November 7th, 2015
Once upon a time in a dark kingdom of wickedness and tall dead trees, there lived a peasant boy with his kindly grandfather in a long metal cabin.
The peasant boy was taught by his grandfather that he was just as good as the mightiest prince and that no man, be they of noble stature or nay, was better or worse than he. The peasant boy took this to heart and remembered it his entire life.
Furthermore, since no one was better or worse than he, there was no reason to assume he could not one day be considered noble. Because while he may have been taught that all men were created equal, he did not in his heart believe that. Or maybe he did, and recognized early on in his young life that those of nobler stuff were given more praise, more rewards, more chances to succeed, more. . . everything. Certainly more than a lowly peasant boy living in a long metal shack would get. This made him feel sad at the way the world was and sad for himself because he was not a noble.
The boy would spend the rest of his life trying to become a prince, or a king, or something of higher stature than he grew up in. He went into the world and attempted to be seen as a noble. But no matter how hard he tried, he ended up being a jester.
He sang songs, he told tales, he made merry and he developed a sharp wit. He became a very good jester, a very fine jester indeed. But this did not make him happy. Being a jester left him at the mercy of those he entertained. If they enjoyed his songs and jokes, he may be invited back to perform again. If they didn’t, he would be banished. Sometimes they liked him but could not figure out which other jesters and troupes to have him perform with.
The jester performed for big crowds and small. Mostly small. Sometimes he would begin performing in a king’s court and find part of the way through the performance that the King, his Queen and most of the assemblage had nipped out for a cigarette. Verily, the jester would announce he had two songs left to perform and a few patrons would drag themselves back in out of sheer politeness.
All the nagging feelings of self-doubt that plagued the jester in his childhood grew up with him and continued to haunt him. Was he really a good jester? What if he was actually terrible? There are other jesters who are far more successful than he, having found major-label patronage by a big time noble or clergyman. He attempted to pass the hat on the street corners but would have to give all the money back after the deadline passed without meeting his funding goal.
The jester began to feel like he had banged his head against the wall over and over. Perhaps he should not have become a jester. Perhaps he should have gotten a real estate licence instead. And furthermore it occurred to him that the most successful jesters make far less than they earn, having to tithe a percentage to their agents, managers, vendors. Plus they had to recoup expenses. Furthermore, he had never seen a jester become a king.
He discussed this on the internet but what he got in response didn’t help. “Try being a female jester. A three-day jester festival may only feature a dozen female acts or female-fronted troupes out of hundreds of performers.” “You think that’s bad? How about the feminist movement excluding jesters of color?” “I’m a trans jester and I prefer to spell it ‘jystyr’.” This didn’t not make him happy or thankful that he wasn’t a transgender woman of color. It only made him sadder and seemed to confirm he had made a bad life choice far too soon.
As a child, he had wanted to be a noble. Then he wanted to be a jester. Then he wanted to be a success. But he wasn’t a success. So he decided to stop being a jester. And now he was nothing. Now he had no purpose and nothing to work for. And he was still sad.
He went home to his long metal cabin/shack. It was falling apart. His bed was broken. His favorite comfy chair was also broken. His grandfather was older and becoming infirm. It would not be long before his grandfather was gone. Then what would the ex-jester do? He became afraid to lose his grandfather until the old man became so sick that the boy wished he would pass if only so the old man could have peace.
When he was a boy, he had a dream and the support of the one person who loved him the most. Now he was older and he didn’t have his grandfather. And he didn’t have the dream anymore. He had a broken-down bed and a chair that was uncomfortable to sit in. He turned out to be less than a peasant. He was not able to earn his keep, as a jester or as anything else. He was disenchanted. He was disenfranchised. He was dis-abled. He was disabled. He was disabled.
He is disabled. You can not hear him in the courts of noblemen any longer. There are always merry bands of singers, those who practice jape, and hilarious jester. He is at home in his ill-fitting comfy chair playing Tetris and waiting for the next event in his life to happen to him. He does not feel empowered to go out and change the course of his life. He does not feel like he can change the course of his life, not without significant help.
Because he is disabled, you see.
This was an inefficient fairy tale. It didn’t have a snappy ending and it took to long to get there. If you want, go back and reread it and stop every few paragraphs to listen to a song from your favorite Disney movie. See if it helps.