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Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With . . .

You know, my wife is a wonderful person. She is kind, talented and beautiful. Best of all, she walks around at parties with a full tequila bottle in her hand when other women are playing with their dainty little Manhattan glasses. (The last time this happened, some college boy she didn't know walked up to her and said, "You're so THUG!"

She is so nice, in fact, that at times I wonder if she isn't too nice for me. For example, last night we were talking about my writing and she said, "I can hardly wait to read your new stories. I really don't like your journal entries. You're so mean in them."

Well, let it never be said that I don't care about the concerns of my wife, so today I've decided to write a nice column. One about butterflies and birthdays, and maybe even a unicorn or two . . .

Once upon a time, there was a herd of horsies who lived on the outskirts of a magickal forest. They lived on the outside because they could not enter, being mere horses. They knew this because the Unicorn told them.

The unicorn told them many things. He told them how only Unicorns could enter the magickal forest. He told them how if they were good, and behaved as he said the Great Unicorn said they should behave, that they would one day grow their own horn and be allowed into the magickal forest.

Now every stallion and mare wanted to get into the magickal forest, of course. Why wouldn't they? It was supposedly a land of honeyed waters and sugar-cube trees and not one single fly to be found. So everything was good in the land of the horsies.

Until one day, a butterfly happened upon the scene and befriended a little filly named Birthday. She was named Birthday because she was the happiest little filly anyone knew, and Birthday was the happiest word anyone knew, and they seemed to go together like cake and well, birthdays! Birthday wanted nothing more than to go into the Magickal forest and meet the Great Unicorn. One day as her friend the butterfly--named flutter, oddly enough--sat on the tip of her nose, Birthday said, "I wish I knew what the Magickal Forest looked like. I so want to see the Great Unicorn. They say you can't even look at him, he's so beautiful."

Flutter got very excited. "I know," Flutter said. "I can fly into the forest and then come back out and tell you what it's like. After all, I can fly. I must be magickal!"

"And you could ride on my back to the edge of the Magickal Forest," Birthday said, "so you don't tire out your wings and you can see more!"

So the two of them went to the edge of the Magickal Forest, where Flutter flew into the trees, disappearing from Birthday's sight. About three hours later, Flutter appeared from the forest and landed once again on the tip of Birthday's nose.

"So tell me," Birthday said, barely containing her excitement.

"It was terrible. Everyone was arguing about who was more magickal than whom, saying that their powers made them closer to the Great Unicorn than someone elses magickal powers. Some didn't even believe in the Great Unicorn. They wanted to see the Great Dryad, or the Great Ent, or the Great Faery. Nobody seemed to know what the truth was. And they were all killing each other. I never want to go there again!"

Well, needless to say, the news made Birthday sad. She walked back to where she last saw the herd, but they were no where to be found. She searched and searched, and when she finally found them, she gasped.

They were all dead. Around their bodies were used paper Kool-Aid cups and they all wore new Nike tennis shoes on their hooves.

With no reason to stay there, Birthday and Flutter went off into the world, where they had much happier days as a smarter and wiser Filly and Butterfly.

Now, wasn't that a nice story?

Joseph Haines, signing off, while smirking greatly, from the Edge of The Abyss.

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