Friday, July 13, 2012

Hair for Breakfast

Once upon a time, there was a girl called Rapunzel. But she did not live in a tower. No, she lived in an agrarian economy and therefore, had to make her living as a farmer.

Now, Rapunzel was not a very good farmer. She was successful in growing her crops, but often they were dry and not at all delicious. Eventually, she decided to stop harvesting them. If she waited long enough, she thought, then maybe eventually her crops would grow to be the largest and so she could finally sell the surplus for lots of money. Others might have harvests of higher quality, but hers would be worth more because of its unimaginable height. So she waited.

Over the years, Rapunzel neglected her crop, only watering it when it was about to die. In fact, she almost would forget about her crop entirely until a passing traveling would remark, “Why, what an abundant harvest you have!” Yes, at first glance it appeared bountiful, but upon further scrutiny by the travelers, they would always discover their crops to still be of higher quality and therefore still superior. So Rapuzel would let it grow some more.

Then one day, a sickly old lady and her two grandchildren passed by. All of them looked very ill, but a smile appeared upon their faces when Rapunzel’s farm came into view. They admired it so, and even after looking more closely, they still thought the crop to be the most beautiful they had ever seen.

Finally, after seeing them gaze at her crop for 30 minutes, Rapunzel came to greet them and asked, “What so pleases you about my crop? Though it may be tall, it is dry and brittle, and no one sees any value in it.”

“Why,” the old lady replied, “it is the most wonderful farm I have seen since we lost our farm last year!”

The old lady went on to tell Rapunzel their story. Last year, a grumpy little asian man named Elmo Yang had invented something called a “nukular bum”, just for the fun of it. Unfortunately, while Mr. Yang was eating his watermelon and spitting the seeds out, one of the seeds hit the bum and it exploded. While Elmo was instantly blown to smithereens, all the surrounding farmland suddenly experienced a widespread epidemic. Both the people and the crops were affected by the side-effect of radio-asian poisoning, and many died. No crops could grow again, and as most everyone was too sick to work, many slowly died out. The children of the town were unaffected, but as their parents could no longer work, they slowly starved to death. The old lady and her grandchildren were out of town that day, and so suffered less of the after effects. After her daughter/their mom died, they finally decided to leave that place and seek their fortunes elsewhere. Now, a few hundred families still remained, with hungry children caring for their dying parents as they faced impending death.

Rapuzel felt so sorry for the sickly old woman and grandkids so she gave them a bushel of her harvest as a gift before they left. Seeing the gratitude in their eyes made her feel like a good person for once in her life.

However, the old lady was so grateful word spread like bunnies on fire. Children came, all looking so sad and tired. If Rapunzel gave some to all of them, she would have none left for herself. But she decided that money wasn’t important anymore. She would have to sacrifice the wheelbarrow she had been saving up for.

So she harvested her entire stock and gave it to all the children to take back to their families. Then they left. They took it all and left. And Rapunzel had nothing left for her years of patience.

A few months later, she received a note that read: “Thank you Rapenzal for the food. It was very dry, but the thought was appreciated. However, if you haven’t noticed, we’re all very sick and we needed medicine. Selling your harvest and using the money to buy us medicine would have been smarter and a lot more helpful. Now we’re all going to die anyway. But thanks for the food.”

A depressed Rapunzel, desperate to feel good about herself, wrote back a letter of apology and signed off her farm to the children of the sender of the letter. With no home and no source of food, she became a homeless beggar, offering people her hair in exchange for cookies. No one wanted to give up their cookies.

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