The Emperor’s New Clothes by Barbara Ardinger

On the day the Big Boss decided he wanted to be the Emperor of Everywhere, the first thing he did was pull on his red cap embroidered with the words Make Me Greater Again. He tied the strings under some of his chins and adjusted the earflaps so he could more plainly hear the Spirit of the Cap. The first thing the Spirit of the Cap told him was that an Emperor needed appropriate clothing. The Big Boss pulled out the mail-order catalogue from which he ordered his custom-tailored suits and paged through until he came to the perfect photograph of the perfect Emperor’s New Clothes, which was a royal robe of pure silk the color of peacocks’ tails. “Yesss,” said the Spirit of the Cap. “Order this one.” The Big Boss picked up one of his phones and placed the order. “I want it right now,” he told the operator. “I am very, very important. I always demand very, very immediate service.”

red capWhen the Spirit of the Cap upon which were embroidered the words I Am Always Very, Very Great told the Big Boss he needed consultants, the Boss called his posse together and ordered referrals. “I always get what I want very, very quickly,” he told the posse, which consisted of several of his wives and the goodfellas that ran the real estate where Ladies of the Night and their Good Friends gambled the nights away. “I make very, very good deals,” said the Big Boss. “Find me some very, very good advisors. If you don’t, you’re fired.”

Knowing that the constituency cared more about violent professional sports than anything else, the posse’s first recommendations were the great and tolerant Ty Cobb and the equally great and honest Pete Rose. “You’re hired,” said the Big Boss. Then he adjusted the earflaps of the red cap upon which were embroidered the words Make Me Very, Very Successful and listened again to the Spirit of the Cap. “You need an Advisor to prove the climate isn’t changing,” said the Spirit.

The Big Boss told the posse to go out and get one. They came back with Immanuel Velikovsky, who, while still omniscient, was so old he had turned into a giant cricket. “Oil was deposited on earth,” he said, “when the moon…or was it Venus?…well, when some heavenly body crashed into the earth and gouged out the Pacific Ocean then bounced over Arabia and dropped loads of oil, which immediately seeped under the sands of many lands.” “That’s very, very good,” said the Big Boss. “We can scoop up all that sandy oil and burn it with no effect on climate. You’re hired.”

Again he adjusted the earflaps of the red cap upon which were embroidered the words Make the Constituency Very, Very Obedient and listened to the Spirit. “You need to appeal to the diversity of the constituency,” said the Spirit. “Hire a Diversity Expert or two.” The Big Boss sent the posse out again. They came back with William M. “Boss” Tweed and Louis B. Mayer. “You’re hired,” said the Big Boss. “Help me appeal to the diversities that want me to be Emperor of Everywhere. What have they got to lose?” “We’ll help you make everywhere great again,” said the two experts.

“And,” said the Spirit of the red cap upon which were embroidered the words Make Me Very, Very Persuasive, “an Emperor always needs at least one Empress. Get a new girl to stand beside you.” This time, the Boss did not send out the posse. (They were all too busy playing golf on his golf course on a plateau above a flooded plain.) He knew where to go.

After checking his mailbox—his new clothes were on the way, and he also found several notes from the Real Boss that said If you keep playing my songs at your rallies, I’ll sue you for intellectual theft—the Big Boss flew into the woods beyond the flooded valley that surrounded his golf course. He punched some alligators out of the way, roared back at some lions, tigers, and bears, and landed on the lawn in front of the palace (one he had not yet purchased) where the Princess was lying in her glass case, sound asleep. The Big Boss knocked all the dwarfs into kingdom come, then pushed the button that raised the glass lid above the Princess. The suction of his kiss jerked her awake. “You’re going to be my very, very beautiful Empress,” the Big Boss said to the Sleeping Beauty.

She was not amused. “That’s what you think,” she said…but before she could say another word, a horseman galloped onto the lawn. He was carrying a big box from Emperor’s New Clothes et Cie, WFOE, SOE, Ltd.

“I am very, very happy,” said the Big Boss as he ripped the package open, hurling the wrapping paper to the four winds, which obligingly shredded the paper and blew the pieces everywhere. The Big Boss pulled his Emperor’s New Clothes out of the box and immediately stripped down so he could put the robe on. Off came his gray suit, size XXL. Off came his red tie and white shirt with the pricey cufflinks (which were carried away by squirrels and magpies). Off came his size XS Speedo, and all the cute forest creatures that had gathered to see what was going on (or, actually, coming off) suddenly turned their backs. The Big Boss pulled the size XS Speedo back on. And then he put on the Emperor’s New Clothes. “Oh, look!” he said to his posse, “I am very, very handsome!”

peacock tailThe Emperor’s new robe was indeed handsome. It was not only made of pure silk woven from the excrement of silkworms the colors of peacocks’ tails, but it also featured very, very deep pockets. And, like peacocks’ tails, it was covered with eyes. The eyes opened. They looked up and down. They saw the posse. When the posse saw that they were being scrutinized, they faded into the scenery.

The Big Boss ignored the disappearing posse. “I am now the Emperor of Everywhere,” he proclaimed—

—and down from the clouds came a voice. “Oh, no, you’re not,” said this voice, echoes of which came up from the earth beneath his feet and from the four cardinal directions. “This is Your Mother speaking,” said the great voice. “You are emperor of nothing more than your own ego. For your visible and hidden crimes, I bind and banish you!” Suddenly the Almost Emperor was surrounded by angry women holding magic wands and powerful crystals and woman’s cards with magic words on them. “We invoke the elemental spirits!” the women cried, and suddenly a great wind came blowing in from the east, a great fire began roaring in the south, a tsunami came flooding out of the west, and in the north the earth began to quake. The elemental spirits, which were huge Ancient Beings, surrounded the Big Boss. “We come at the call of the women,” they thundered down at him. “We come at the call of the Great Goddess. You are very, very disrespectful of the constituency.” “You sure are!” cried the constituency, which had suddenly appeared. “You’re fired!” they cried out in one voice. “Yes,” said the Voice of the Goddess, “you’re fired.”

And the red cap upon which were embroidered the words I Used to be Very, Very Great untied itself and rose into the sky, where an eagle caught and shredded it. And then Emperor’s new clothes disappeared, and there he was, naked except for his size XS Speedo. He spoke: “I am very, very—“ And he was gone in a burst of wind.


Barbara ArdingerBarbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (, is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic.  Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every Day, Finding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations.  When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the Neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.

Categories: Fiction, Goddess, Politics

Tags: , , ,

14 replies

  1. Brilliant and hilarious. I guffawed out loud! I add a hearty “So mote it be!”


  2. Presuming they read, unlike the guy in the red hat; I doubt if the basket of deplorables will get it!


  3. Gosh Barbara A! That sounds just like … now, who could it be? :-) Makes me wonder about his mother. I hear only that his father gave him lots and lots, of a “little loan”. (Wonder if he paid back that loan?) But I never hear anything about his mother.

    Hopefully, people with some sanity will vote and deflate “the Donald”.


  4. Such a relief to enter into story… helps me to find relief from insanity


  5. I put all those “very, verys” in there just to help people know who the emperor is. ;-)


  6. A “very, very” welcome bit of humor, but also great truth in that it will be the women who keep him out of the White House. Brava!


  7. Brava Barbara! That was wonderful! It is so much fun to laugh at the would-be emperor and his XS Speedo! :-) I also wonder about his birth mother. All I’ve read is that she was from Scotland. I haven’t heard much about his sister, either, except that she is a judge.


    • I hope lots of people watched last week’s Frontline show on PBS. Last Tuesday. It showed and explained the biographies of both candidates. One of Trump’s mentors was Roy Cohn, one of the evilest people ever to live (among other things, he persecuted the Rosenbergs and worked for Joe McCarthy). Hillary learned the value of silence and keeping things to herself early on. I’m sure it’s still available on to download or watch online.


  8. I enjoyed it. Thanks, Barbara. Given this election, we need your humor more than ever.


  9. Very, very great piece, Barbara! As always, it was UUUUUGE!

    Your clever storytelling had me nodding my head, saying “Yes…yes…that’s exactly the comeuppance the would-be emperor needs!” and wishing for a community like the one in your “Secret Lives,” who could band together, link hands, and effect the needed binding and protection.

    Perhaps we all do this separately (at least, I hope we do, by our various means) and can keep each other sane and hopeful this threatening Fall. I feel a little less like Cassandra when I’m reading you, anyway.

    Which is very, very good.


  10. Barbara – pure genius!! I love the end and how he was defeated – by angry women invoking elemental spirits. Bravo


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