“What should we do?” asked the viceroy. “Should we just top eating gluten altogether?” The king weighed the matter up carefully, then responded: “No. We’ll also have to eat that poisonous stuff and start acting like crazy people. But!” he continued. “We will have t-shirts printed up bearing the legend: ‘Remember, you are crazy.’ I will see your t-shirt, and remember that I’m nuts, and you will see mine, and do the same.”
And so it was agreed.
He rolled up to the first house, rang the bell, and waited. Suddenly, three externally-mounted surveillance cameras swung round in his direction, and focused in, while a taut voice barked out through the intercom “What do you want?! Did the people of the Great Star send you?”
The viceroy cleared his throat, and replied: “I’m from the king. We’ve got a food supply problem that is sending us all crazy at the moment, and I’m trying to educate people about it. I’m also giving out these t-shirts.” The viceroy held one up to the nearest camera, which seemed to scan it carefully and nod.
“Listen, buddy, I’m fine, but my neighbor really needs to hear what you’re telling him. I’ve been warning him for years that the people from the Great Star are about to open up a vortex in the sky and suck everyone up over to a different dimension – and the guy can’t hear a word I’m saying! So try next door.”
Because the viceroy was a little crazy himself, he did as the man suggested.
He tramped up to the rhinestone-encrusted door, and rang the bell. It was opened by a woman in her 50s with dyed-blonde hair and an unfortunate habit of wearing too-tight black tank tops. “Yah?” she drawled out. “I’m from the king…” the viceroy began, but that’s as far as he got.
“Can’t be!” she cut him off. “The king lives here, and I’d know if you were working for us.” The viceroy was temporarily speechless, so the woman decided to prove her point. “Ellllvisssss!!!”she yelled behind her. “Come here a moment, honey, someone wants to see the king.”
An aging, overweight man with 10 rings on each hand and a huge, dyed-black quiff suddenly appeared behind her. “Elvis, honey, tell this guy who you are,” the blonde gatekeeper prompted. “I’m da king!” Elvis exclaimed.
“How can that be?!” the viceroy remonstrated. “Elvis died more than 30 years ago!” “Geez, you guys and your conspiracy theories…” the blonde rolled her eyes theatrically. “Elvis honey, you’re alive aren’t you?” The man grunted “Uhuh”, and went straight into a rendition of “You ain’t nothing but a hound-dog.”
Just then, the viceroy felt his phone vibrating – a message. He pulled it out and read:“Remember you are crazy, and so are they.” It was from the king. The viceroy mopped his face with his hanky, gosh, that was a close call. They were so convincing he’d got a little confused there for a moment.
Elvis and his sidekick didn’t want a t-shirt telling them they were crazy – because clearly, they weren’t – but they suggested that the viceroy try the guy next door, who had some very strange ideas about the Palestinians being real partners for peace.
Sadly that guy was out flying kites over the Gaza fence, so the viceroy left a t-shirt in his mailbox, and continued on to the next house. There, the door was opened by a professorial looking gentleman in tan chinos and a tasteful, blue-tinted shirt. “Can I help you?” the professor replied.
The viceroy swallowed. Wow, this guy was so polite and ‘normal’ it was actually freaky. He explained about his mission, while the professor continued to listen intently, occasionally nodding. When the viceroy finished his tale, the professor invited the viceroy in, to discuss what they could actually do to spread more awareness of this problem.
Again, the viceroy swallowed nervously. This guy was acting so nice, it was really weird. “Do you mind if I ask Rita to join us?” the professor asked. The viceroy was meant to be guarding his eyes, but these sort of challenges unfortunately came with the job of trying to do hafetza. “Sure,” he muttered, “why not?”
As it turned out, the viceroy had nothing to worry about. “Rita” was a bearded, strapping 6ft 2, built like the proverbial brick house, who had a thing for twinsets and high heels. The viceroy’s eyes nearly fell out of his head. “Rita, this gentleman has just shared some very disturbing information with me, about the state of the nation’s mental health, and I’d appreciate your input.”
“I just knew something was up!” Rita responded warmly. “Last week, I saw someone walking down the street wearing a bright orange top with grey slacks! If that’s not a sign of global insanity, I don’t know what is!”
The viceroy fumbled for his hankie again. It had suddenly got pretty hot in the professor’s cosy kitchen. Suddenly, his phone rang: it was the king. “It’s the boss,” he mouthed to his hosts, “I have to take it, sorry!” The viceroy took the call outside, and the king kept is short and to the point.
“Don’t forget, everyone is crazy!” he reminded his loyal servant. “Give them a t-shirt and get the heck out of there. I’m having a lucid moment, and I’m starting to think it was a really bad idea to send you out on this mission.”
So the viceroy made his excuses, and left.
On the way home, because he was a little bit crazy himself, he decided to try one last time. He lifted his hand to knock on a door, when it suddenly opened by itself, and he found himself face-to-face with an obviously observant Jew.
“I know why you’re here,” the Jew observed drily. “And I know what you want.” Because the viceroy was crazy, he believed him. “How do you know?” he asked the Jew incredulously. The Jew took a step towards him and told him in a conspiratorial whisper: “My sofa told me! My sofa is one of the hidden lamed vav Tzaddikim, and whatever the sofa predicts, it always comes true!”
Wow, this was amazing. Talk about saving the best to last. “Can I speak to the sofa too?” The viceroy asked in awe. “Sure,” replied the Jew. “But please take your shoes off first.” The shoe-less viceroy shuffled into the salon, overcome by the huge honor he was being shown. “Ask the sofa anything you want!” the Jew prompted him, so pleased to have gained another convert to the cause.
“Honored sofa, what can I do to hasten the cause of good in the world, and to bring peace to all men?” The sofa answered: “Stop spending so much time reading all those horrible, slanderous stories online about the true Tzaddikim.”
The viceroy had been bending over reverentially, to hear the sofa’s answer, but at this he immediately snapped up straight and shook his head. “I may be crazy,” he told the Jew, “but that’s still the most insane thing I’ve heard all year.”
And with that, he left a t-shirt in the simple Jews hands, and headed back to the palace.