Illustrations by Mike Burns
Once there was a girl who always wore a green ribbon around her neck.
There was a boy who liked her, and she, in turn, liked the boy. But he was curious.
"Why do you wear that green ribbon around your neck?" he asked
"I cannot tell you" she said.
"But why not?" the boy insisted.
"It's not important" said the girl.
The boy and the girl grew up, and were married.
After the wedding the boy said "Now that we are married you must tell me about the green ribbon."
But the girl said, "No, I will tell you when the time is right."
And the boy sighed heavily.
"What?" said the girl.
"Nothing" the boy replied.
"It's obviously not nothing" said the girl.
"It's just that I feel like you don't communicate with me," said the boy.
"Oh come on," said the girl, "Name three things I don't communicate about."
"The green ribbon," said the boy, "other things I can't think of right now."
"You always do this, you try to take one small thing and pretend like it's a recurring problem. Just because I don't talk about the green ribbon doesn't mean I 'don't communicate' in general," said the girl.
"Don't turn this around on me. You're the one who's being weirdly secretive about the ribbon," said the boy.
"What's the big deal? I just like it," said the girl.
"You won't even take it off when we have sex," said the boy.
"You're going to bring our sex life into it now?" said the girl.
"I'm just saying I don't know what's going on in your head. Are you sensitive about the way your neck looks. Is it a body issue thing?" asked the boy
"Oh, fuck you. I'm PERFECTLY comfortable with my body, and I don't need you telling me I shouldn't be," said the girl
"That's not what I meant," said the boy.
"Then why don't you say what you mean," said the girl.
"I AM SAYING IT! I want to know why you wear that ribbon!" said the boy.
"WHO CARES?! It's just a thing I do. It's a fun affectation," said the girl.
The boy rolled his eyes.
"Nevermind. I'll tell you when the time is right," parroted the boy.
"Fuck you," said the girl.
"Fuck YOU! See how it feels?"
"I don't want to do this," said the girl.
"Fine by me," said the boy, "let's go to bed."
"No," said the girl, "THIS. I don't think this is working out. I want a divorce."
And then their marriage DIED BECAUSE OF MEANINGLESS BULLSHIT!
One day a man was digging through the fridge in the office lunchroom when he saw a big burrito on a shelf. He pulled it out and admired it.
"That's a nice looking burrito," he thought, "I'm going to eat it."
An hour later the man heard a strange sound. He listened closely. It sounded like a voice.
"Where is my burrito?" it groaned.
When the man heard that, he got very scared. But he thought, "there's no proof I took it."
Then he heard the voice again, only closer this time.
"Seriously, guys, where is my burrito?" it groaned.
The man directed his attention back to his computer, hoping that the voice would go away. Then he heard the voice again. Right next to his desk.
"This isn't cool. Someone took my burrito," it GROOAAAANED.
"I saw Barry eating a burrito" said Carol.
"Oh shit," thought the man, who was named Barry. He looked up at Todd, who up to this point was just a voice he had been trying to ignore.
"What the fuck, Barry?" Todd GROANED, "Why would you do that?"
Then everyone had to participate in a seminar about office courtesy run by HR, EVEN IF THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH "THE BURRITO INCIDENT"!
Once there was a man in his fifth year as an accountant. One morning the man went to fax some documents (even though it was 2013, and who the hell still faxes?) when he saw the Grim Reaper... Death himself! As the man stood there, Death beckoned to him.
The man was so terrified that he ran all the way back to his desk (which wasn't that far away, but when you have to walk back and forth to the machine all day it adds up).
"I must escape Death," he thought. So he took one of his five vacation days and drove out into the country.
It seemed to have worked because Death did not come for him.
But a few days later the man was copying the contents of one excel sheet and pasting them into another (but in a slightly different orientation) when he once again saw Death.
Steeling himself, the man yelled at Death, "Have you come for me?"
"Hmmm, what?" said Death.
"Are you here to take me?" the man asked.
"Oh. Oh, no," said Death.
"Oh," said the man, "then why are you here."
"I just like to come around every once in a while," said Death, "You know just to see what you're up to. Looks like Excel. Cool stuff."
"Not really," said the man.
"Oh," said Death, "I just assumed that you enjoyed it, since this is not the kind of work people will remember you for."
"No," said the man.
"So I just figured you must be doing something you enjoy, otherwise all this work feels like a bit of a waste," continued Death.
"Ah," said the man.
"Aaaanywho," said Death, "I better get going. But I'll be back every once in a while just to remind you that everyone eventually dies, and make you question whether the thing you're doing now is REALLY important. Y'know, In the grand scheme of things."
"Oh," said the man.
"See you later!" said Death.
AND HE DID SEE HIM LATER! MANY TIMES!
There was an old woman all skin and bonesWho lived near the graveyard all alone
She bought her home ten years agoAnd thought "My equity will grow!"
Then they built the graveyard and its value fellAnd then she found she couldn't sell.
Now she has this house no one will buyAND THE PROPERTY TAXES ARE CRAZY HIGH!
While Ruth slept, a spider crawled across her face. It stopped for several minutes on her left cheek, then went on its way.
"What is this red spot on my left cheek?" she asked her boyfriend the next morning.
"Gross," said her boyfriend, "You should see a doctor."
So she did.
"It's MRSA" said the doctor.
"What?" asked Ruth.
"Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. An antibiotic resistant bacteria. Potentially life threatening and very difficult to treat."
"Oh," said Ruth, "Are you sure it's not a bug bite, or spider eggs or something? There's, like, a shit-ton of spiders in my apartment."
"Gross," said the doctor, "but no. That would be much better. Early stages of MRSA can look like a bug bite but it is in fact a deadly infection that can spread to your bones, lung, and heart."
"Will it be expensive to treat it?" asked Ruth.
There was an old farmer who owned the best farm in the county. Whenever anyone asked him why his crops were so good, the farmer would credit his scarecrow.
The old farmer had spent months building the most terrifying looking scarecrow. It had long spindly limbs of rotting wood. Its hands were made of rusted pitchforks. Its clothes were tattered and blood-stained. But the most terrifying part was its head. Carved from a pumpkin into a terrifying snarl. Even people were afraid to look at it -- the crows and rats stayed even farther away.
The neighboring farm was owned by two young, lazy men, Jasper and Edgar, who were jealous of the old farmer's success.
One day Jasper said, "Say, if that old farmer didn't have his scarecrow, his farm would be just as terrible as ours."
"You're right," said Edgar, "Let's steal that rotten old scarecrow!"
So they plucked it out of the field, and hid it in their closet.
That night they heard a knocking sound.
"Hey," said Jasper, "That sounds like it's coming from the closet!"
Slowly, sloooowly, he opened the door. The scarecrow was just sitting there.
The knocking came again.
"Oh, no, wait," said Jasper, "It's the front door."
"Why did you think it was the closet?" said Edgar.
"I don't know. The acoustics in here are weird. Shut up," said Jasper as he opened the front door.
It was the old farmer.
"Hey," he said, "Can I have my scarecrow back?"
"We don't have your scarecrow, old man," Jasper said.
"I know that's a lie. I have a wide open field and a clear view from the farmhouse. I watched you two pick it up and carry it in here," said the old farmer.
"Ah," said Jasper.
"Why would you do that?" asked the old farmer, looking very wounded.
Jasper shuffled his feet.
"I don't know. I guess we took your success to be evidence of our failure. I feel like I deserve your success as much as you do, but I don't have anything. And that makes me angry. But then I think back and I realize I haven't put in nearly as much work as you have. And that makes me hate myself, which makes me hate you even more, even though I know you're not to blame for that. Huh, just saying it out loud makes it seem kinda silly," said Jasper.
"Oh, don't worry," said the old man, "I was once a young farmer too. I know those feelings. Just remember that other people's success is not your failure. Focus on you."
"Thank you. Those are some awful kind words, old man. Say, I don't even know your name! I always just call you "old man". said Jasper.
"It's Jasper," said the old farmer.
"That's my name too!" said the first Jasper.
"See," said the old farmer, "we're not so different."
They all laughed, and Jasper and Edgar helped Old Jasper (as they now called him) put the scarecrow back in his field.
"Well, I feel better," said Jasper as he and Edgar returned home.
"But, hold on," said Edgar, "What if we do all that hard work, and focus on our own work like he said, and we STILL fail."
"Oh shit. That'd be awful," said Jasper.
And so, crippled by fear of failure, they did nothing and LIVED A LIFE OF BITTERNESS AND MEDIOCRITY!