It’s been a while since we’ve had “Uncle Michael’s Storytime” in these pages. So grab a cup of hot cocoa and some warm socks and gather around in a semicircle. Is everybody settled? Good. Does anyone need to go potty? Splendid. Now let’s begin the story.
“Once upon a time in a faraway land, there was a handsome prince who lived by himself in a magnificent castle at 509 Live Oak Drive. He wasn’t entirely alone, since underneath the castle there lived a family of moles, who loved nothing more than creating unsightly tunnels on his nice green lawn. But the prince wasn’t angry. He was on peaceful terms with the moles. In fact, they had co-signed for his castle.”
But this is not a story about the moles. In fact, don’t raise your hands to ask questions about them. Let’s keep our focus on the prince and his striking red moustache.
“The prince was a man of very regular habits, and, like many men who live in castles, he kept to the old ways. These ways made him happy. He read newspapers. He wrote letters and mailed them with stamps. He bought books with pages and drove to the video store to rent movies that he viewed on a 16-inch TV screen. He ate the same lunch almost every day. He collected vintage toys that reminded him of his childhood.
“The Prince liked network television and once spent seven years, week after week, watching a crime drama one episode at a time. He used his landline to call his mother every Saturday, but he also loved having conversations with people who were in the same room with him. He was a teacher of some renown, and he recorded his students’ grades in pencil in a spiral-bound notebook, which the other teachers regarded with great curiosity.
“The much-beloved prince had many friends. He ate tortilla chips with them once a week and was very happy. But then, the world around him began to change. People started acting oddly. They stopped reading newspapers and sending letters. They dropped their landlines and stopped talking out loud to each other. They watched seven whole seasons of a TV drama in one weekend and read books that had no pages to turn.
“And strangest of all, they bought shiny new devices called smart phones, around which they began to reconstruct their lives. They sent silent messages to each other and felt empowered. Then they grew bold and quit using commas and periods. As they did all this, they took endless pictures of themselves and insisted that the prince look at them.
“The prince was bewildered. He tried to talk to his friends. He walked up to them and said “Hi” as he always did. But now they said, “We cannot talk to you like this. You must get a smart phone and send us messages with poor spelling. Then we will talk to you.” The prince grew lonely. He liked his life and did not want to change. He thought punctuation made things better. And he worried about his friends. He would wave to them, but they would not look up. Even when they walked into the sides of buildings.
“Soon the prince was all alone. The booksellers and video stores closed down. The letters stopped coming. He tried sending emails, but that was out of style, too. His friends called him a Luddite, which they misspelled. Even his students began to shun him, demanding to know why their grades were not on something called Canvas. They did not trust the spiral-bound notebook. They started throwing water bottles and sleeping in class.
“OK,” shouted the prince. “I give in! I will learn the new way of doing things. I will get a smart phone. I will try to rub my finger across a screen and seek happiness and fulfillment in that gesture. I will adopt a less literate writing style. I will watch one TV show for 36 hours and will take more pictures of my own head. Then I will not be alone anymore,” said the prince, “for I will win back all of my friends.”
“So he went out and bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 7. But when he turned it on, the phone burst into flames, setting fire to his beautiful castle on Live Oak Drive. His precious books went up in smoke. The old plastic toys melted. The spiral-bound notebook curled and turned to ashes. Everything he loved was now burning.
“I was right after all,” the prince cried, as the flames scalded his turkey sandwich and scorched his noble moustache, “and now I must write to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to warn them.” But alas, as he searched his desk for a stamp, the roof of the castle came crashing down, and the handsome prince was no more.
“The moles, on the other hand, simply tunneled into another yard and lived happily ever after. You can follow them on Twitter.” The End.