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I once got paid to spend the summer telling lies to little kids. I ran a mountain man program at a district Boy Scout camp. I told my guests I was born in my log cabin and I traded for everything I had. Late evenings I shot muzzleloader rifles with campers and then told ghost stories around the fire. Oh, how I wish that would pay enough to be my career instead of just a one-time summer job.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mad Mike's Carpet Emporium

The following tale was inspired by a craigslist ad skewered by the fine folks over at YSaC. The ad included the following text:

Real Perishing Rugs – $5500

Handmade Real silk Perishing rug

"Perishing" caused my imagination to get away from me.

    Welcome to Mad Mike’s Carpet Emporium, where we have everything you need to turn your cold, sterile floor into a warm, beautiful, inviting floor. At MMCE, we have everything from astroturf (for you baseball fans who want to turn your home into an homage to your favorite team – bachelors or want-to-be bachelors only) to the most beautiful and elegant Persian rugs. You can offset a beautiful ceramic tile with these luxurious silk, hand-woven conversation pieces. You’ll want all of your friends to leave their shoes at the door and wash their feet before entering any room adorned with these pieces of elegance.

    For a short time, we even have area rugs that speak to the absolute height of luxury and opulence. The rarest of carpets, the most sought-after Perishing rug. This beautiful piece is made from silk spun by the endangered suicide moth. This silk vanishes over time. No two suicide moths spin silk that vanishes at the same rate. These insects are endangered because the unlucky moths die during metamorphosis when their cocoons vanish and they drop to their deaths. Chinese monks have discovered a subspecies of the suicide moth, termed the Russian Roulette moth by people antipathetic to this type of silk. Silk spun by the RR moth lasts the longest of any of the suicide moth subspecies, so the Chinese monks raise these moths in a small, isolated monastery.

    Perishing RR silk rugs are quite rare and very valuable for a second reason in addition to the shelf life of the silk. These beautiful pieces are spun by expert weavers in what is considered China’s most deadly job. When a monk learns his craftwork, he spends years weaving with cheap, every-day silk. He must develop both incredibly artistic skill and the ability to weave flawlessly at lightning-fast speed. After 20 years of practicing with common silk, a monk begins work with the Russian Roulette silk. If the rug begins to vanish before he is finished, he must begin again. As you may understand, the level of stress produced by both the demand for such speed and the perfection required shortens the lives of these monks, but the biggest problem is the suicide rate. Monks who fail to complete more than one rug per week sometimes snap under the pressure and kill themselves. The production of these carpets is as much in danger from the rarity of RR moths as the high turnover rate of monks.

    Fortunately, a very short-lived war termed The Silk War ended any demand for clothes made out of this material. The Silk War began when the emperor of a small, central European country commissioned the finest robes be made from RR silk. When his royal procession began, he wore the most opulent clothing the subjects had ever seen. As he proudly walked through his capital village, the silk rapidly perished, leaving him more than a little embarrassed and completely nude. In his anger he ordered the invasion of his weavers’ home country. Swift military conflict broke out, but was quashed by the defenders when the invading invantry, wearing uniforms made of RR silk, found themselves mid-combat with their anatomy flapping in the breeze.

    If you decide to buy one of these Perishing RR rugs, consider blacking out the windows in the room where you display the carpet. Natural light seems to accelerate the vanishing of the silk. Ensuring that no natural light ever falls on your rug is an investment in the longevity of the piece, but just to be safe, consider keeping the room pitch-black and sealed unless very special company appears.

    Finally, MMCE requires all purchasers of these Perishing RR rugs to sign waivers stating they are aware of the transient nature of their purchases and they will not hold Mad Mike, employees of MMCE, or ACME*, the corporation of whom MMCE is a subsidiary and proud publishers of the ACME product catalog of guaranteed-to-work products, at fault should they be embarrassed by the absence of these beautiful pieces when stars, foreign dignitaries, elected politicians, political candidates, family matriarchs or patriarchs, 3rd-grade teachers, proctologists, urologists, scientologists, astronomers, astrologers, vacuum-cleaner salesmen, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jehovah Himself, or any other guest is seen into the room only to find scraps of partially-vanished silk and dust bunnies.

    *Fine print: The ACME Corporation stands by its products despite the several lawsuits by one individual, identified only as W.E. Coyote (no address given, residing somewhere in the American Southwest), in which the plaintiff claims to have received faulty merchandise. The ACME Corporation maintains Mr. Coyote used the purchased products in an unsafe manner or in a manner not consistent with the product's intended purchase. The lawsuits remain unsettled, as no judge is willing to hear a case when it is shown that Mr. Coyote continues to use ACME products despite a nearly-endless list of injuries and another nearly-endless list of damages to the local scenery caused by Mr. Coyote while using ACME products.

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