A Veryvery Serious Parable

So anyway, it all started one night a few years back when everybody went outside and saw there weren’t any stars in the sky. And not because there were clouds in the way, or anything, because it was a clear night with no clouds at all, like anywhere. No, it was just that the stars were all gone.

(Oh, and the moon was gone too.)

All the townspeople went to the mayor’s office.

“Where did the stars go?” asked all the townspeople.

“Ask the wise man,” said the mayor.

So the townspeople went to the wise man’s house.

“Where did the stars go?” asked all the townspeople.

“Ask the tax collector,” said the wise man.

So the townspeople went to the tax collector’s five-story mansion.

“Where did the stars go?” asked the townspeople.

“Ask the mayor,” said the tax collector.

And this put the townspeople in a hell of a pickle, you see, because they’d already asked the mayor. But they tried the mayor’s office again, just in case. So the mayor sent them to the wise man, and the wise man sent them to the tax collector, and the tax collector told them to go to the mayor once more.

“But we already went to the mayor!” said some guy.

“Well, I don’t know what to tell you,” said the tax collector.

“Don’t you see it’s almost dawn?” said a lady with a big hat.

“It’s so dark out here I can’t see a thing!” said a man with two eyepatches.

“Doesn’t that kind of contradict — ” began the tax collector.

“The solution to our existential dilemma does not appear to lie within the generally-sanctioned domain of discourse,” said a little girl with black hair.

(But don’t you worry, cuz her mom promptly shoved a lollipop in her mouth to keep her from spouting crazy ideas.)

And anyway, the townspeople were about to scatter and give up their search, when a crazy old hermit walked into town ‘round about sunrise.

“I know where the stars went!” he said.

“Where did the stars go?” the townspeople asked.

“You made them go away because you’re so lame!” he shouted. “Verily, this is a generation of nerds and weebs and eaters of yesterday’s donuts. It’s frickin obvious your nerdishness made the stars go away.”

“That’s dumb,” said some guy.

“I’m not a nerd,” said the lady with the big hat.

“What’s a weeb?” asked the man with two eyepatches.

(And the girl with black hair didn’t say anything, because she had a lollipop, but she still listened intently and noticed everything with her big dark eyes.)

But the crazy dude went on, “I tell you, your nerdishness stinks to the top of the sky. Lame, you are — and even in the coolest among you there is still much lameness and weebishness and stale-pastry-munchingness. You must overcome your lameness and be Cool Guys.”

“Isn’t using the term ‘guys’ kind of exclusionary of women?” said some nerd girl.

The crazy guy put his hand over his face and said, “Obviously I am using the phrase Cool Guy in a gender-inclusive way. Anyway, this I teach unto you all: be not lame. Be cool. Be cool and the Cool Guy shall walk the earth. And I dunno, maybe you can make a big ladder and get some paint to put new stars in the sky, or something.”

(The black-haired girl’s eyes lit up at this.)

And the crazy guy walked out of town, cackling and throwing rubber chickens at people as he went.

“He’s crazy,” said some guy.

“I don’t trust him,” said the lady with the big hat.

“I like being lame!” said the man with two eyepatches.

So the people of our town went on being lame. And they complained to the mayor that it was stupid dark at night now that the stars were all bye-bye.

“I keep running into walls whenever I try to go to the tavern at night,” said some guy.

“I fell over and crumpled up my nice hat,” said the lady with the big hat.

“I still can’t see anything!” said the man with two eyepatches.

(And the girl with black hair didn’t say anything because she was wandering around gathering sticks because she was super weird.)

So the mayor got the wise man to work on the problem, and the wise man came up with a clever idea for a system of lanterns that would glow with fire in the night and bring light to the people. But then the tax collector got wind of the idea, and he told the mayor it would be great if they could decree that there should be lanterns on every street-corner and a whole institutional apparatus put in place to keep the lanterns lit at night.

“And then we can raise the taxes because we’ll have to pay for all those people to build and light and maintain the lamps,” said the tax collector.

The mayor and the wise man liked this idea a lot. So they did it.

“It’s for your own good,” said the mayor.

And the people of our town went on being lame and let the mayor, the wise man, and the tax collector get away with it. So the whole system was put in place with its institutional apparatus and everything, and taxes were raised, and the mayor, the wise man, and the tax collector grew crazy rich. And everything worked pretty all right for a while.

“I don’t run into walls at night anymore,” said some guy.

“I can’t afford any new hats with these new taxes,” said the lady with a crumpled old hat.

“I had to pawn my eyepatches!” said the man with no eyepatches.

But then one windy night when the girl with the black hair was buying some white paint at the shop, a heavy gust blew over the lantern next to the Acme Gunpowder Factory. And the building caught fire, but nobody noticed the flames growing and growing till… KA-BOOM!

The factory exploded. Pandemonium broke out in the town as the flames rushed from house to house, consuming everything in their frenzy of destruction. People rushed out of doors, trying to find buckets, looting, tripping over rubber chickens, and knocking over lanterns.

The flames spread far and wide in the night. With the exceptions of the mayor’s office, the wise man’s house, and the tax collector’s mansion, not a building in our town went untouched. Many families lost their homes. Many lanterns had to be replaced. Many rubber chickens lost their squeakers.

But while the town was brought to the brink, all was not entirely lost.

The people began to rebuild.

“If something like this happens again, the town might not survive,” said some guy.

“We’re still gonna keep being lame though, right?” asked the lady with a singed and crumpled old hat.

“Oh yeah. Fuck yeah,” said the man with his hands covering his face.

But after the sun went down, no one noticed the girl with black hair sneak outside with her ladder made of sticks and her bucket of white paint. With a smile on her lips and a laugh in her heart, she leaned her ladder against the top of the sky and began to climb.

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