What would a magician do if someone made fun of them?
No one likes to be made fun of. This is a fact. Well, on second thought, perhaps that’s not completely true. I once had a bunkmate at summer camp, the summer before I entered the fifth grade, who confided in me that he found nothing more exciting than the idea of all the other children in the camp looking at him, pointing their fingers, and poking fun at his extraordinary oddness. The thing was, with the exception of his peculiar wish to be the butt of everyone’s jokes, there was nothing at all odd about him. He was very plain looking. And his behavior was just as uninteresting. And in the end, no one wants to make fun of someone unless that person does not want to be made fun of. It is simply more fun that way.
But I digress. We were speaking of magicians. What would a magician do if they were made fun of? Here is an incident I discovered in the annals of the Encyclopedia Arcanna that is as good an answer to the question as my research could uncover.
The year was 1722. A famous English magician (or wizardess) by the name of Arianna Salisbury, was one day en route to her uncle’s home in the township of Manchester, when she encountered a group of seven young girls playing beneath a walnut tree along the side of the dusty, wheel rutted road. A brightly lit summers day, the girls were in the midst of a very clever game they had made up called “Let’s throw walnuts at people on the road, and hit them in the head.”
Well, needless to say, none of the clever little girls expected that a powerful magician would be making her way along the road to Manchester that day, and so when a walnut, about the size of a small fist, struck Arianna Salisbury in the head with a heavy THUNK, the wizardess spun round on her heels to face the girls, her heavy rough-spun skirts whirling about her in a storm of fabric.
“Which one of you hit me in the head with that fist-sized walnut?” Arianna Salisbury demanded.
The boldest of the group, a girl of ten or eleven, with long, ratty auburn hair and small, malicious eyes that looked as if she might have stolen them from some squeaky sewer rodent, stepped forward, raising her chin defiantly and—clearly ignorant of the fact that she was addressing a powerful mistress of magic—boldly announced: “I threw the walnut!”
And when Arianna Salisbury inquired of the girl just why she would do such a thing, the girl replied: “Because you’re nothing but a stupid poopy-head!”
At this the gaggle of girls broke into a fit of giggles and outright spiteful laughter. “Poopy-head!” they cried. “Stupid poopy-head!”
“Poopy-head, is it?” Arianna Salisbury asked calmly, raising one eyebrow before bending down and plucking the fist-sized walnut from off the ground. As she did this, the walnut suddenly split open, and from it stepped a tall, handsome boy, roughly the same age as the girls. His hair was of the darkest brown, and his large, mysterious eyes even darker. His olive complexion shone with a kind of supernatural iridescence, and he was dressed in the most expensive and pleasing-to-look-at fabrics the girls had ever seen. Indeed he looked the very picture of a prince.
With one simple glance everyone of the girls fell hopelessly in love with the boy; with thoughts of sweet words, and kisses, and weddings, and pretty dresses, and fine jewelry, and starter homes in the city, and then one day a palace with servants and admiring courtiers, and of course all the time being showered with love and affection from their very own doting, handsome-as-the-world prince charming.
The girls let loose with a collective sigh, gazing upon the boy’s beauty. And it was then that the boy screwed up his face, sniffing at the air.
“Why, you are all nothing but a bunch of poopy-heads!” he said.
The girls squealed with embarrassment, some hiding their faces with their hands, and others patting at the tops of their heads as if to make sure there was nothing undesirable there.
To the girls’ collective horror, the boy gave them one last parting look of disgust, before crawling back inside the walnut and disappearing forever, leaving the girls with swollen, tear filled eyes and broken hearts, each one.
Arianna Salisbury handed the walnut to the girl with the malicious, little rodent’s eyes, and said: “I hope that teaches you a lesson.”
The girl gazed up at the wizardess. “It does indeed, miss,” she said. “Love is a wicked cruel thing!”
Arianna’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Well, I was thinking more along the lines of, don’t make fun of people, because you might get made fun of back.”
But the words seemed lost on the girls, who soon began to squabble over who would get to keep the walnut that the prince had stepped out of. Soon followed a tangle of hair pulling, and biting, and scratching.
“It’s mine, poopy-head!” cried one of the girls.
“I’m not the poopy-head, you are!” cried another.
Arianna Salisbury turned hastily from the squabble and, quickening her pace, resumed her journey to Manchester, wondering where precisely her lesson had gone wrong. Upon her arrival at her uncle’s house (another practicing magician of the age, Richard Salisbury, a scholarly gentleman known mainly for his lifelong translation of the non-magical text The Book Of Forgotten Cheese) her uncle remarked that he believed that the girl had had the right of it, and that love was indeed a monstrously wicked thing. It should be mentioned that Richard Salisbury had been married nine times at the time of their conversation, and would go on to muck up six more marriages by the time of his death in 1752. Arianna Salisbury, who considered herself to be first and foremost a practical wizardess, but also a romantic at heart, utterly disagreed with her uncle, and could think of no finer rebuttal to his pessimistic insinuation than to say: “Uncle, stop being such an infernal poopy-head!”
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