The emperor's clothes

Art Buchwald

October 17, 1991|By Art Buchwald

THE EMPEROR received a report from his chief tester that no children in his empire could read or write.

He asked his royal image maker what he should do about it.

The sage said, "This gives us a chance for a photo opportunity. We will go to a school near the palace and talk to the children about learning their ABCs."

So the next day, led by the royal flack, the entire court and all the emperor's scribes went to a school.

They entered Miss Boomboom's class and the children stood up and bowed and then cheered at a signal from the emperor's master of arms, the Royal Sununu.

The emperor started to read a scroll proclaiming that he wanted all his subjects to read and write as long as it didn't cost any money or raise courtiers' taxes.

Suddenly from the back of the room Dorcan McBridge jumped up and cried, "The emperor has no clothes."

"Arrest that child," said the emperor's chief image maker.

"Feed him to the lions," cried the emperor's chief speech writer.

The palace guards formed a circle around Dorcan.

"Wait," said the emperor. "He must be reasoned with. Dorcan, the truth of the matter is that I do have clothes on. But they are made of Teflon and that's why you cannot see them. Do you know what Teflon is?"

Dorcan shook his head.

"It is the finest cloth that money can buy. It is so thin that nobody can see it. A child might think that I have no clothes on, but an adult knows that I'm well covered. Do you know why I have a Teflon cloak?"

Dorcan shook his head.

"Because there is so much discontent in the land. People have no jobs, some have no place to sleep, others put all their savings in banks and went broke, and I sent 500,000 royal soldiers to Gog and I have nothing to show for it. But this cape protects me from anyone blaming me for everything that has gone wrong. You don't believe me?"

Dorcan didn't say anything.

"This garment was given to me by Ronald the Good. He wore it as long as he ruled, and no one ever laid a glove on him. He gave it to me and said it would protect me from my domestic enemies and any malcontents in my empire. So you see, I do have clothes on after all."

Dorcan's teacher said, "Tell the emperor you are sorry for the outburst, Dorcan."

"I don't believe him," Dorcan protested.

The Royal Sununu was about to box the boy's ears when the emperor said, "Wait, we don't want to spoil this photo opportunity. Dorcan, I will prove to you that I am wearing Teflon. Say anything you want to me -- anything at all."

"You're not an education emperor and you never planned to be one," Dorcan blurted out.

The emperor smiled. "You see, you can't get to me. Your statement, while provocative, had no effect."

"You don't care about the subjects of your empire who cannot find work, and your whole court is against equal rights."

The emperor said, "I couldn't even feel it. Dorcan, the most

important thing you can learn in school is that if a person has

Teflon, he has everything."

The teacher wrote the word Teflon on her blackboard.

The royal image maker put away his camera and announced, "OK, Your Majesty, it's a wrap."

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