The Blindside 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

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Flavors of Friends

Some are vanilla,
predictably plain
Dependably true
always the same

Some are exotic
quixotic
sherbets with fireworks lives
occasionally glancing
to check others’ eyes

then the specials
like bubblegum treat
beautifully different
sumptuous sweets

Yes, chocolate, strawberry,
and rocky road too
friends of all flavors
some licked and
some chewed

like ice cream
I taste them
each one of a kind
then off on their way
they melt in my mind

Yet over the years
a few friends remain
these flavors I savor
again
and again

tio stib

2014, 2016, 2018, 2020

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The Blindside 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

You might also enjoy: The Blindside Parables – 3; Life Journey Poems & Prose

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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The Blindside Parables – 3

The prince was straining, he hadn’t realized how difficult it would be to pull himself up the tangled mass of hair to the top of the tower. But, he told himself, he must climb, the beautiful Rapunzel awaited.

Suddenly, a cascade of foul smelling detritus fell upon his head. Stunned, he let go the hair and tumbled to the ground. Dazed, he looked up, only to be hit full in the face with one more horse apple.

Far above, Rapunzel peered down from the window of her tower top prison and sighed.

“My oh my,” she pined, “so difficult to find a good prince these days.”

Of course, none of her savior wannabees had known about the added test they would face when they reached her window. There, gasping for air and sweating with excitement, they were immediately quizzed by Rapunzel, who had her standards, a man of brains, brawn, and a sizable bank account among them. So, she’d run through her checklist, then, bending down as if to bestow a kiss on expectant lips, she’d nimbly push the failed suitors away. the surprised screams never fazed her.

But having her legendary long hair yanked out by hormone crazed men had become tiresome. She’d negotiated with the wicked witch to borrow Jenny, the big farm horse with the magnificent tail. So now, when she heard a pleading voice call out, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your long hair,” it was Jenny’s tail that was tossed out the window.

True, Jenny occasionally dropped a load of excrement on a would be lover. But, Rapunzel thought, if he was a real man, wouldn’t he ascend a mountain of dung to claim his princess?

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

tio stib

 

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The Blindside Parables – 2

Having easily trashed the straw and stick houses of the three pig brothers, he was feeling quite proud of himself. Sure, this last house was a bit more sturdy, but they didn’t call him the Big Bad Wolf for nothing. He only wished his dad could be here to see his son in action. But, alas, Papa Wolf had run up against that damn little kid, Peter and was now confined to a cage in town,  snarling at tourists.

Wolf did some stretches, a few jumping jacks to get his heart pumping, then drew in and exhaled several deep breaths. Ready, he turned to face the little brick house and smiled. This was going to be fun.

He roared, “alright pigs, come out now or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”

The door of the house flew open and out marched Bernie, the smartest and most practical of the pig brothers. His two cowardly siblings could be seen with their noses pressed against the inside of the living room window.

“Where’s your mask!” demanded Bernie, “what kind of example are you setting for the community, huffing and puffing and blowing a contagious virus around in this time of pandemic crisis?”

Speechless, Wolf stared at the pig. Suddenly, he started to sneeze, triggered by Bernie’s particularly obnoxious cologne.

“A-a-choo!”

Bernie jumped back, “jeez, you’re too much!. Here, put this on and start acting like a responsible member of society.”

Handing a mask to Wolf, the pig turned and marched back into the house, slamming the door behind him.

Fidgeting with the mask, Wolf tried to get it on over his large ears and protruding snout. Finally, with the mask barely covering the end of his nose, leaving most of his gleaming white fangs exposed, he gave up. Obviously, the mask was designed for a little pig, not a big bad wolf.

His shoulders slumped. He was a failure, an apex predator without a job, just another gig worker lost among the masses of the structurally unemployed. He should have listened to his wife, who’d been telling him for weeks that bullying was out of fashion.

But he’d done everything right, worked hard, followed in his dad’s footsteps, listened to all the advice, practiced in front of a mirror the growls and looks that made a Big Bad Wolf really scary.

He sighed, yes, he’d done everything he was supposed to do, but he’d always had doubts.

Wolf turned and started the long walk home. Then, he stopped, remembering-

deep in his heart, he’d always wanted to be a ballet dancer.

Moral: Little pigs are nothing to sneeze at.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blindside Parables – 1, Inspiration

 

The Blindside Parables – 1

With a mighty swipe of his sword, Sir Rodney decapitated the dragon. Then, raising high the monster’s head, its astonished eyes fixed open, he exulted-

“Yes! Now the fair Princess mildred is mine!?

At this point, the enraged, fiery tempered mother of the baby dragon, who’d only wanted to play with the silver coated stranger, char boiled the errant knight inside his suit of armor.

Moral: If you’re going to slay your dragons, start with the big one.

tio stib

 

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The Lost American Porch

I once lived in a small town
in a small house with a front porch
a sheltered space protecting the entry door
a spot where I would hang out
sitting on a chair, sometimes the steps
drink a beer or lemonade
and simply enjoy the world passing by

a horn would honk, a friendly wave
kids would call out as they passed on their bicycles
neighbors walking dogs, hurrying home from work
“Hello!” 
“Good evening!”
“Nice to feel summer again.”
“Yes, aren’t the roses beautiful?”
“How’s your garden?”
“Beans and peas are up.”
“Going fishing Saturday?”
“Yup.”

these words and waves were the gold threads 
that wove a sense of connectedness , a feeling of belonging
through my life, a fabric seen and felt but not recognized in the moment

I’ve since moved, to bigger places, more complicated worlds
houses that now greet the street with cavernous carports
yawning doorways for cars beside small openings seldom used by people
and these places lack porches, no commitment to connect to the outside world
no attempt to simply sit and watch, to hear, to feel the pulse of community

I do miss the lost American porch

I miss the Americans who used to wave and talk as they passed by

tio stib
2018, 2020
 

You might also enjoy: Finding Home, Let’s Voyage Into the New American House

Without

there is no happy
without sad
there is no good
without bad

there is no high
without low
there is no stop
without go

there is no wrong
without right
there is no dark
without light

there is no courage
without fear
there is no far
without near

there are no tears
without smiles
there is no distance
without miles

there is no quiet
without din
there is no out
without in

there is no wild
without tame
there is no different
without same

there is no peace
without strife
such are the facts
of daily life

and from these truths
I choose my fate

I will be love
and without hate

tio stib

2015, 2020

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My Dementia Diary 100 – Both Sides Now

It has been raining in our town, a string of wet, dark, gloomy days that make it easy to stay inside, easy to sit sipping tea wondering about life, wondering how I’ve come to be alone, how I’ve loved my wife with all my heart but that was not enough to save her from dementia.

The words of Joni Mitchell come to mind-

Tears and fears and feeling proud,

To say “I love you” right out loud

Dreams and schemes and circus crowds

I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends they’re acting strange

They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed

Well something’s lost, but something’s gained

In living every day.

I’ve looked at life from both sides now

From win and lose and still somehow

It’s life’s illusions I recall

I really don’t know life at all

-lyrics from “Both sides Now” by Joni Mitchell, 1968

No, I really don’t know life at all.

tio stib

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