Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Once upon a time, a poor bookkeeper named P. X. Warbie had a dream. He loved children, and wanted nothing more than to entertain them. "Why, I'll write a book," he thought to himself. He toiled long and hard on this book, and three years later he had a finished manuscript about a boy named Sammy Spatula who never grows up, wears lots of green, and flies a lot between his home Sometimesland and earth.

P. X. was very proud of his work; now he just had to get it out into the world. He approached his neighbor, Mr. A. McNutley, who happened to be the Editor-in-Chief of the Grimsby Times. "I've got a great idea!" said Mr. McNutley after reading the manuscript. "Why don't we print your book in my newspaper? Say, five hundred words a day? I think it would be a big hit with my readers."

As Mr. McNutley prophesized, the column was a smash. People raced to the news stand every morning to find out what happened to the boy who never grew up. They'd never read anything like it! It was wholesome fun and suitable for the entire family.

By the fifth day, the newspaper's circulation had tripled, but dark clouds had appeared on the horizon. In the latest extract, the three children of Fred and Ethel Sweetie have been put to bed in a middle-class apartment in the Bayswater suburb of London. Just as they start to fall asleep, though, they notice a mysterious light on their balcony. They run to investigate and discover the slightly-undersized, androgynous lad who is Sammy Spatula.

"Hey, kids!" Sammy chirps. "How about flying off with me to Sometimesland?"

"That's silly," says the eldest, a flame-haired cutie named Barbara Ann. "We can't fly! Now go off and bother someone else."

"Sure you can!" protests Sammy. "Anybody can! You just need to try. Ready? Just close your eyes and leap!" The three children are hesitant but finally take the stranger's word for it. They fling themselves off the windowsill and find themselves being lofted up into the stars by gusts of wind, zipping and spinning miles above the city behind their brand new friend.

The night this column appeared in the paper, though, two hundred children threw themselves out of their bedroom windows and fell to their deaths.

"Maybe make it a little harder," said Mr. McNutley. "Like, they can only fly on a certain day of the year. Or they can only fly if their middle name is Humperdinck."

"I don't know," said P. X. "I'll have to think about this." He thought long and hard, and the next time Sammy Spatula flew, observant readers noticed one very small change.

"Do you all want to go with me to Sometimesland?" Sammy asked the Sweetie kids.

"YES!" they shouted in unison.

"Well, then, think happy thoughts and let's go!"

"That's not actually better," said Mr. McNutley after discovering that this latest episode had prompted six hundred kids to plummet to their deaths. #287 was little Billy Damron, whose last words were, "It's my own fault. I should have thought about puppies instead of my little brother."

"Shucks," said P. X. the next morning. "I was sure that would work."

"Were you?" snapped Mr. McNutley. "Did you actually picture kids standing by their windows thinking, 'Wow, I sure wish I could fly but the newspaper says I have to think happy thoughts and I'm coming up fuckin' blank'? I've got ninety angry parents in my foyer demanding some kind of explanation, and aside from the fact you're a complete nincompoop I don't have a clue what to say."

"Give me one more try," said P. X. "I'll come up with something to make all the parents happy."

As the clouds parted, a crisp white beam of moonlight shone on a tiny figure dressed all in green perched on their windowsill.

"SAMMY!" cried Barbara Ann. "Please let us go flying again! Every time you've shown up in the last two weeks you've just talked about alligators and showed us how to fold clothes. Please say we can go flying again."

"We can!" crowed Sammy to the childrens' cheers. "But this part is very important: flying is very dangerous, and shouldn't be attempted by just anyone. Before we go flying, you have to tell someone."

Little Barney sighed. "But you said we can't tell our parents about you," he said.

"I've got it!" perked up Barbara Ann. "We can tell each other!" She turns to her little brother. "Barney, I'm going flying tonight!"

A grin broke out on Barney's face. "Crystal, I'm going flying too!"

Crystal giggled. "Barbara Ann, I'm going to fly all the way to Somestimesland!"

Sammy looked perplexed, but eventually he nodded his head. "Okay," he said, "let's goooooo!"

"I don't know why the fuck you thought that would solve anything," said a furious Mr. McNutley to P. X. as he pasted obituaries into the first twenty pages of his newspaper. "They don't even take it seriously in the fuckin' story."

"I'm sorry, McNutley," said P. X. "I just didn't think."

"No, you didn't. You blew it again. It's a shame: my readership was up five thousand percent." Mr. McNutley gazed sadly at the crestfallen P. X. "Okay, okay, one more go, but this time I make the rules: Kids can only fly if they have something that no English kid will ever have. Ever. Ever!"

P. X. nodded eagerly. "Thank you, sir," he said. "I'll get right on it." He wrestled with possibilities throughout the whole night, and as everyone who's read this classic of children's literature knows, in a close race between pixie dust and clean, straight teeth, pixie dust won out.


1 comment:

Yet Another Steve said...

Excellent. It's about time someone addressed the topic of Responsibility In Media.