The Blind Side Parables – 11

Goldilocks stared at the big banner in the window of the Three Bears Mattress Company store.

“Try us, comfort guaranteed.”

Having missed a good night’s sleep for over a week, she didn’t hesitate and pushed open the door.

Studying her teenage fashion magazine, the girl at the reception counter never looked up as Goldilocks passed by. She stopped chewing her gum long enough to mutter, “Go ahead, look around. I’m here if you have questions.”

“Fat chance,” thought Goldilocks as she hurried past, eyes scanning the large showroom and what seemed like an infinite sea of mattresses.

*  *  *

It was an hour later when the three bear brothers returned from lunch. Miles, the oldest, who had enjoyed his usual meatloaf sandwich, queried the counter girl.

“What’s up, Celeste, sold any mattresses while we were gone?”

The girl looked up from her magazine and shrugged. She obviously had no future in sales, but she was the best hire the brothers could make quickly after their last receptionist had won the lottery.

Giles, the middle brother, rubbed his furry stomach contentedly. He’d really enjoyed the broccoli soup and steak sandwich special. Sure, these long lunches were noticeably expanding his girth, but he jokingly told his wife he was fattening up for hibernation.

Her retort was that urban bears no longer needed to hibernate. True, but Grandpa Bear had known all about hibernation. He’d come to the big city from the wilderness and started the family mattress business with the slogan, “Come to Bear Mattress, we know sleep.”

The company was now in its third generation and Junior, the youngest of the brothers and most financially astute, was the CEO. He was also the only brother who paid any attention to his diet, if only because his fiance, Brownie, was always nagging him about his weight. Today, he’d forced himself to endure another green salad with tuna and avocado. Looking around the store, something caught his eye in the far corner. He went to investigate.

Under the big “Our Bear Best” sign, three mattresses lay in disarray. Sure enough , someone had been trying them out. The California King was rumpled with tossed pillows and sheets. Beside it, the Standard King, was also a mess. Junior moved to the Queen size mattress which was covered with a mound of pillows and blankets. He noticed a pair of well worn sneakers at the foot of the bed. Gently lifting the corner of a blanket, he saw two feet clad in socks with holes in the heels. He softly set the blanket down and poked at the mound of covers.

Something moaned. Junior backed up in surprise. Then, poked again.

“Hey, cut it out, can’t you see I’m taking a nap?”

Max and Giles joined Junior as he pulled back a blanket to reveal a head of golden curls. a head which suddenly turned and snarled at them.

“What kind of clip joint is this? The sign out front says ‘try us” and that’s exactly what I’m doing!”

“Well of course,” stammered Junior, “take all the time you want.”

The awakened girl propped herself up on her elbows, “Is this an inner spring or foam mattress?”

“Foam,” replied Junior, quickly slipping into sales mode.

“Memory foam or not?”

“Memory, of course.”

“How many layers of foam?”

“Four, graded from firm at the bottom to soft on top.”

The girl pondered, “Nice. And how much for the Queen?”

“$950 delivered.”

“I’ll pay $500, not a penny more.”

Junior stroked his chin as his brothers watched a master in action. “You drive a hard bargain,” countered Junior.

“Take it or leave it, bear.”

“And where will we deliver the mattress?”

This seemed to stop the girl cold, there was no answer.

Junior continued, “Will that be cash or credit?”

Goldilocks came back to life, “You can’t deliver the mattress because I’m homeless and I can’t pay with cash or credit because I’m broke.”

She threw off the blankets and bent down to put on her shoes, then looked up and said, “But I’ve got to give you guys credit, this has been my best sleep in days. You’ve got an excellent line of merchandise. Your prices are reasonable but I think you could add to your profits by pushing your pillows and linens .”

With that, Goldilocks stood up and headed for the front door.

The three brothers looked at each other, smiled, then Junior called out-

“Wait!”

And so Three Bears Mattress Company hired the most prolific salesperson in the history of the franchise. Franchise? Yes, due to Goldilocks’ spectacular success in selling mattresses and related wares, both in store and online, the company soon expanded to a profitable chain with outlets all across the Rocky Mountain West.

No, Celeste did not find fame and fortune as a fashion designer. Last seen, she was chewing gum and packing boxes at an amazon distribution center.

Moral: The truth shall set you free or, at least, it might get you a job in sales.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blind Side Parables – 10; Taxi School

The Blind Side Parables – 10

Lizzie was frustrated. Once again, her domineering mother had put her in an impossible position. As she had many times before, her mom had bragged about her daughter’s talents, how Liz could do anything she set her mind to, leaving her to prove she was, indeed, special.

“Oh, my Liz is a whiz at spelling. Go ahead, dear, spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

And the dutiful daughter did.

“Oh, my Lizzie can jump rope for hours and hours. Go ahead, sweetheart,  jump rope.”

And that’s what Liz did for hours and hours and . . .

But this time, her mother had gone too far. This time, Mom had gotten the ear of the king, and eager to impress him, had taken up the king’s impossible challenge.

“Can your daughter turn this room full of straw into gold?” he’d asked, thinking this question would certainly shut the mouthy woman up.

“Of course she can,” replied the boastful mother, “my Lizzie can do anything.”

“Fine,” said the king, motioning for a guard to push the distraught Liz into the straw filled room and lock the door behind her.

“But…” retorted the mother, suddenly realizing the predicament her bragging had created.

The king parted with, “I’ll be back in the morning for the gold. If it’s not here, off comes her head.”

Liz looked around the room, empty except for a mound of straw and a loom. The straw would have made for a nice night’s sleep, except the coming morning did not promise to be pleasant.

Shazam!

A cloud of smoke appeared in the room, along with a strong smell of men’s aftershave. A deep voice spoke from within the cloud.

“Well, Lizzie, seems you have a problem.”

Then, much to the surprised girl’s amazement, a dwarf stepped out of the mist. He had a large, bulbous nose with a wart on its tip, a line of dark eyebrows that stretched across his forehead, unruly hair poking out from under a New York Mets baseball cap, and a smile that revealed a mouthful of yellowed crooked teeth. He wore a sweatshirt that announced “Life’s too short to drink cheap beer,” jeans with patches on the knees, and black high topped tennis shoes with pink shoe laces.

Open mouthed, Liz was still gaping when the visitor, hands on hips, announced, “I’m here to help.”

Dumbfounded, Lizzie stared in disbelief, then shrieked, “Help! Are you kidding me? Like you can turn this pile of straw into gold?!”

Unfazed, the little man simply replied, “No problem.”

Losing it, Lizzie screamed, “Too much! My big mouthed mother tells the king I can turn straw into gold and then a pint size guy appears in a puff of smoke, reeking of Bay Rum, and says ‘No problem.’”

Liz buried her head in her hands and sobbed.

The dwarf did not reply, instead, he sat down at the loom, took up a handful of straw, and with a few words and some razzle dazzle, began weaving. Moments later, he handed Liz a small piece of finely woven  fabric.

She stopped crying and fingered the fabric, then muttered a single amazed word-

“Gold.”

The dwarf just smiled.

Her second word was, “How?”

“My mother was a witch and my dad a tailor, and I spent awhile in a textile mill in Bangladesh.”

Lizzie’s third word was, “Wow!” Then she erupted with a series of questions.

  *  *  *

It was morning when the door was unlocked and creaked open. There stood the king, with Liz’s mom beside him. He looked into the room. The straw was gone and there stood Liz, smiling, holding up a stunning gold tunic.

“Will this do?” she asked helping the astonished king into the dazzling garment.

Looking down at the brilliant gold cloth, the likes of which he’d never seen before, the king purred, “Oh yes, this will do very, very well.”

For the first time in her life, Liz’s mother had nothing to say, which was good, for she was summarily shunted outside the room and left alone as the door closed.

Liz was done having her mother speak for her and she began negotiating a deal with the king. An hour later, discussions over, she had a new warehouse in the free trade zone with a ten year break on property taxes. From this location, she’d run her new fashion clothing business which would supply the king with the latest designs to keep him the best dressed man in the kingdom. Also, Liz had suggested the king needed to work on his public image and the vain monarch agreed to take on Liz’s mother as his new director of public relations.

The king, enamored with this deal, left to show off his new garb to the court’s elite, a guard dragging Lizzie’s protesting mother behind him.

Shazam!

“Well, what do you think?” asked Liz of the strange little man with the magic touch who once again appeared in a puff of smoke.

“Perfect!” exclaimed the dwarf, producing two bottles of ice cold pale ale, popping the tops, and handing one to Liz.

“By the way,” she asked, “you never did mention your name.”

“Oh, that,” her savior said, “it’s Rumpelstiltskin

“That’s a mouthful.”

“You can call me Al.”

And with a clink of their bottles, the unlikely duo birthed “Rumpelstiltskins,”  the specialty clothing company which now has outlets in Beverly Hills, Paris, and Dubai.

Moral: You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but you can turn straw to gold with a little magic and some razzle dazzle.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blind Side Parables – 9; Taxi School

 

The Blind Side Parables – 9

Peter Pan was bored.

Not much was happening in Never Land. The Indians and Lost Boys Coalition had defeated the ultra nationalist Never Never party in the last election, and political stability seemed assured for at least four more years. The pirates were in disarray after their leader, Captain Hook, had lost another limb to Tic Tock, the man-eating crocodile. On a whim, Peter decided to fly back to London, hoping to reunite with the Darling family kids, with whom he’d shared many past adventures.

Arriving in night’s darkness, Peter landed on the sill of the open playroom window. With his longtime fairy friend, Tinker Bell, hovering on his shoulder, the two travelers peeked inside.

Peter smiled and whispered, “look Tink, they’re all here.”

One boy sat at a desk, eyes glued to a bright screen. A smaller boy sat on the floor, playing with a toy. An older girl, legs tucked underneath her, lounged on a couch with another bright screen on her lap.

“Yeah! Gottcha!” yelled the first boy, shooting his arms skyward.

Peter interrupted this celebration by flying into the room and announcing himself, “Hello.”

All three children turned to face the visitor.

“Who are you?” the kids asked in unison.

“I’m Peter, Peter pan, the boy from Never Land, don’t you remember me?

The children looked at each other, then the girl spoke, “it’s that flying boy from some far off place that Grandma used to tell us about.”

“Grandma?” asked Peter.

The girl replied, “Grandma Wendy.”

Peter’s face brightened, “Wendy, where is she ?”

“She’s long gone,” answered the little boy, still struggling to make the toy in his lap work.

“Gone?” replied the suddenly sad Peter, “then who are you?

“I’m Wendy Ann,” said the girl.

“And I’m John Junior, JJ”, said the older boy, “and he’s Mikey,” pointing to the boy on the floor.

“Oh,” said Peter, reassessing the situation, then, deciding all was not lost, put an offer on the table, “hey, would you like to fly with me, I can take you to a really neat place?”

JJ looked back at the computer screen in front of him, “does this place have Galactic Invaders?”

Puzzled, Peter answered, “Well, no, but it’s got pirates and Indians and lots of really cool kids.”

“I don’t think so,” replied JJ, starting to punch the computer keys, “I just shot down the Death Star and now I’m up to level three, I need to keep going to get to Star Flight Commander.”

Wendy Ann looked at Peter, “Does Amazon deliver to this place you want to take us? I’ve got a trippy outfit I want and with expedited delivery, it can be here tomorrow.”

Even more puzzled, Peter replied, “Amazon? Well we do have jungles and tropical birds.”

“No thanks,” said Wendy, scrolling through more fashion options on her laptop, “I need to keep up my social standing at school.”

Tinker Bell was about to whisper something in Peter’s ear when Mikey, screamed, “I’ve got it!” and his toy came to life.

With a whir, a toy flying machine took off and buzzed around the room.

“Yippee!” shouted Mikey as he directed the little helicopter up, down, and all around with its remote control. Then, Mikey noticed Tinker Bell, “what’s that, he asked, pointing at the pixie?”

Peter answered, “that’s my friend Tinker bell. She’s a fairy.”

Mikey’s face lit up, “does she want to play?”

Not waiting for an answer, the toy helicopter began chasing Tinker Bell around the room. Tink, having never encountered such a device, freaked out, darting and dodging to avoid a collision with the whirring menace.

Mikey’s face contorted into a sadistic smile. “I’m going to flatten you, fairy girl!”

But, Tink, having recovered her composure, realized that the mechanized attacker was no different than the many other predators who’d tried to get her. She froze in front of Wendy Ann’s dressing mirror. Mikey, seeing his chance, gave full throttle to the helicopter to annihilate the fairy.  The toy was going full tilt when Tinker Bell slipped sideways and the helicopter crashed headlong into its reflection in the mirror, falling to the floor in many more pieces than all the King’s men would ever put together again.

Mikey howled, “You broke it!”

JJ never looked up, simply uttering “Damn!” as a black moth enemy fighter blew him out of the sky.

Oblivious to the twin tragedies around her, Wendy Ann declared, “Oh, look at that, those shoes would be so perfect with my new dress, and they come in pink, too.”

Tinker Bell whispered something in Peter’s ear.

The boy who would never grow up replied, “Yes, Tink, you can pinch me the next time I’m bored.”

Their departure went unnoticed.

Moral: Boring is a world without fantasies and fairies.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blind Side Parables – 8; Taxi School

Where the Sidewalk Ends

A poem by Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

by Shel Silverstein, 1974

When I start slipping into seriousness, I turn to Shel Silverstein to lighten up. Reading his poems with kids is better than blowing bubbles on San francisco’s BART train.

Want more fun? Watch this link on YouTube-

tio stib

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The Blind Side Parables – 8

“Toto, where are you?”

The little dog didn’t move.

“Toto, come here right now!”

Toto peeked out from behind a tree. There was Dorothy, standing with Glinda, the Good Witch, surrounded by the cheering little munchkins of Oz. All Dorothy had to do was rub her red shoes together and she’d be magically whisked back to Kansas.

No way, thought Toto, Oz was the best gig he’d ever come across. No way was he going back to that farm where the chickens all chased and pecked him. No way was he going back to that barnyard where every step risked an encounter with foul smelling poop.

Toto had paid his dues, spent weeks on the road protecting Dorothy and those three dimwits, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and lion, from evil witches, flying demons, and the pitfalls of third rate motels. And what did he get for all this hard work and for pulling back the curtain that revealed that the Wizard of Oz was just a crazy old coot?

Not even one “attaboy!”

But none of that mattered anymore, for when Toto had pulled back that curtain, revealing the bumbling wizard, he’d  also discovered Mimi, the wizard’s adorable, if statuesque, French poodle. Sure, Mimi was a bit young, but she found Toto’s worldly adventures fascinating. And, when she’d invited him to dinner at the palace, they’d been served steaks on real silver plates.

No way was he going back to a handful of dry kibbles tossed into a plastic bowl.

Toto swaggered off to meet Mimi. Sure, he was just a mutt, but he knew how to keep the ladies happy. He packed a punch for a little pooch.

“Toto, come here right now or I’m leaving without you!”

Toto smiled, you can call until the cows come home, farm girl, but I’m not going back to sun broiled summers and frozen whisker winters.

No, Dorothy, I’m not in Kansas anymore. Thank God.

Moral: Just because you can go home doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

tio stib

You might also enjoy “The Blindside Parables – 7“; “Taxi School

The Blind Side Parables – 7

After weeks of fighting off flying demons, fire breathing dragons, and a very itchy case of poison ivy, the handsome prince stood before the lovely Sleeping Beauty. He admired her comely figure, her long golden hair, and her delicate ears. He had a thing about ears.

Bending down, he stretched to plant a kiss on her enticing lips, the kiss that, by all accounts, would bring Sleeping Beauty back to life.

A small bell sounded from his back pocket.

Feeling that the prince was no longer hovering over her, Sleeping Beauty slowly opened one eye. She’d been awake for months, ever since that nasty little frog stuck his slimy tongue down her throat and she’d jolted awake to find the green creature planted on her bosom, staring at her, saying-

“I’m a prince! I’m a prince!”

The rudely awakened princess heard nothing, but instead hurled the frog towards Hannibal, the castle’s maleficent cat. Hannibal liked to bat little creatures around and toss them into the air before biting their heads off.

She could still hear the frog’s last words, “really, I’m a  …”

Since then, Sleeping Beauty had practiced her sham sleep routine in preparation for a real prince showing up. Noiselessly, she gazed at her would be savior who was intently eyeing the screen of his cell phone. Suddenly, he grinned, turned to her , an exclaimed-

“Can you believe it? My team has just won the Fantasy Football playoffs and we’re in the Super Bowl!”

He stopped abruptly as he realized that the previously sleeping beauty wasn’t sleeping anymore.

“You moron!” she screamed, “you chose Fantasy Football over me?”

The prince’s jaw dropped. His phone buzzed again. He slowly turned his head and tried to sneak a peek at the screen.

Needless to say, the conversation deteriorated from here as the princess wondered if she’d been a bit rash with the little frog.

Moral: Texting vs. kissing? No contest.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blind Side Parables – 6; Taxi School

The Blind Side Parables – 6

Jack was ready to give up, it felt like he’d been climbing through the cloud forever. He cursed his impetuous nature for once again leading him astray. what kind of nuts was it to climb a beanstalk hundreds of feet up into the sky until it disappeared into the clouds?

Crazy nuts, he muttered to himself, even as he climbed higher.

Then, he was out, blinded by bright sunlight. He squinted, rubbed his eyes, tried to see what new world he’d entered.

“Fee Fi Fo Fum, you’d better run or I’ll bite your bum!” roared a deep voice nearby.

But before Jack could scamper off, he was plucked up by the back of his collar and held high in the air. He tried to turn to see his captor, but to no avail. Then, he became aware of the pungent odor. Whoever, whatever had him, it stunk.

“Ah, little man, you wrinkle your nose at me. Yes, it’s true I’ve had no bath for weeks, not since they shut my water off. Nothing but hard times here.”

Jack was spun about, suddenly face to face with the biggest man he’d ever seen, a man fully ten feet tall, unshaven with scruffy hair, and wearing a mismatched assortment of ragged clothes.

The giant smiled, revealing a mouthful of occasional yellowed, teeth, “never seen a giant before?

Jack was speechless as the giant twirled his limp body in a complete circle.

“What’s your name?” asked the giant.

“J-j -ack,” came the sputtered reply.

“Not another Jack,” exclaimed the giant, “you’re the third one this week. Is everyone down there named Jack?”

No response.

“My name is Rump, but you can call me Big Rump,” continued the giant, “eyeing Jack more closely now.”

“You’re quite fat Jack, a tasty treat, except, as you’ve noticed, my teeth are no longer able to enjoy chewing on a yummy kid.”

Jack sighed with relief.

“I suppose you climbed up here dreaming of riches and easy money, just like all the other Jacks. Well, too late buddy, look around, all the Jacks who preceded you have trashed the place.”

Jack cautiously turned to survey the surrounding landscape.

“See that smoke over there and the blackened debris, that’s what’s left of my castle. The last Jack was so miffed when he found I no longer had the golden goose, he tossed his cigarette butt into the yard, started a wildfire and burned the place down.”

Jack started to fidget.

“Hey, settle down, I’m talking to you. It’s lonely up here and I get tired of talking to myself.”

Jack froze.

“Had to give up the golden goose to pay property taxes. Do you know how much it costs to run a castle these days?”

Jack shook his head.

“Taxes, heating bills, maintenance, rodent control, it all adds up. and the real bummer, I lost my insurance a month ago and I’m not getting a dime for what that other jerk Jack did.”

Big Rump continued, “everyone thinks us big guys have it made, but let me tell you, just because my dad was a giant and left me all his wealth, doesn’t mean I’ve had it easy. Look at these clothes. Do you know how hard it is to find anything decent and fashionable in my size?”

Again, Jack shook his head.

“Just about impossible, and even when I find something I like on amazon, no one wants to deliver up here.”

“Must be tough,” Jack muttered.

“Tough!?” You have no idea,” exploded the giant. Then, he paused and looked at his captive.

“You’re not like the other Jacks, you actually listen to me.”

Jack just smiled, not wanting to add that he seemed to have no other choice given the circumstances.

“Maybe you can come back again, shoot the bull, share a beer.”

“Sure,” Jack answered.

“Yeah, I’d like that, come back and visit, I’ll clean things up, we’ll have a picnic.”

Big Rump set Jack beside the beanstalk, “careful on your way down, that stalk can get slippery.”

Jack hurried to grab the beanstalk and began to ease himself down. He took a last look at the lonely giant, who gave him a mostly toothless smile and a little wave.

“Bye,” they each said simultaneously.

Moral: Even giants need friends.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blindside Parables – 5; A Friend Passes

The Blind Side Parables – 5

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”

No response.

Then the mirror was shaken and an irate voice yelled, “get with it mirror, this is your commander -in-chief speaking!”

Jolted awake, the mirror thought, jeez, he’s back again, this schmuck just can’t get enough of himself. And not only does he stare into the mirror at all times of the day, he never turns off the damn big screen TV, hoping to see himself on his favorite news channel. The mirror couldn’t remember the last time it had enjoyed a good night’s sleep.

The mirror thought back to the day it had taken this job. True, times were tough, with all the pandemic job layoffs, no one seemed inclined to do much introspection, and magic mirrors were even less popular now that everyone was staring into their smart phones hoping some banal text would suddenly turn their lives around. So, when his agent had called to say there was a gig open at the White House, the mirror had jumped at it.

It had already been installed in the president’s bedroom when the story of the previous mirror’s demise was revealed. Seems that mirror had made the mistake of not properly praising the  man’s hair and it had been shattered by the furious toss of a hairbrush.

“Hey, mirror, I asked you a question. Now, get with it or I’m going to send out a tweet that you and your kind are part of a radical left wing conspiracy trying to destroy America’s in-egalitarian system of shareholder  capitalism.”

Recognizing that a temper tantrum was imminent, the mirror hastened to reply, “You are, Donny dear, the fairest, the best, the most beautiful.”

“More beautiful than Vladimir?”

“Of course,” answered the mirror, piling it on, this guy could never get enough of himself, “Vlad’s a midget, wears lifts in his shoes, not even close to your impressive stature.”

Donny smiled as he looked at himself, liking what he was hearing.

“More beautiful than Xi Jinpang?”

“Of course, Donny, that guy’s nearly bald.”

Confidence restored, Donny turned and walked away, off to sign another proclamation, another demonstration of his all consuming largesse. On today’s schedule was the annexation of Canada.

The mirror let out a sigh of relief. How, with all the possibilities for magic mirror assignments, had it managed to get Donny. The mirror wondered if bad karma had something to do with it.

Then he was back, agitated, “I just heard that I’m behind in the polls, tell me this isn’t so.”

The mirror, long ago resigned to the truth that job security was more important than strict adherence to the facts, again decided to humor Donny with an alternate picture of reality.

“Not possible,” assured the mirror calmly, “my latest poll shows you leading with an almost 98 percent approval rating.”

“That’s more like it,” breathed Donny with relief, and he turned to get back to granting tax relief to everyone who was worth more than a billion dollars and who regularly played on one of his golf courses.

The mirror sighed, sure its poll was limited to members of the president’s immediate family who had not written tell all books about him but, hey, a poll’s a poll.

Moral: What you see may not be what you get.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blindside Parables – 4; Almost Heaven

The Blind Side Parables – 4

Aladdin had been furiously rubbing the lamp all the way home from the bazaar. The old man had assured the boy that the lamp was, indeed, magical. Just rub it and a genie would appear and grant him three wishes.

Not born yesterday, the boy had asked the trader why, if the lamp was so marvelous, the price was so cheap.

The white bearded man smiled and said, “this lamp is quite old and sometimes it takes a bit to get it started. Besides, I like you and so, a special deal.”

Aladdin could hear his mother’s admonishments when he got home, reminding him of the goose that didn’t lay golden eggs, and the carpet that didn’t fly.

He paid a handful of shekels and took his prize.

Now, locked in the bathroom to avoid his mother’s questions, sweat dripping from his brow from endless rubbing, he stared at the naive face in the mirror and thought-

Sucker.

He looked again in the mirror. There was something written on the bottom of the lamp. He’d seen the strange symbols before, but they’d made no sense. But in the reverse reflected image in the mirror, he could read a message-

“Rub me and your wish will be my command.”

Aladdin smirked, he’d been rubbing the damn lamp for an hour and nothing had happened.

Then, he saw some fine print below, “Note-this is a left handed lamp and it likes to be rubbed counterclockwise.”

“Oh,” exclaimed the boy, who was right handed, and he quickly resumed caressing the lamp with his left hand in a counter clockwise direction.

Another hour later, sweat pouring down his face, the frustrated boy  screamed, “that’s it lamp! I give up!”

Angry, he slapped the lamp hard.

“Ouch!”

Aladdin looked at the lamp. He’d heard a voice.

“Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Did you really have to hit me that hard!”

Stunned, the boy watched as a wisp of smoke rose from the lamp’s  spout, then grew into a foul smelling cloud that slowly evolved into the form of a grimacing genie rubbing her head. Aladdin couldn’t help but think, the creature floating in the air above him looked a lot like Whoopi Goldberg.

“Geez kid, you really know how to ruin a good dream. I was just getting it on with that sexy prince from Madagascar when, ‘Whap!” you slapped me on the side of the head and woke me up.”

Sniffing the air around her the genie added, “Ugh! A hundred years without a bath can lead to a big stink.”

Aladdin stared wide eyed, the lamp really was magic.

Reading his mind, the genie said, “that’s right, it really is a magic lamp. Sadly, it’s an old model, doesn’t even have a solid state hard drive, so it’s slow compared to the new 5G models. But, hey, I’m here and I still do the wish thing.”

“Wish thing?” queried the boy.

“I’ll grant you three wishes, anything you want. Well, almost anything,” said the genie, now peering closely at Aladdin, “are you eighteen years or older?”

Aladdin blushed, “not exactly.”

“Look, kid, you are or you aren’t. Which is it?”

The boy shook his head.

“Well, there are things I just can’t do for minors. Didn’t you read the fine print on the lamp?”

The boy’s blank face gave the answer.

“Can’t really blame you, it takes a microscope to make it out. Briefly, the lamp and its magic are not responsible for any damage you may cause. You may not sue us and any tax liabilities created by your wishes are your responsibility and yours alone. There are no refunds or exchanges after your wishes expire. Do you agree to these conditions?”

Aladdin slowly nodded his head.

“Great, now let’s get to it, I’d really like to get back to sleep and find out what’s going to happen with that prince.”

“Well,” the boy said, scratching his chin, “My mom would like a new house.”

Shazaam! Suddenly Aladdin found himself standing in the plush living area of a grand house with a large pool outside surrounded by lush gardens.

“Wow!” exclaimed the boy in amazement.

“You think she’ll like it?” questioned the genie, I modeled it after the latest cover home on architectural Digest. I hope she’s fond of pink.”

Aladdin noticed all the walls were covered in pink velvet. He wondered whose house had been on that magazine cover.

“Okay, let’s keep moving,” urged the genie, “ what’s wish number two?”

The boy looked down at his ragged clothes, “perhaps some new…”

Shazaam! Aladdin found himself standing in a huge bedroom, looking into a walk in closet filled with new clothes of all colors and types, including one wall entirely covered with shoes. He gaped at the impressively clad young man standing before him in the full length mirror. Slowly turning, he touched the sparkling diamond in the center of his silver turban, then ran his finger over the gold embroidery on his tunic. Not bad, he thought, not bad at all.

“You like it! Of course you do, it’s all the latest fashion from Paris, although most of it was made in Bangladesh. Sorry about the slippers, we’ve been having supply chain problems in Magic Land.”

Aladdin looked down at his gleaming golden slippers. They were at least size sixteen. He wore size eight.

“Better too big than too small,” noted the genie, “now, what’s it going to be for wish number three?”

Suddenly sure of himself, Aladdin looked at the genie and said, “true love.”

Shazaam! Aladdin found himself outside, standing next to the pool looking out across its sparkling azure blue water to the spectacular view of distant mountains.

But, thought Aladdin, true love, where was she?

“Turn around, kid, you’re facing the wrong way.”

Aladdin turned and was hit full on by a leaping Labrador retriever. The collision carried man and beast into the pool. Even half immersed, the dog still managed to joyfully lick Aladdin’s face in spite of the turban which mostly covered it.

“No truer love than a dog for its master, kid. Her name is Scheherazade,” added the genie as she slipped back into the lamp, “gotta be going, all the best!”

Moral: You don’t always get what you want, but you always get what you need.

tio stib

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Life Is Like A Broken Egg

Yesterday I dropped an egg. Actually, I didn’t drop it, I surmise it rolled unseen off the counter. I heard a noise near the floor. In a microsecond, my brain flashed through the possible causes of such a noise. At about the same time, my brain reached another conclusion. The toes on my right foot were also sending signals to my sensory center. Something gooey was down there.

A broken egg!

As I groped around cleaning the shattered shell from the floor and then its contents from my foot, I pondered the symbolic relevance of this event in my life.

Yes, I tend to get lost in my own world at times.

Perhaps, I wondered, my life is like a broken egg. Here I am, marching along unseen by most of the world and then, crash! I splat into eternity, possibly making a mess for someone else to clean up as I exit.

That’s one possibility.

My mind drifted off in other directions. I remembered a structures class where we dropped eggs in specially designed containers from a third story balcony. The object, of course, was to preserve the integrity of the egg. The challenge was to do this with as little material as possible. It’s no problem to put an egg in a big box of bubble wrap and drop it unfazed onto the floor below. The trick is to drop the egg, mostly naked, with the same result. Similarly in life, I thought, there’d been times I’d insulated myself with such things as work and selfish interest so that the rest of the world couldn’t touch me, and I couldn’t touch the people who cared about me because I was too closed off from them.

There have been naked opposite times when I was raw and open, times when I felt that life had run me over and left me for roadkill. Going bankrupt and watching friends die come to mind.

My lesson from these experiences: Sometimes it’s good to overprotect. Sometimes it’s good to hurt. The pain reminds me of happier times.

All this you may say, from simply having an egg hit the floor? Yes, and there’s more.

What if I’m like an egg? A hard, durable shell on the outside and a soft sticky mess inside. My outside, that part of me I show the world, is a lot like the shell of an egg. It’s quite resistant to general pressures, quite strong when grasped firmly. But, the shell has its weak points. It doesn’t do well with pressure applied to a single point. Yes, I have my buttons. I hate cleaning up other people’s messes, such as wiping up their broken eggs. I have no tolerance for fools, which is why politics disgusts me. The egg shell is also brittle. It doesn’t do well when landing on sharp objects. I explode when subject to sharp noises, and am even more violent when subject to the sound of barking chihuahuas.

All this from a broken egg.

My last thoughts on this surprisingly deep self-dialog. How do you crack an egg? I use two hands. Even so, I often make a mess of this simple action, sometimes striking a nearby surface so hard that the shell cracks open and leaves a trail of egg goo from there to the frying pan. (This is a clue to what I usually do with eggs, hinting at my limited cooking repertoire). Sometimes, when my mind is somewhere else such as now, I fail to hit the egg hard enough,it doesn’t crack, waking me from my reverie to initiate another strike on the shell. This usually results in the previously mentioned egg goo trail.

What does this say about my life? I tend to be overly cautious and conservative. Do I lack faith in my creative abilities to expand my egg cuisine? Maybe I’m just lazy.

One of my goals for the New Year is to learn how to crack an egg with one hand. I think this may take quite a few eggs. I’ve heard that gin fizzes are a good use for egg whites and an easy way to forget about life’s deeper concerns.

Like how my life is like a broken egg.

tio stib
2014, 2016, 2018, 2020

First published in January, 2014, but since I haven’t mastered the one handed egg crack yet, I decided to publish this again to remind myself of goals I’ve yet to attain.

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