C-BOG: The Emperor's New Clothes

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By Jeff Conner, Special to Inside Texas
Posted Nov 2, 2012
Copyright © 2014 InsideTexas.com


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The King's castle?

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 was over.

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 clothes!”

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 clothes!”

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.

Hook ‘em.

A 1986 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 editorial staff.

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