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 “F” Word – Fear

20 Seconds of Insane Courage

 

There she is, sitting alone drinking coffee, the gorgeous girl you’ve been wanting to talk to for months. It’s the perfect opportunity to walk up and say, “Hello!” You gather your courage. You hesitate, thinking, “What if she blow’s me off?” You turn away, then stop. A new resolve fills you with brash excitement.

“Yes, I can!”

You spin around, ready to conquer the world, and stare in surprise to see your dream girl surrounded by 5 other chicks  chattering like a bevy of birds.

And so ends another chapter in the saga of your lonely and unrequited love life.

This story is repeated thousands of times each day for both men and women. Thousands of young hearts first dreaming, then hoping, then finally crashing back to reality in a worry warted face plant. What do all these stories have in common besides desire? That’s right. It’s the “F” word.

Fear.

Each of these love stricken fools held back and hesitated because they were afraid. The obvious question is “Afraid of what?”

Just what are we all so afraid of that we don’t step up and do the very things that we dream will bring us happiness? What can possibly happen that will be so bad, so unnerving, that we will be banished to loveless purgatory forever?

I can only speak for myself, and believe me, I’ve an immensity of experience with “Fear. I remember my first high school date and all the emotional turmoil caused by simply asking a girl to a dance.

I was part of a group of guys who were more the “out” bunch than the “in” crowd. Somehow we decided it would be cool to ask some of the cute girls in school to go to the dance with us. Then, to put some pressure on this impulse, we dared each other to do it. Yes, I had a crush on Susie but I’d never noticed she’d even looked sideways at me. I was deathly afraid she’d say “No!” which would have made me feel lower than dirt with my buddies. Even if I got past this neurosis, there was a bigger challenge lurking in my anxious mind. I’d actually have to talk with a girl, a female who was not my dog. What would I say? On top of that there was a larger problem I hadn’t even begun to think about.

I didn’t know how to dance.

Okay. Let’s add up the strikes. Fear of rejection. Fear of women. Fear of looking like a fool. None of these may seem as life threatening as fear of your mom finding your hidden copy of Playboy, but still, these things are cause for the sudden eruption of pervasive acne on a previously naive and unmarked face.

Let’s analyze the true probable consequences of failure. What could possibly be so bad?

First, what could happen when I walk up to Susie and ask her out?

Nothing, of course. I see Susie in the hall standing by her locker. I smile and walk up to her. I trip over my untied shoelace and fall face first in front of her. As I get up I hear the crotch of my jeans tear. I turn twelve shades of crimson as I pull my knees under me and look up. Susie has been joined by at least two dozen other girls all staring down at me. They are laughing. I slowly stand up, being careful to keep my legs together to avoid exposing the damaged jeans. Obviously, this is the perfect moment to say, “Hi. How’d you like to go to the dance with me?”

No, not much could go wrong there.

Or, let’s assume I managed to escape the slip sliding for love entry, and found myself alone with Susie in front of her locker and all I have to do is introduce myself.

Me, standing silent in front of Susie: A….

Susie, staring at me: Yes?

Me, stuttering: I…I…

Susie, now smiling: Could I help you?

Me, beginning to shake nervously: I….I…

Susie, looking around for help as she’s now thinking I may be a problem.

Me, exploding: I was wondering if you…

Susie, a puzzled look on her face: Yes?

Me: …if you could tell me where the bathroom is?

There, that was easy, wasn’t it.

Of course, there’s always the slim possibility that I got past the first two challenges and somehow managed to convince Susie to attend the dance wit me. Now what?

Me and Susie enter the dance together. I smile smugly at my buddies. Yes, I have scored. Look at the cute chick I’ve brought to the dance. Eat your hearts out suckers!

Ten feet into the dance hall, Susie turns to me and says, “I think I’ll go over and talk with my friends.”

Me, a sigh of relief: Sure.

We retreat to our opposite corners, girls over there, boys over here, and spend the rest of the night eyeing each other, the boys making derisive remarks about the overweight girls and the only two guys in the room who actually dance. Lord only knows what the girls were talking about. And so I manage to complete my first date. What was the big deal? Nothing, except the anxiety acne I developed made me so self conscious that it was three more years before I managed the nerve to ask another girl out.

Looking back, such mental angst seems so ridiculous. What did I really have to lose in walking up and saying “Hello!?”? Most people, even girls even, will simply smile and say “Hello” in return. They won’t give you the evil eye and make you feel like you’ve invaded the private territory of the Witch of the North. If this does happen, you obviously don’t really want to know this person.

In the movie “We Bought A Zoo,” Matt Damon recounts the experience of meeting his wife, a moment when he managed to overcome his own fears and boldly stepped forward for “20 seconds of insane courage.” He walked up to the girl he was smitten with and said, “Hi. I don’t know why you’d ever want to talk with a guy like me.”

She replied, “Why not?”

20 Seconds of insane courage.

Yes you can!

Take heart, you are following in the footsteps of countless other fearful folks who have succeeded in spite of themselves.

 

Yours to count on.

Tio Stib Signature

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