WILSON: The value of free advice
While traveling to the village of Garylarson, at the far side of a seemingly endless forest, a wizard (known as Rick) and a demigod (known as LoDi) saw a road sign proclaiming “Free Information and Advice — Not Too Far Ahead,” The two travelers looked at each other and both wondered aloud, “What is this all about?”
The forest trail meandered around massive old-growth trees that obscured their view of what awaited them. The journey had been long and both sojourners silently hoped that the upcoming location had a clean restroom. Within a reasonable amount of time (but unreasonable for someone anxiously in search of indoor plumbing), the pair came upon a small tent with a massive blinking neon sign proclaiming, “Free Information and Advice — 5 Gilders Each.” Outside the tent, positioned behind a small card table, sat the world’s largest dwarf. In spite of his unimaginable size, the two knew he was a dwarf because a hand-written sign taped to the front of the card table proclaimed, “The Dwarf is In.”
“Excuse me, good sir,” LoDi began, “May we use your restroom?”
“My name is Lucien Van Furskin, professional advisor to the stars. Our restroom is for paying customers only,” answered the dwarf.
“How can you charge for free advice?” asked the wizard, somewhat incredulously. “Doesn’t free mean ‘No Charge?’”
“All advice is free if one is willing to go out in search of it — and free advice is worth every gilder paid. However, since I am the one that has gone to all the trouble of gathering it, I charge a small packaging fee of only 5 gilders each — or three for 17.50. How many would you like?”
“Do you charge extra for toilet paper, too?” scoffed Rick as he searched fervently for the Men’s Room sign. “I am not carrying gilders. It isn’t the currency of my homeland.”
“There is an ATM, just inside the tent,” replied the dwarf with a toothless grin. “However, there is an exchange rate charge of 3.57 percent.”
After the pair visited the ATM, followed by a hasty inspection of the aforementioned plumbing facilities, LoDi found himself powerfully thirsty and asked for a drink of water.
“Water is only 18 gilders per bottle,” explained the entrepreneurial dwarf. “Two bottles for 37.50.”
“That is outrageous!” argued Rick. “You charge more for water than most places charge for gasoline!”
“You are welcome to drink gasoline,” offered the dwarf. “Choose wisely. Cost does not always equal value.”
“Give us our advice, then,” Growled the demigod. “And it had better be good.”
“A sharp tool can make quick work of any project,” Lucien began. “Or it can quickly remove several fingers. It just depends on the hands using the tool.”
“That is worthwhile information,” the wizard agreed, albeit reluctantly. “What else do you have?”
“Sandpaper is cheap. For woodwork smoother than a baby’s bottom, change it like it was that baby’s diaper — as quickly as needed.”
“And the third piece of advice?” asked LoDi. In their haste to enjoy the pleasures of flush toilets, the two wayfarers failed to properly calculate the purchase value of the three-pack.
“Have either of you ever been married?” asked the dwarf with a mischievous grin.
Surprised by the question, the wizard and the demigod emphatically shook their heads. “Heck no!” came their hasty reply (in two-part harmony).
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” smirked the sagacious dwarf. “A man will gladly complete a ‘honey-do’ list for the promise of making love — or making his wife quit nagging. Either one will bring him pleasure.”
“Isn’t that a bit sexist?” argued Rick.
“Remember,” countered Lucien, “Just like elections, marriage proposals have consequences.”
“I’ve had enough of this,” growled LoDi. “How do we get out of here?”
“Please exit through the souvenir shop.”
Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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