'd get right up to the front of the line.
Well, her life went on like that for quite a while, and she wound up having a pretty good time.
You know, admiring herself in mirrors and always getting to be first in line and stuff like that.
And then one day she went exploring with a whole group of other people through the wilds of the deep and beastly jungle.
As she went along through the tangled trails and the prickly vines, she would say things like:
"I have *got* to be careful of my lovely dress and my nice white socks and my shiny, shiny shoes and my curly, curly locks, so would somebody *please* clear the way for me?"
And they did.
Or sometimes she'd say:
"What do you mean, there aren't enough mangoes to go around and I'll have to share my mango because I was the last one across that icky river full of crocodiles and snakes? No matter how last I am, it's still 'Ladies first, ladies first,' so hand over a whole mango, please."
And they did.
Well then, guess what happened?
Out of nowhere, the exploring party was seized, grabbed up by a bunch of hungry tigers!
And these tigers tied all the people up and dragged them back to their tiger lair, where they sniffed around, trying to decide what would make the best dinner.
"How about this one?" said the tiger chief.
"Nah, too boney," said the others.
"Well, what about this one? It's got a lot of meat on it!"
"Uh-uh. Meaty, but muscley."
"Oh, for heaven's sakes, don't take all night!" said the chief tiger. "I never saw such a pack of picky eaters. How about this one, then?"
"Looks tender... smells nice. In fact I never saw anything quite like it before. I wonder what it is?"
"I am a tender, sweet young thing."
"Oh, far out," said the tiger chief.
"I am also a little lady. You should know that by my lovely clothes and my lovely smell.
And if it's all the same to you, Tiger Tweetie, I wish you'd stop licking me.
And untie me this instant! My dress is getting mussed."
"Yes... uh..." the tiger said. "Well, as a matter of fact, we were all just... uh... trying to decide who to untie first."
"Ladies first! Ladies first!" she said. And so she was.
And mighty tasty, too.
Transcribed by Silvery Shoe
available on the album
Free To Be ... You And Me
also available on DVD and as a Book