All the other elephants made fun of Stanley, because he kept forgetting stuff. Boy, that sure got him steamed up. It seemed like every 10,000 memories or so, he’d just start losing the older ones. Good luck remembering what he had for breakfast last solstice. The other elephants didn’t seem to have any trouble remembering. So Stanley broke down and paid a bunch of peanuts to the Memorizer (a mystical guru from a small suburb in Cleveland) so that he too could Never Forget Stuff. OK, so that happened, after a lot of mumbo jumbo and hoodoo-type stuff. For a while, it was pretty sweet. But then Stanley realized that there were maybe some things he didn’t really want to remember, like that embarrassing thing he’d said to his cousin Henrietta. Oof. Stanley got so busy rememberin’ that he forgot to do too much other stuff.
Moral: Remembering everything sounds nice, but is it really?
Once there was this landlord of ill-repute who was also a snake, for some damn reason, not metaphorical at all. This landlord, through no virtue of his own–in fact, quite the opposite–had amassed a collection of shitty houses all over town. Wizards didn’t really concern themselves too much with whether their landlord was a snake or not, not so long as they could check out those sweet interconnecting leylines glowing all over the ground. But even wizards have their limits. One time the snake dicked over some wizards (who just wanted to turn some rainbows into skychutes, yo) and so they turned him into a newt.
Moral: Never meddle in the affairs of wizards, etc etc, also newts.
There was a clockmaker’s guild. They were pretty good at making clocks. Then they got hired to make a sundial. Sure, they said, we can do that! It seemed pretty easy, sun, stone, etc. Also, they knew how to make clocks, right? They spent quite a while making sundial prototypes out of stone, cheese, jello, rubber cement, and papier-mâché. Boy, they sure spent a lot of time on that. Suddenly, they realized they were running out of time. So they threw together this thing made out of cardboard and sent it off, failing to take into account the Earth’s tilt and the changing of the seasons. Oops! The king was pretty peeved and had all their heads cut off.
Moral: A little humility never hurt anyone.
Ok, so there was this factory out on the outskirts of town. A whimsy factory, to be specific. All the workers at the whimsy factory clocked in simply whenever. Also, to say they clocked in was kind of a misnomer, because there wasn’t a clock there. This whimsy factory specialized in all things whimsical. For the most part, it went pretty well. As long as they were well-oiled and struck with hammers at odd intervals, the whimsy machines kept chugging along, chunking out raw whimsy that could then be molded or sculpted into whimsical contraptions and hats. The townsfolk were a little skeptical of all that whimsy. There were even some who occasionally protested about “whimsy pollution.” Who knows what all that whimsy will do to our children, they screamed oh so seriously, waving their deliberately stenciled signs (black on white cardstock, Times New Roman). Their children stood behind them silently in black suits and dresses. Other townsfolk just rolled their eyes at them as if to say (and sometimes they actually did) “Who has that much spare time? That they can go out and protest whimsy?” One day, a crazed anti-whimsier injected some pure tragedy into the whimsy machines at the whimsy factory. What a bummer! the workers cried. Our whimsy machines only produce saddables now! The workers were determined, but it took them a while to clean up that mess. Meanwhile, some children played and others stared sadly at their multiplication tables made out of saddable blocks.
Moral: It’s hard to be whimsical when you’re sad.
One time, a child was born. Let’s say it was a girl (it could’ve easily been a boy). She was cherished by her parents. Literally nourished by her mother’s milk. Her parents poured all of their hopes and dreams and love into her. Not all at once, but slowly, moment by moment, day by day, through the slow accretion of time. Sure, those parents messed up, they sometimes got angry or cranky or dismissive of her, but for the most part, what they did was good and true. And even from that first moment, she felt things so deeply, joy and sadness and anger and fear and happiness and laughter and crying and all the rest, there was so much. Eventually, from listening to her parents talk to each other and all the people around, she decoded language (it doesn’t matter which one) and shortly after that she began to speak her own words. She grew hair, fingernails, toenails, and teeth. She also grew up and out and up and out. At some point, she figured out how to stand and walk and run and then EVERYTHING changed. She didn’t have much to worry about, but sometimes her parents were terrified that something would happen, because she was so unconcerned and that’s what parents do. Everyone who was a part of her life loved her and left a little piece of something with her. And sometimes her parents worried about all the money they were spending, but, you know, it was WORTH IT. She soaked it all in. Soon, she went to school, where her teachers did the best they could (and sometimes not their best at all) to teach her some of what they knew. More importantly, all the children around taught each other about how to be friends and enemies and how to be alone and how to be together. Yeah, it was a big old mess of complicated feelings and ideas and some of it was good and some of it was bad. It all happened at the slow pace of time, as one minute clicked into the next. The parents got sort of used to not seeing her all the time, but it was still sometimes painful. All of this takes time to talk about, but it happens for all of the other children too, some of whom get a rough deal in the parent lottery, but that’s part of it too. So, anyway, she was loved, which is the best we can hope for, right? One day, a sick white man with a gun shot her and 20 or so of her classmates, killing not just her, but all of the love, hopes, and dreams that had been poured into her. That was the end. Her utterly unique presence on this earth was completely and utterly done.
Moral: You should know without me telling you.
One time there was this pop-up that kept crying wolf. People were pretty nervous the first couple of times. But after a while, people were all, whatever, and clicked OK or IGNORE or whatever the button said. They couldn’t even be bothered to remember. One time this wolf showed up and the pop-up did its thing. Too bad no one paid any attention. Let’s just say: that wolf was hungry like a… wolf.
Moral: If you’re a little boy named Piotr, don’t do this either.
Once there was a knife salesman who never sold a single knife. He didn’t give up though. He just kept on trying to sell knives. For some reason, even though these were the sharpest knives in existence, sharper than the boiling heart of the sun’s core, he still couldn’t sell them. Not for lack of trying. Talk about the shoe leather, boy howdy! When trying to sell knives, he’d just cut through all kinds of things: spam, sausage, sauerkraut, and jello. He’d even cut through non-foodstuffs like anvils, phone books (remember those?), staircases, and giant sequoia redwoods. This guy was a one-man cutting machine. He even had a contest with a steam-powered cutting machine. That is, until he cut the cutting machine in half. Remember that guy King Solomon? He loaned him his knife once. Got it back unused, though. Sometimes, the knife salesman would sob silently to himself, cutting his tears in half as they fell.
Moral: When all you have is a set of awesome knives, everything looks like something you can cut, I guess.
Once there was a king of all cake. Not just some of the cake, all of the cake. That meant he had to eat a lot of cake. Also, he had to seize all of the secret cake. This was exhausting, let me tell you! Not only that, but the ant and rodent problem was off the hook. Also, there was especial difficulty around the issue of pies. Some of them were pretty close to being cakes. And the ice cream issue, well. It’s tough being the King of All Cake and not provide some ice cream too. Some days, he wished he could be a beer farmer or something like that. One day, someone brought him a beet cake. Yay, he thought, and he awarded the beet cake a medal or something.
Moral: Cake is delicious but monarchy is kind of a drag.
Once there was a flaming skull (flying). All it wanted to do was be helpful. One time this knitting club got all their yarn knotted up. The flaming skull swooped in and untied all those knots all right! The knitting club dug through the ashes. “Thanks, Flaming Skull…” Another time there was this mountain climber in trouble. Again the flaming skull swooped in. “Thaaaaanks Flaaaaaaming Skuuuu.” That climber would never have any other climbing problems again. Nor opportunities for that matter. Another time, there was this forest fire. The flaming skull did its best, but. “Thanks, Flaming Skull,” all the firefighters said, rubbing ashes on their faces sort of accidentally. “What?” the flaming skull said, “I’m just trying to help!”
Moral: If you’re a flying flaming skull, the best thing you can do is stay well out of it, especially if it involves flammable material.
Once there was a window salesman who sold one size of window. When windows first came out, people were amazed. Saying things like “I can see trees from INSIDE my house!” and “I had no idea my kitchen was so dirty!” Windows sales were through the roof, so to speak. But soon people got bored. It seemed like everyone had windows now. Curtain sales were pretty brisk. Anyway, the windows salesman had a great idea while eating breakfast one day. Bigger windows! And he was right. People were tearing out their old windows and putting in bigger ones just as fast as the windows factory could make them. You can see where this is going. Eventually, the windows got so big that people were living in glass houses and LOVING it. The birds not so much.
Moral: You can have too much of a good thing.