THE GINGERBREAD MAN
Once a gingerbread man became enamored of its own shape. The shape wasn’t a prepossessing one, admittedly, and it was claimed by many other gingerbread men as well, but neither of those considerations seemed a drawback. Quite the contrary, they reassured the gingerbread man. For if it and others were by all indications from the same mold, that must prove something about the inherent value of such a mold. What was of more concern to the gingerbread man, what was disturbing even, were encounters with gingerbread men that did not fit the mold for one reason or another. Their misshapened forms amounted to a galling parody of the gingerbread model. And what was even more disturbing than this was the fact that some of these figures didn’t appear to recognize their shortcomings or, if they did, either seemed indifferent or else took a kind of perverse pride in them. These aberrations were not just a question of appearance, of the correct contours and the correct degree of firmness, color, and glazing, but of substance as well. If you didn’t appear to measure up on the outside, how could you claim to measure up on the inside? A proper gingerbread man was a proper gingerbread man through and through. Furthermore, since it was unthinkable that any cookie maker would have allowed such defective gingerbread men to slip by, they themselves must be guilty of the fault. This disregard for standards must be a direct, misguided challenge to the very foundations of quality control. That being the case, the only course of action the gingerbread man could see was for those like itself, who clearly did meet all the standards, to take matters into their own hands. It shouldn’t be too difficult. They had themselves as a pattern to follow. And with a bit of resolve, cutting these imperfect figures into shape shouldn’t take long. They might be much smaller when the process was complete, some might be mere fractions of what they once were, but one thing was certain: They would all be better gingerbread men for it.
Copyright © 2003-2004, revised 2008, by Geoffrey Grosshans