A Modern Day Fable
by Jan Baughman

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, nearly another planet, there lived a little girl. The girl wasn't very smart, and she certainly wasn't pretty. Her friends always made fun of her big nose and her crooked teeth and the boys taunted her endlessly because she didn't know how to fend off their advances. All she dreamed of was growing up and getting away from the trailer park and some day, somehow, being rich and famous and laughing at all of her tormentors. Unfortunately, she didn't have much of an education or any skills, but she went to work for a big institution with lots of powerful people, where with luck, she could become someone.

One day - a day not unlike any other - she was summonsed to the big boss's hotel room, where he made her an offer that she refused. Life went on and she maintained her little career and even got a husband. Until one fine day - a day finer than any other - when she realized that the big boss who had shown her his offerings was an even BIGGER boss now. She went on television and named the boss and his offerings, and asked for some money and an apology.

Suddenly, the girl had more friends than she had ever known. Other women like her appeared out of nowhere to help her fight the big, bad boss. Even some evil, tricky men befriended her and offered her candy and surgery and money to help her feel better. They told her that God and the Republicans would be on her side if she would help them with a little project. They seemed nice enough and they all cared about her so much that she felt good. "If I had a million dollars", she thought, "and a new nose and straight teeth, and new clothes and a new car and an apology from the big, bad boss, my life would be just perfect".

Never before had so many people cared about her. The tricky men got together with the most evil star in all the land, who was already after the bad boss and his wife for bad things they had supposedly done with their money. It was only a matter of time before all the boss's bad deeds were lumped together, and the evil man found even more girls like her to add to the pot. Her future could only be bright.

Then a lady judge who was always right told the girl that the big, bad boss hadn't done anything that really hurt her and that he didn't owe her anything. "How can this be?" she cried. "Where would my career be if this bad thing hadn't happened?!?" If only I had two million dollars, she thought, I could get away from all these mean people and the mean publicity.

She tried and tried to get even with the big, bad boss, to no avail, and in the end the tricky men cost about three million dollars and the big, bad boss agreed to get her off his back with $850,000 and no apology. After taxes and a few new outfits for the talk show circuit, she was only nearly three million dollars in debt, and she hoped that her new friends would still be around to help. She still believed she had done the right thing for herself and for her country.

She never really thought about the consequences of her actions. She was born in a land where any little boy could grow up to be President and any little girl, with the help of the right man, could become a member of high society. She never did learn that a new nose, straightened teeth, new clothing and a Mercedes don't change the book beneath the cover, or that the needs of the Many far outweigh the needs of the Few.

But she did learn the biggest lesson of all: The first offer you receive is usually the best one you'll get.

Published November 14, 1998
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