“Mom, do I have to do this writing assignment???”

Unlike her crazy sister who is working toward 2 majors and a minor, Serena does NOT like school. She endures it. She is generally diligent about getting it done, but she doesn’t enjoy a lot of it. So this post is just to have a record of a time when her mean ogre teacher (that’s me, by the way) dug in her heels and insisted Serena complete a certain writing assignment. While studying the expansion of Islam during the middle ages, she was tasked with creating an “Arabian Nights” style tale. Here, for all to see, is the evidence that she sometimes has fun doing school. (The astute reader will find plenty of take-offs here from other tales!)

Note from Serena: “Unlike some crazy representatives in my family, I HATE grammar. I was, therefore, very dismayed when mom told me I had to write an Arabian nights tale. For reference, I read Andrew’s tale that he did when he was in high school. It was called, ‘Ali-Schwarzenegger and the Forty Democratic Nominees for Sheik of Calirabia.’ It was very witty and I decided to do one like it. Mine has eight spoofs in it, as well as some more vague spoofs. See if you can find them all. (Note: The whole story is a spoof of an Arabian nights tale, and there are some other spoofs you wouldn’t get unless you had read Andrew’s story).”

The Tale of The Three Sisters

Once upon a time there was a sister, her step-sister, and her step-sister’s step-sister. These three remotely-connected girls lived in the large city of Rockadom where the step-sister’s step-sister’s father had a large house. The girls did not get along very well because they where always bickering about who was the prettiest. The sister said it was she because she could sing like a nightingale. The step-sister said it was she because she was graceful. The step-sister’s step-sister said it was she because she had lovely long hair. The father, however, got sick of their bickering and told them to go to the Sacred Wishing Well and ask the Wisest Frog to tell them who was most beautiful.

So the sister, step-sister, and the step-sister’s step-sister set out to ask the the Wisest Frog by the Sacred Wishing Well to tell them who was most beautiful. After a long, hot journey, they finally came to the Sacred Wishing Well and found the Wisest Frog. Now this frog was not an ordinary frog. For one thing, he was the wisest frog in the whole world (obviously). And for another, he absolutely hated flies. So the Frog said, “What do you want, three sisters?”

And the sister said, “We have come from our father to ask you to tell us which one of us is most beautiful.”

The Frog considered this for a moment and asked, “which one do you think is the most beautiful?”

“Why me of course,” answered the sister.

“No you’re not, I am!” snapped the step-sister.

“Don’t delude yourself,” scoffed the step-sister’s step-sister. “I’m far more beautiful than either of you.” At once all three of them started bickering again.

They got louder and louder and angrier and angrier until the Frog shouted, “STOP!! I won’t tell you anything if you blow my eardrums out!” The sisters promptly stopped and looked ashamed for their bad conduct. “Now,” said the Frog, “ I’m not going to tell you anything unless you can pay me.”

“Pay you?” asked the sister.

“With what?” asked the step-sister.

“What would a frog do with money?” asked the step-sister’s step-sister.

“I didn’t say money,” said the Frog. “Do you know what I eat?”

“Flies?” said the sister.

“Beetles?” said the step-sister.

“Fish?” said the step-sister’s step-sister.

“No! I hate flies, and beetles, and fish,” said the Frog. “No, I eat ultra chewy caramel dark chocolate almond energy bars.”

“Ultra what?!” said the sister.

“Chewy? I thought frogs liked crunchy,” said the step-sister.

“Almonds, how do frogs eat almonds?” said the step-sister’s step-sister.

“I said I eat ultra chewy caramel dark chocolate almond energy bars, and ultra chewy caramel dark chocolate almond energy bars is what I eat,” said the Frog firmly. “But they’re hard to get out here, and I need some more. So, if you’ll get me another ultra chewy caramel dark chocolate almond energy bar, then I will tell you which one is most beautiful.”

“But where will we get an ultra chewy caramel dark chocolate almond energy bar?” asked the sister.

“How will we know what it looks like?” asked the step-sister.

“A what?” asked the step-sister’s step-sister.

“You can find an ultra chewy caramel dark chocolate almond energy bar in the Ancient Temple of Krogawoga.”

“Kroga what?!” said the sister.

“Where’s that?” asked the step-sister.

“Ancient temple?!” said the step-sister’s step-sister, “How did an ultra chewy caramel dark chocolate almond energy bar get in an ancient temple?”

“The god of chain suppliers put it there,” said the Frog. “But that’s not the point. I won’t answer your question till you get me my ultra chewy caramel dark chocolate almond energy bar. Go east for three days until you get to the Stretch of Pavement on which is a chimney sweep drawing chalk pictures. Find the one with an Egyptian temple on it, wink three times, double blink, and jump into the picture. You will find yourself standing outside the temple. You can find your own way after that.”

The three sisters looked doubtfully at each other, and the sister was just about to ask the Frog if he had a different way to get to the ancient temple of Krogawoga, but the Frog turned around and jumped into the Sacred Wishing Well with a plop. The sisters were a bit down-hearted at these strange instructions, but started out at once to find the Stretch of Pavement the Frog had spoken of. After three hard days of walking, they came to the Stretch of Pavement, and saw a very dirty man drawing on it with chalk. The Pavement stretched away into the distance, and they saw it had thousands of pictures on it.

The sister walked up to the dirty man and said, “Excuse me, but would you know where the picture with the Ancient Temple of Krogawoga on it is?”

The chimney sweep look at her like she was crazy. “Ancient temple o’ what?!”

“The Ancient Temple of Krogawoga,” said the sister.

“I think it’s Egyptian,” said the step-sister.

“You should know, you drew it didn’t you?” asked the step-sister’s step-sister.

“Well I don’t know no Ancient Temple of Krogawoga,” said the chimney sweep. “But I did draw one o’ an Egyptian lookin’ temple a while back. Some where around 6,859.” He pointed back at the Stretch of Pavement. The three sisters then saw that all the pictures were numbered.

“But we’re at 10,836!” said the sister.

“That’s long way back,” said the step-sister.

“It will take another day,” said the step-sister’s step-sister.

“Fiddle, it’ll only take an hour or so. But if you want t’ reach it ‘fore dark you’d better start walking.”

So the three sisters thanked the chimney sweep and started walking. It seemed to take forever, but at last they reached picture 6,859. It was indeed a picture of an Egyptian-looking Temple. The three sisters held hands, winked three times, double blinked, and then jumped. When they landed and opened their eyes, they were standing in front of a huge temple. They started toward the temple when a huge black jackal leaped up from the sand in front of them.

“Halt!” It shouted. “As the Ancient Guardian of the Ancient Temple of Krogawoga, I say you may not pass!”

“But we must pass,” said the sister.

“The Frog said so,” said the step-sister.

“If we don’t we’ll never know who’s most beautiful,” said the step-sister’s step-sister.

“Well tough,” said the Jackal. “You can’t pass and that’s that.”

The three sisters looked at each other in confusion. They walked a short distance away and debated over what they were going to do. They decided to wait until the Jackal went to sleep and then sneak past him. So they sat down and waited. Finally they got so bored that the sister decided to start singing to keep them entertained. But as soon as she started to sing, the Jackal’s eyelids started to droop, and in ten seconds he was asleep. She stopped singing in surprise, and immediately the Jackal’s head came back up and he glared at them. “Are you just going to sit there all night?” he snapped.

Then the sister came up with an idea. She started to sing again and immediately the Jackal went back to sleep. Still singing, the sister gestured to her sisters to follow her, and very carefully they walked around the Jackal and into the temple. As soon as they were well inside, the sister stopped singing. At once they heard the Jackal’s roar of anger. They ran down the passage, but didn’t hear him coming after them. The sisters continued down the passage and came to a huge chasm with a single rope hanging across it.

The step-sister said, “I can get across this,” and promptly walked across the rope.

The other two looked at each other and said, “We can’t do that, we’re not graceful like you are.”

“Don’t worry,” said the step-sister, “There’s a draw bridge on this side.” Then the step-sister lowered the draw bridge and the other two crossed the chasm. They went on until they found a dead end in the passage. The only way on was a large hole in the ground in front of it.

“How will we get down there?” they asked.

“I know!” said the step-sister’s step-sister, “I’ll cut off my hair and tie it to that post over there and we can climb down.” So the step-sister’s step-sister unbraided and unwound her hair (which took ten minutes it was so long), cut some of it off (though she still had hair down to her knees) and tied the end to the post. Then all three of them climbed down the hole.

At the bottom they found another large room where upon a platform was a large gold candy bar. They hurried toward it, but before they could get there a large jinn appeared before them.

“Halt!” said the Jinn. “As the most trusted servant of the god of Chain Suppliers, before you may take possession of the ultra chewy caramel dark chocolate almond energy bar you must answer this riddle. What has four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs at night?”
The three sister’s looked at each other in perplexity, and were silent for several minuets. Then the sister said, “Well, the four legs in the morning is a baby crawling.”

“I know!” said the step-sister, “the two legs in the afternoon must be a grown man walking on his two feet.”

“Then that means the three legs at night must be an old man with a cane,” said the step-sister’s step-sister.

“Correct,” said the Jinn. “The ultra chewy caramel dark chocolate almond energy bar is yours.” And he disappeared with a pop. The three sisters hugged each other with joy, climbed the platform and took the energy bar.

Then they climbed back up the step-sister’s step-sister’s hair, walked back across the chasm, out the temple (where the Jackal bid them a grumpy good by) back to the spot where they had come, out of the picture, back to where the chimney sweep was still drawing, and in another three days were back at the Sacred Wishing Well.

“O Frog,” called the sister.

“We have your energy bar,” said the step-sister.

“It’s heavy too,” said the step-sister’s step-sister, who was carrying it.

The Frog jumped back up on the bank. “Excellent. Now to answer your question. But first I want to ask you three what you learned on your little trip.”

“How to get past a Jackal guardian?” suggested the sister.

“How to get across a huge chasm?” said the step-sister.

“How to climb down a large hole?” asked the step-sister’s step-sister.

“No,” said the Frog, “I mean what you learned together.”

The sisters looked at each other. Then the sister said, “that it doesn’t really matter who is most beautiful or most talented. What really matters is that we love and help each other.”

“Exactly,” said the Frog. “Now, in answer to your first question, you are each just as beautiful as the other and no one could say anything more.”

The three sisters of course now agreed with him, and apologized to each other that they had been so pig-headed. They then went back home to their father and never argued about it again.

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