Fractured Parables: The Periodic Son
Once upon a time in a land far far away, there lived a man with two sons. They grew up safely in a house provided to them by their father.
The first of his sons found life in the house boring. He excelled in tamberine-playing and longed to one day to play his tamberine for the really famous bands. Most nights, he stayed up late, carousing with his friends, playing the tamberine into the wee hours of the morning. His father encouraged him to study hard and go to college, but secretly he was proud of his son’s free spirit. The son, “Tamberine,” as he was known to his family and friends, must have sensed his father’s disingenuity, and ignored his pleas (sic) to study and enter the workforce.
The other son was boring. He went to college and got a boring degree and then a boring office job and had a boring family and they all got fat. Don’t get me wrong, he was a nice guy and all, but boring and uncreative and uptight (Please don’t tell him I said that).
Tamberine on the other hand, did not have a boring life. He was able to go to far away places where throngs of tattoo-and-leather-clad people would drive for miles to see him play tamberine in the band. He also had his share of good looking women, if you know what I mean. Everyone found him charming.
It was not however, Tamberine’s band. The band was the property of the lead singer. And so, while Tamberine was famous, he was paid less for his Tamberine playing than most workers in the fast-food industry. But he enjoyed the playing and tamberine playing so much, that he kept going to the far away places with the band. This went on for more than two decades.
Meanwhile, the boring son left his boring home, and managed to squeeze in an adventure before settling into his boring life.
The father fretted over Tamberine. Tamberine now had grey hair, and a meager house, piles of debts, and nothing else really to show for his life on the stage. One day, Tamberine looked around and had a mid-life crisis. Not just a normal average mid-life crisis either, that boring people have. But a huge mid-life crisis, the kind that Really Great People get when they realize that they’ve accomplished nothing in their Really Great Lives.
And looking around, he had a flash of insight. “I lived in a better house when I lived with my boring father and my boring brother. Maybe if I call them and tell them about my awful mid-life crisis, that they will reach into their back pockets and pull out another house like they live in now. Surely they will see that it is unjust for boring people to have more than people like myself, and share from their secret largess.”
So the father, hearing his son call from far off, lept up and down with joy. He was vindicated – he was not a failure as Tamberine’s parent. He offered to go into a business deal with Tamberine, that would be cobbled together with Tamberine’s sweat and father’s money. The father was retired, so he had to dip into his pathetic life savings and mortgage his boring house. But it was worth it to him for the chance to see Tamberine finally flourish.
Some time later, the investment that Tamberine and his father were working on, went south. Boring Father pled with Tamberine to make good on his promises, but Tamberine stopped working and set out to other ventures, leaving his father holding the bag.
Boring Son, meanwhile, was quietly helping Boring Father with his mounting expenses, some of which were mortgage payments. Sometimes Boring Son would get inexplicably angry. People would ask him, “Why so uptight?”