What’s it all about?

After watching the final episodes of “Game of Thrones,” I have done some deep thinking about the whole darn thing. Several questions come to mind. Just what the heck was all that precious time devoted to? Would it have been more suited to watching “Seinfeld” episodes for the one-hundred-and-tenth time? Was that eighth season as bad as some fans say? Was it as much a disappointment as, say, the final episode of “How I Met Your Mother”?

Last things first. It was not as disappointing as the “How I Met Your Mother” fiasco. We can all rejoice that Cersei got her just desserts. Poor Jaime, he deserved better. Unfortunately he couldn’t resist drooling every time Cersei walked into the room. But I got to say that she wasn’t that bad with her clothes off. And I’ve seen her with her clothes. In fact, there weren’t any of the main characters I didn’t see naked.

And I came up with a good answer to the question, “What was it all about, Alfie?” It was about furniture. One particular piece of furniture. A chair. The iron throne. Was all the killing and sexing and hanging out with dragons worth it? After all, who would want to sit on the darn thing?

There’s a rumor going around the television channel that gave us “The Sopranos” that everybody who sat on the darn thing was given combat pay. After all, Joffrey could not sit down for a month after a couple of hours sitting his tush on it. Only Cersei could take the difficulty. That’s because everybody in the kingdom called her “Queen Iron Butt”.

As I considered the “Game of Thrones” dilemma of what was it all about, I came to some other conclusions. One of them being that the thing most super villains pine for is jewelry. Just look at the list. Sauron wanted a ring. Sure it wasn’t just any ring. But still it was jewelry. And Thanos, what did he want? Gems. Which is another word for jewelry. What did Lex Luthor want? Kryptonite. Which was just some green jewelry. Maybe he should have gotten in touch with Green Lantern.

Then there are the fairy tales. Just think Cinderella. All she wanted was a new pair of shoes. She ended up with a prince with a foot fetish. And talking about shoes. If Dorothy had surrendered those ruby reds, she would have avoided beaucoup amounts of trouble.

The Big Bad Wolf was a real estate developer trying to evict the Three Little Piggies. And Little Red was out for Granny’s real estate as well. But Big Bad got there first.

And what can you expect when you ask a Mirror who’s the fairest in the land? Fake news. The fairest may not have been the Queen. But neither was Snow White. That honor went to Sleeping Beauty. After all, she had Hollywood’s Best doing makeup when she won Miss Fairy Tale 2018.

As you can see, our heroes, our villains and our fairy tale folk are all after the same thing we ordinary mortals want. Furniture, clothes, real estate and beauty pageants. Why else do we play the lottery?

 

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Spoiled Rotten

Madeleine Snipe was one spoiled rotten little girl. I’m here to tell you she was spoiled rotten to the core. So spoiled she’d get down right persnickety if’n a body called her Maddy. It was Miss Madeleine to regular folks, and Madeleine to her nearest and dearest, thank you very much. And what Miss Madeleine wanted Miss Madeleine got.  ‘Cause her daddy was the richest man in five counties. Come to think of it, he was the richest man in the whole darn state.

When Miss Madeleine was nigh on three years old, she decided she had to have a tricycle. And not just any tricycle. It had to be a hot red tricycle with a motor on it. She didn’t see the need in peddling. That was a complete waste of her time. Peddling was for them who needed their exercise. Being she had the waist of a goddess, why would she be in the need of exercise?

When she started school she demanded a servant to follow her around, carrying her books and such and responding to her every need. Not just any servant either. He had to be a tall, dark and handsome fellow. And he wasn’t about to wear any old thing. He had to wear a tuxedo. This, she believed, would make others mind her status as someone who was to be looked up to. Then, from her pedestal, she could give out her blessings upon the truly deserving.

And talk about snooty. She was not about to attend the Debutante Cotillion until she was crowned its Queen. She drove up to that Cotillion in her bright red Ferrari. When she stepped out of that Ferrari, she walked onto the red carpet being rolled out just for her in her Pierre Cardin gown. As she walked up the steps to the ballroom, the carpet was rolled up behind her. It was her red carpet, and she darn well was not going to share it with anybody. 

When it came to marrying, she would only marry a blue blood. To be her dearly beloved she hitched up with Beau Beau Beauregard, of the Louisiana Beauregards, not the Mississippi Beauregards. It didn’t matter that he had fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. The Louisiana Beauregards were descended from royalty. If Miss Madeleine cared about anything, she cared that one and all recognized her for the blue blood flowing through her veins.

Her Daddy, being happy when his precious Princess smiled upon him with those teeth of hers that were the best that money could buy, gave her a mansion on a hill for a wedding present. And it wasn’t just any mansion. At first, she insisted on the Taj Mahal. But she changed her mind when she found out the Taj Mahal was a mausoleum. For you folks that don’t know what a mausoleum is, it’s where you put dead people after they’ve died. So she had to settle for the Versailles Palace. Anything for his one and only darling daughter.

Beau Beau and Miss Madeleine returned from their around-the world-cruise-on-the-Queen-Mary-2 honeymoon. They settled into their new residence as easy as slidin’ off a greasy log back’ards. The following Saturday afternoon the creme de la creme of American society came to tête-à-tête with our Miss Madeleine and her Prince Charming. It was a chance for the high societies to get by and say their howdies. Or else.

Of all the times God would have to be off duty, it just had to be that Saturday afternoon. Seems he was on the greens finishing up a game of nine hole with Arnold Palmer and the Archangel Gabriel. That had to be the only way a tornado could slip through and head straight for Miss Madeleine’s gathering at the Versailles Palace.

That tornado went through the Palace like a lawn mower. It hit half the houses in the state and then it gave the Palace a haircut, leaving nothing behind. Fortunately Miss Madeleine and her guests ducked for cover.

Unfortunately Prince Charming didn’t have the sense God gave a billy goat. He dashed over to save the Venus de Milo sitting out on a stand for show and gave it a grab. Just as he turned to join his beloved, that tornado picked Charming up into its arms and threw him right into the state capitol building butt last.

Well, you’d think Miss Madeleine would have gone into mourning from her tippy-tippy toes to her fake blonde hair and crying all over everybody. But she didn’t. She had always wanted an occasion to wear black, and now she had one.

Once they had settled Charming his last resting place, it was time to get down to brass tacks. Miss Madeleine did what she always did. She made her demands known. And her demands were that FEMA and the Federal Disaster folks replace her beloved Versailles, and not just as good as new. Better.

“No, no, no,” Mr. FEMA said.

“No, no, no,” Mrs. Federal Disaster Aid said.

“Oh, yes, yes, yes,” Miss Madeleine said.

“We have to take care of all those other folks who lost their homes,” the head of Homeland Security said.

“Now, y’all just don’t get it,” Miss Madeleine let them know.

And they didn’t. But the folks in that part of the state did. They knew they would never hear the end of it if Miss Madeleine Snipe-Charming didn’t get her way. She’d throw a hissy fit that would make the Civil War look like a hootinanny. They started a petition. And that petition went all the way up to the Oval Office in the White House.

The President took one little gander at the petition and said, “Doggone if’n we’re gonna.”

His Chief of Staff disagreed. He too knew that Miss Madeleine would come calling on him and bawl her eyes out, then blame him ’cause she was near blind. “Mr. President, please. ‘Cause you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew.”

The President looked over and saw the desperation in his Chief’s eyes. “Well, what about all those other folks?”

“I know,” Chief said, “and they know.”

So it was lickety split, and Miss Madeleine had her new Palace. Everybody else in that part of the country ended up living in tents.

Three months later one Wednesday night, a tornado, and I mean this one was a tsunami of a tornado, went blasting across the landscape. It picked up the new Palace and slammed it down hard enough to make folks believe it was an earthquake. Then it took off for only God knows where.

When the dust had cleared, folks gathered round and saw that a house had landed on the Palace, and on top of Miss Madeleine. All that was showing were her shoes. Out of the house stepped a young girl. She looked around at all the stunned folks, then she said to the puppy dog tucked in her arms, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

Sir Herbert of the White

Maeve was the faerie queen. For as long as the wood had been, she ruled the faeries. There had been others who wanted to take her scepter but Maeve always came out on top.

One of the laws of the wood was that no adult human saw Maeve. If they did, they were to die. So when Sir Herbert of the White came through the forest, he caught a glance at the queen. He was a kind knight who slayed dragons and saved maidens in distress and did all sorts of just and good things. Still it was the law the Sir Herbert must die.

But how? That was his choice. The faeries went to Sir Knight in a dream and let him choose. Being pure in heart, he chose to die doing a good deed.

When the folk throughout the kingdom heard the good Sir Knight was to die, they were struck with grief. Even the king was struck with grief, and grieving was not something he did often. But tears rolled down his face as he asked, “How can we save our good friend?”

Sir Herbert of the White answered the tears, “I am a mortal man. All mortals must die. When I pass, remember me and urge others to slay dragons and save maidens in distress and do all sorts of just and good things.”

Late one night Queen Maeve sat up, looking at the stars and thinking how so many faeries had given their lives to be one of those stars. It made her happy that they were remembered as such but sad that they were no longer with her.

Then she thought of the dilemma of Sir Herbert of the White. She was impressed that his was a pure soul and the world had few pure souls. She was saddened that such a soul had to die. The law was the law but mercy was mercy as well. Was there a way to circumvent the law, allowing Sir Herbert of the White to live?

She studied and her astrologers studied they came to the same answer. Sir Herbert of the White had to die.

After a bit, she went to the Lake of the Lakes, dropped the tip of her wand into its waters and stirred. The Lake spoke to her, “There is a way if you have the courage to follow it.”

“I have the courage,” Queen Maeve answered.

“You must die,” The Lake spoke again.

Queen Maeve wished with all her heart she might save Sir Herbert of the White. But not enough to give her life. Sir Herbert of the White must die.

Finally Queen Maeve’s curiosity overcame her. Before he died, she must see this brave knight so many were mourning for.

Three nights before Sir Herbert of the White was to die, the Queen of the Faeries slipped away from her court. Alone she went through the forest. She met the Big Bad Wolf and huffed and puffed him out of her path. She met the Three Bears. She wanded them out of her way. They were too big and too small and not just right. She passed Humpty Dumpty just as he fell off his wall. She even passed the chicken crossing the road.

In the distance she saw Sir Herbert’s campfire. His horse was peacefully grazing on the green grass. Sir Herbert was fast asleep. She sneaked up on him as soft as soft could be. And she glanced at the knight.

Her heart was smitten. In other words, she swooned and fainted. Cupid’s arrow hit her so hard she was out like a light. Some hours later Queen Maeve woke up and realized what had happened. There was no way she was about to let her true love die. If it was her life that was required, it was her life that was to be given.

Fortunately, there was a great and powerful wizard passing through the forest on that very night. On his way to a destination that was most secret, he decided to take a detour. He had never seen the forest and it was a must-see in Rick Steves’ Tour of the Kingdom. So he decided he could afford a little off-the-beaten-path time.

He crossed into the forest and a squirrel approached him. ‘O Great and Powerful Wizard, you must save our friend, Sir Herbert of the White.”

As Mr. Wizard investigated the situation, he realized there was a solution no one had thought. Sir Herbert of the White must be transformed into a faerie.

And so it was written. And so it was. And to this day, Sir Herbert of the White rules beside Queen Maeve as King of the Faeries. And there is much rejoicing throughout the Wood.

Near 500 words: Happiness, and then some

Clara had such a smile it could wake up the world with its beauty. Especially when she told him, “I love you, Dan.”

Dan had dated a lot of girls. Clara was the first he thought he might want to spend the rest of his life with. Clara and Dan started dating on a blind date. Dan had told his friend, Jill, “Blind dates are the worst.”

Jill insisted.

To show Jill how wrong she was, he gave in. He saw Clara, then his heart went wow. Jill had been right.

Jill had dated a lot of guys. Most of them were duds. She too resisted Jill’s offer of a blind date. Then she saw Dan. The smile appeared on her face.

Dan wasn’t the handsome sort. Kinda skinny with a small nose and the curly hair. He wasn’t what Clara would have thought as Mr. Wonderful.

Clara’s face wasn’t that of a raving beauty. It was kind of plain. But then there were those dimples that came with the smile. And, oh, she warmed Dan’s heart.

That first night they gave each other their life stories and threw in some ancestral heritage to stir the pot. First they did dinner, then walked and walked and walked the city streets, then it started to rain. There under a bridge, Dan kissed Clara and Clara kissed Dan.

Clara was the first to speak. “I never.”

“I never either,” Dan said, just as surprised as Clara. “Could this be?”

“I believe so.”

Of all the nights in his life, this was to be the one Dan remembered the most. The same for Clara.

“What will we tell Jill?” Clara asked, smiling that smile, cradled in Dan’s arms.

Dan’s hand stroked Clara’s hair. “She’ll never let us forget how right she was.”

They laughed. Then they kissed one of those long slow kisses that make time stop. When the kiss was over, Dan asked, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?”

“Spend it with you,” Clara said.

It wasn’t a big wedding. Quite small with a few friends. Jill got to be the Best Man. That was only right.

Dan and Clara went off on their honeymoon. They went to Spain. As they listened to the gypsies play the flamenco, Dan asked his beloved, “Let’s not go back home?”

“Let’s not.”

Dan wrote an article for National Geographic. Clara drew the pictures. They dropped them into the post and off the package went to the magazine’s offices. A week later, as they left their room in the hotel, a hotel employee hurried up to them. “You have a phone call,” he said.

It was the editor of National Geographic with an offer they could not refuse. She wanted to buy their story, and she wanted more. The magazine would pay them to roam the world, tell their stories, and draw them. It was perfect for Clara and Dan.

Their dream life. They hadn’t talked about it but they thought about it.

Dan called his brother. “Sell the house. Sell everything,” he said.

Then they hit the road. To Toledo, then to Barcelona, then on to Nice. It was in Nice that Clara found out she was pregnant.

“We’ll take a break,” Dan said. “We’ll be Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda.”

“Oh, no. Not those two. We’re not going to drown our joy in booze.”

Then all the happiness came tumbling down on them. Clara had a miscarriage. Clara cried for a week, and so did Dan. Suddenly their smiles disappeared. Finally, Dan asked, “What are we going to do?”

“We’re going to go on,” Clara said, not sure what she meant but knowing that was the only answer there was.

Holding hands, they looked out from the balcony at the sea. They both knew that the paradise was over. It was time to pay the piper. They also knew that, no matter what, they would pay the big fellow together. It did not bring back the smiles but, at least, it gave them hope as they watched the sunrise over the sea.

An Un-fairy Tale

It was a party, that wedding reception. Half the kingdom showed up to eat, dance and be merry. The couple was extremely popular and well-loved. That was why it was such a surprise when they started in a marital train wreck It had been such a fairy-tale, their romance.

As disappointed as everybody was, they all knew that happily-ever-afters were not to be. Marriage took a lot of work. Charming and Beauty might have been up to the work. They were not committed to it. Sure they liked the glow of it all. They had both gone to see “Romeo and Juliet” a dozen or more times. They had binged on “Outlander” on tv. And they were smitten by “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

The real test was when he farted at an inappropriate moment and when she belched when they were visiting his parents. Most couples let the body functions pass with, “I’ve heard worse” or “I’ve smelled worse.”

The real trouble nobody spoke about was that Beauty wasn’t Cinderella or Snow White. And Charming wasn’t the Woodsman or the Big Bad Wolf.

The parents of the couple suggested counselling. It had helped them through their troubled times. Beauty. But that didn’t help. It made matters worse. Now they spelled out loud the issues. After the third session, the Royal Marriage Counsellor shook his head and gave up.

“He’s been biting the apple with Snow White and she’s had a real howl-in with Big Bad. Let’s face it. It’s a case of ‘the grass is greener on the other side of the fence’. Nothing can save this marriage.”

Now it just so happened that it was that time of year. Early autumn. As usual Merlin was taking his stroll through the kingdom. After the fiasco with King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot, he didn’t show his face much anymore. He’d failed Camelot, and that was that. Fortunately he had been taking lessors from Gandalf. Since Gandalf had gotten Aragorn and Eowyn together, he was considered Matchmaker to the Stars.

It was hard to miss the news about Charm and Beauty. There were posters on just about every tree in the forest and photograms all over Instagram of the fights. Merlin saw his chance to get back into everybody’s good graces. If he could fix the couple’s marriage and give the kingdom a happily-ever-after, he would be the superstar he’d always seen himself as.

He pulled out his smartphone and started taking pictures of the unhappiness that had hit the kingdom like the ten plagues of Egypt. Humpty Dumpty’s fall was the first. Then there was Little Red Riding Hood’s granny and the Billy Goat Gruff taking out the Troll. There was the two little pigs’s houses the wolf had blown to smithereens. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when Repunzel’s hair all fell out.

Merlin put together his powerpoint presentation of the destruction Charm and Beauty’s marriage was doing to the kingdom. Then he buckled up his bucklet and went up to the Castle. He knocked on the giant wooden door. When the porter asked what he wanted, he answered, “I’m here to see the Prince and  Princess.”

“I’m sorry but no can do. Lady Macbeth went chasing Spot the Dog and fell off the castle wall. And Lord Macbeth’s got Macduff’s sword stuck up his tushy.”

“Not that couple,” Merlin said angrily. “The Prince and the Princess, you goof.”

“Don’t get yourself in a tizzy. I’m sorry your gps isn’t up to snuff. Their castle is the one on the hill. If you had put The Castle on the Hill into it, it would have taken you to their front door step. But be forewarned. That place has gone to quackers.”

Merlin’s eyes followed the porter’s finger as it showed the way. There must have been more steps to the Castle on the Hill than there was to the top of the Great Pyramid. For a second the old wizard choked. This was not going to be easy. Then he buckled himself up for the climb and determined that a wizard’s got to do what a wizard’s got to do. If it was easy, everybody would have the job.

It was a long, arduous climb that took a fortnight. For you readers who don’t know what a fortnight is, it’s two weeks.

He came to the door of the Castle on the Hill. Before knocking, he sat down on the stone walkway and had himself a rest. He dumped the pebbles out of his shoes and saw the holes in their soles. If he pulled off his goal, there would be a reward of new shoes.

Then he stood up straight and rang the giant bell.

“Who’s there?” the guard at his post asked from the other side of the door.

“It’s Merlin, the Magician. Let me in.”

“State your business.”

“Marriage counselling.”

From the other side of the door, there were guffaws galore. Finally, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

Merlin was not used to being challenged when he was determined to do a thing. So he said, “Let me in or I will huff and puff and blow your house down.”

More laughter. Then, “We’ve heard that before. You gotta do better than that.”

Merlin sunk his head into his hands and said mostly to himself, “Oh, what to do. What to do.”

At that, his staff whispered in his ear. He called out the offer the staff offered, “A flagon of ale for every member of the staff.”

From the other side of the door, “What’s a flagon?”

“It’s a lot. Now let me in.”

“Well, if you insist, but we want the good stuff.”

The door creaked open. Merlin strode in, lifted his wand, and said loudly, “Let the booze flow.”

The Castle-on-the-Hill tour guide walked out of his cottage. “May I help you, sir.”

“The couple?” Merlin said huffing and puffing, not from exhaustion, but from frustration. “Where’s Prince and Princess?”

The tour guide pointed at the two lights at opposite ends of the castle. “There.”

At that, Merlin did what any self-respecting wizard would do. He gathered himself up, then he thought, “Geez, more stairs.” That was followed by, “I guess a wizard got to do what a wizard’s got to do.” And up the stairs he went.

First he showed his powerpoint to Beauty, then he went down to the other end of the Castle and showed Charm. They both laughed him out of their rooms.

This was Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot all over again. What to do? What to do?

Merlin, never being a quitter, was not about to take this lying down. There was only one magic spell left in his ye-olde-spellbag. So he pulled it out and said the magic words, “Jimmy Stewart.” Then he grabbed up the royal couple as fast as you can say, “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle” and took them down to the Royal Movie Theater and showed them “It’s a wonderful life”. By the end of the movie, Charm and Beauty were in each other’s arms. bawling their eyes out. Jimmy Stewart had done what Jimmy Stewart always did. He did that old Jimmy Stewart magic.

From that moment on, there was no more complaining about the farting or the belching. Twenty years and three kids later, they found those activities endearing in each other. And there was rejoicing and happily-ever-after-ing throughout the land. On top of that, Merlin’s Matchmaking Business went into franchising. Now the kingdom has one on every corner.

The business has prospered so much so that Merlin is taking it public next week. You can buy shares under the ticker name of MMBz.