Quirky Contemplations: Giving Back (A Reassembled Script)

QC Koan: If all the world’s a stage, but no one is in the theater to watch the play, do the players stick to the script?

And now for today’s story, which is a parable of perception.

Title #2: Giving Back (The Gumball Fantasy)

They met in the lobby.

“You look rather dapper tonight,” Henry said to his friend.

“Dapper,” Hal repeated, chuckling over the arcane use of language.

“The production is about to start, perhaps we should take our seats.” Henry and Hal strode into the theater and located their relatively expensive reserved seats.

“The play is the thing.” Henry said that every time, and Hal had taken to ignoring him.  Henry looked at the hands in his lap and suddenly seemed serious.

“I saw one on the way from the parking lot,” he began.

“Saw one what?” Hal asked.

“Homeless person.”

“What did you do?”

“Nothing, she was on the other side of the street.” They were silent for a moment.  Henry was not ready to change the subject.  “I give back when I can,” he said a little defensively.

“I pay taxes when I have to,” replied Hal.  That seemed to be the end of the conversation.  The lights were dimming.  Henry wasn’t quite through with his thoughts.

But really, how does one give back? thought Henry.  It seemed like an impossible question to answer. The flavor in his mouth had gone bad.  Deftly, he removed stale gum from his mouth and placed it under his seat, not thinking to whom this little “gift” was given. Instead he thought of the many times he’d hid gum from his schoolteacher, while wishing he could be like a chew chew train.  The play on words still seemed funny to him.

While watching the play, Henry could not get his mind off a photo he’d recently seen of the worlds largest gumball.  A world record – wasn’t that an act of giving?  Then the idea came to him.  He could save all his chewed gum in a plastic bag – the kind that seal.  Then he could store them in his garage.  Since he’d quit smoking he chewed a lot of gum.  When he had enough chewed gum, he could begin his project, a quest to make the world’s largest gumball.  Like all great ideas, there would be initial resistance.  But as it caught on, folks would come from miles around just to add their gum to the project. It would unite the community.  The Boy Scouts would help out, perhaps even earn a merit badge in gum-balling (he was sure they would come up with a better name).  Yes, they could go for a world record, a tourist attraction, money to the local economy.

When the play was over, Hal asked Henry (as he always did), “Well, what did you think?”

It was a good idea, but I’m afraid it just wouldn’t work, Henry thought.  Then he said: “It gave me a lot to chew on, but I don’t think my wife would approve.” Henry stopped talking so that he could put a fresh stick of gum into his mouth.

At first Hal had no idea what Henry was talking about.  Then he thought he figured it out. “I get it, you mean the sexy dancers.  Those are thoughts that married men best keep to themselves.”

Henry wasn’t listening, and continued with the commentary on his gumball fantasy.  “Sometimes it’s the thought that counts.” Hal agreed, but for completely different reasons.  They both left the theater feeling contented, having reassembled the world, line by line, into bite-sized and disposable portions.

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