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.”
When 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!”
The 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 Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), 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.