Once upon a time, in
a kingdom far, far away, there lived a wise but sad king. The king was wise
because he spoke eloquently and passionately to his people and genuinely loved
them. However, the king was also sad because he wanted to be the greatest king his
country ever had, but, deep in his heart, doubted himself and secretly
suspected he was not up to the task. The king’s sadness stayed with him and
rested on his furrowed brow like the heavy crown he wore day and night, a
symbol of his royal rule.
The king had a tailor
who made all his clothes, the Merchant of Davis. The king had known the
Merchant since they were children. The king, who himself had no sense of style,
gladly wore all the clothes the Merchant made him, no matter how bland,
uncolorful, ill-fitting or unattractive.
Finally, there came a day, during the middle of
a royal parade no less, when one of the king’s suits of clothes completely
unraveled, leaving the king’s body barely covered. The people attending the
parade, shocked to see their beloved king in such a state of undress, covered
their children’s eyes and, out of respect, averted their gaze until the parade
The king, humiliated, dejected and further
doubting himself, reluctantly replaced his childhood friend and appointed a new
royal tailor, this one of noble birth, the Earl of Zenu. He had many beliefs
that were strange to the king, but Zenu was a clever designer with a sharp eye
for fashion. The people could once again be proud of the king’s clothes.
However, unknown to the people, the king met
another man, a mysterious figure known only as Count Manuel. The Count wore
spectacles with lenses as black as the sun is bright. He wore dark clothing and
spoke rapidly in a tongue filled with strange jargon, speaking of things which
sounded wondrous but were, in fact, beyond the king’s ability to understand.
The Count was very convincing, and soon the king entrusted his entire army to
the control of Count Manuel.
As Zenu sewed day and night to prepare the
king’s new, fashionable wardrobe, Manuel used his influence to tell the king of
an amazing, magical fabric. According to the Count, this cloth could only be
seen by persons who were fit to be part of the kingdom. Those who loved and
worshipped the king would see his beautiful, colorful clothing, ornate enough
to make a peacock blush. But to those who were not friends or supporters of the
king, the cloth would be invisible, and the king would look like he was wearing
no clothing at all.
Unfortunately, the truth is there was no such
cloth. Quality kingly clothing is made from years of dedicated hard work, honed
by the real-world experience that comes only with sewing many, many garments.
Looking back years later, the writers of histories would disagree about the
motives of Count Manuel. Was he simply a skilled salesman who knew the cloth
was not real and intentionally deceived a good man, or did the Count become so
involved in his own schemes that he actually believed the cloth was real? No
one knows for sure.
Count Manuel prepared a magical suit of clothes
for the king and presented it to him in private. Obviously, because the cloth
was not real, the king saw nothing. However, secretly worried that he himself
might not be fit for the kingdom and deeply anxious to know who his true supporters
were, the king pretended to see the suit of clothes Count Manuel brought to
him. The king went through the motions of putting on clothes and stood before a
full-length mirror, posing this way and that. The king, anxious about being
exposed, went to great lengths to praise Count Manuel’s suit of clothes.
Little Bill, the king’s speechwriter, also
pretended to see the clothing and began that day writing many long, intricate
speeches about the beauty and regalness of the Count’s clothing. Other noblemen,
including the Knight of Cohiba, Baron of Asset, Viscount of Cigarro Grande and
Marquis of Skybox, all of whom had prospered greatly under the rule of the
king, also convinced themselves that Manuel’s clothing was not only real, but
perhaps the finest garments any king anywhere had ever worn.
The next day at the royal parade, the king wore
his new clothes for the first time in public. As the king mounted his horse, he
felt a chill in the air. Count Manuel assured the king such a feeling was
common with clothing made from such airy and light fabric. In fact, behind his
dark glasses, Count Manuel seemed to have an explanation for everything.
As the king urged his steed forward, he was
dismayed to see the expressions on the faces of the people lining the parade.
They looked puzzled and confused, secretly whispering in each other’s ears,
gently shaking their heads in agreement. Although no one would admit it, none
of the common people saw the king’s new clothes.
The king, having convinced himself of his finery,
continued the parade, sitting straight and tall in the saddle. The procession
went on in eerie silence until one little boy, too young and naīve to
understand his actions, pointed at the king as screamed, “The king has no
As the boy’s mother desperately tried to cover
the child’s mouth, other children began screaming, laughing and pointing at the
nude king. Beginning with the youngest then moving to the oldest, all the
commoners cried with a loud voice, “The king is naked!” and “The king has no
The king, unfortunately, was no longer able to
hear their cries. Sitting atop his royal stallion, high above his subjects, the
king moved his hands to where his shirt cuffs should have been, pulled on the
imaginary fabric, stuck his chin high in the air and rode on, wearing nothing
but his delusion.
graduate of the University of Texas, Jeff Conner has held many jobs in his
life: husband, brother, uncle, son, oil field roustabout, short-order cook,
sandblaster, irrigation pipe mover, musician, retail assistant manager,
attorney-at-law, public school teacher, preacher, cartoonist and writer. While
he does have a hot, young wife, Conner is neither as clever nor as good-looking
as he believes himself to be. Jeff is currently teaching 8th grade math and
G.T. algebra in Taylor, Texas, home of the Fighting Ducks. Conner’s regularly
submitted commentary appears in InsideTexas.com and Inside Texas Magazine. The
opinions presented do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inside Texas