Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Monday, July 5, 2010

Big Problem

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a girl named Brittany who was kind of a control freak. She traveled throughout the land, coercing others to do what she wanted, and fighting those who resisted until they bent to her will. Eventually her little brother, fed up with her rules and restrictions, ran away from home. He found a little place on the other side of the pond where he could live the way he wanted to. He hung out with savages, rarely bathed, and changed his name to Amerigo.

Things were tough for Amerigo in his new home, but for a while he was happy. Nevertheless, he couldn’t escape Brittany’s controlling influence. She visited him regularly to tell him what he should be doing differently, and then force him to hand over a portion of his allowance. He maintained a friendly fa├žade, but inwardly he seethed. Out from under her watchful eye most of the time, he slowly grew bigger and stronger and more confident.

The next time Brittany demanded a larger cut of his allowance, Amerigo argued that he should be allowed to keep all of his money. She tried to appease him with tea.

That was the final straw.

Amerigo rebelled, demanding his independence; Brittany would hear none of it. They battled for what seemed like years, but in the end Brittany succumbed to Amerigo and his savage tactics. Amerigo was finally free. After a period of inner conflict, he began to thrive.

The two siblings mellowed as they got older, and their animosity for each other faded. Sure, Brittany could be a bit stodgy at times, and Amerigo was egotistical and occasionally violent, but they got along. They even grew to enjoy each other’s company.

And then Brittany’s son went and spilled a large bucket of ink in Amerigo’s home.

It was an accident. Byron Pete delivered ink to everyone around the pond in exchange for a small fee, to keep the wells full and the quills running smoothly. He was an enterprising lad, and Brittany was very proud of him. But he’d stumbled at the south entrance to Amerigo’s home, and gotten ink everywhere.

The boy’s initial attempts to clean up the mess were laughable. Sometimes he’d stop by and mop up a small portion of the spill, other times he’d light the thing on fire and just watch it burn. Once he tried covering the bucket, thinking that might help, and couldn’t even get that right. Though he offered up $12 to cover the damages, that was but a drop in the bucket compared to both Byron Pete’s available resources and what the clean-up would actually cost.

As Byron Pete continued to dilly-dally, and the puddle of ink continued to spread, along came Alex, one of the crazy neighborhood kids. Hurtling past the entrance like a hurricane, Alex stomped on the edge of the puddle and spattered ink further into Amerigo’s home.

Now Amerigo started to get really worried. Would Byron Pete ever get around to cleaning up his mess? He sure hoped so, since his neighborhood was filled with out-of-control kids. What if, later in the summer, Hurricane Bonnie or Colin or Danielle didn’t just tramp past the entrance, but churned right through the ink and into his home, spraying the black stuff through room after room? Such an event would be devastating. And, if Byron Pete’s performance so far was any indication, he would do nothing to help.

Byron Pete would lose some customers due to his inaction – either to other ink magnates or to newer, cleaner alternatives such as graphite – but he’d continue to do business even as a black-stained Amerigo screamed threats and obscenities his way.

And Brittany? She’d kept her distance throughout the whole incident, admonishing her son but taking no other action. She was happy to sit and watch the events unfold from her side of the pond, perhaps thinking that finally, after all these years, Amerigo was going to get what he deserved.


  1. Ah, well said. You summed things up quite nicely with your analogy. If only it were just a story....

  2. Wait, so I didn't just make that up? Crap.

    I have a feeling this will be even worse than that incident with the Oobleck all those years ago.