Once there was a lodge whose host refused no guest. Every year there was a festival that brought people from the entire land. And it was known that this lodge would take anyone in. So the guests who arrived first found other place to lodge because they knew that this lodge would be the most crowded of all even thought the host was also the nicest of all hosts. And those people who came early tended to be the most responsible and easy to look after. Then the lodge’s proper rooms filled up in an instant. And the host had many more folk that she fit wherever she could. there would be people sleeping under the kitchen counter, on the tables, up in the rafters, and even in closets. Kids were stuffed in cabinets. And when she offered the bed behind the kitchen, a guest asked where she would sleep and she’d tell them not to worry about her and to take the bed. And rumor had it that from this answer she gave over the years that she in fact did not sleep at all on this night. And so she had this air of sacrifice about her. And it made her guests see her smile as a smile of genuine concern for their well-being. Eventually it became so full that the people who had the rooms had to share them with more people. It seemed as if everyone was bickering and fighting over their space.
By the end of the night, she gazed on the spectacle with the biggest smile. Look at all these arms and legs twisted up together in some strange tapestry, she told herself. And then she closed the door quietly behind her and stepped over into the house next door that was entirely hers. And her empty house felt like the most spacious castle she could ever imagine being in. And on that night, as every year, she slept better than any other night.
Once there was a prince who was the most spoiled prince of all. When the king would not give him one thing that he wanted, it would be the first and last time because the prince did not know how spoiled he was since the king had spoiled him so completely.
But somehow the prince had a gut feeling that the king might say “no,” so he asked for his wish in front of the entire kingdom. And the one time the king put his foot down, it felt like an elephant’s foot stepping on a pampered pup and the audience witnessed his little beating heart pop out of his little spoiled puppy dog chest.
All the innocent prince had wanted was to house the poor and sick in their castle in order to care for them as a member of their own family. The kingdom heard the prince’s wish and cheered for his charity and felt his love in their hearts with his spoiled request.
This made the king so irate that he called his son a spoiled brat before all of his subjects and in that moment the king looked like the most spoiled brat of all to his entire kingdom. It was as if his own son had split him in half with a sharp diamond-edged sword. One half his self-image made by him wobbled at the other image of him made by his kingdom. Caught between the betrayal of his son and his kingdom and his own betrayal of them drove the king mad. The prince thereby ascended the throne and became a king who spoiled the poor and sick until they were neither anymore.
I wrote this tale because “spoiled” is such a loaded word. Call someone spoiled and it is extremely offensive. But it also has this boomerang effect. For example, parents who spoil their children seem to be prone to calling their children spoiled. Or politically-minded people seem to thrive on the idea that their opponents are the spoiled ones, while their opponents think the same of them. Spoiled people do not think they are spoiled but are quick to point out someone who is more spoiled than they. Lastly, the word can have a pleasurable connotation. When you spoil a child or a pet rotten and they exhibit spoiled behavior at you who spoiled them, you can get this feeling where anger at being taken for granted crosses its wires with your absolute devotion for what you love and the result fills the chest and flares the nostrils with a certain joyous mischief.