Deep in the Well of Savage Salvation

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Empire Taxes

Empire Taxes
I am your Emperor and you will pay me the Taxes you owe

Empire Taxes

Empire Taxes
I am your Emperor. You must support the Realm!

"Chronicle Groupie"
Hyperion June 18, 2007

So this is what happened:

I was talking to Kaida about an upcoming anniversary gift that was to arrive in the mail. I had to send the gift quite early to ensure it got there on time, and knowing her penchant, I felt the need to instruct her in the strongest terms that she was not to open the package until the actual day. Nor was she to "shake" the package, attempt to read the shipping manifest or even look at the upper left corner of the box in attempts to glean the contents therein.

Of course Kaida gets all bent out of shape over my edict, protesting there was no need for such harsh strictures. I begged to differ. I'm not judging (well, I am, but just not right now), but the fact is that Kaida belongs in that group of people who absolutely cannot stand a secret, such as a gift. It almost drives them crazy not knowing what's inside and they feel almost compelled to open it.

I don't have this. Maybe that's why I'm judgmental. I love the Delay of Gratification, and enjoy the savoring of a present almost as much as the actual opening. I like looking at a wrapped gift or an unopened box in the mail and imaging what it might be. I like making Christmas last as long as possible, and if I had my way would not begin to open presents until Christmas night.

But that's me and I acknowledge not everyone is like that.

However, for reasons I can't get into yet there are other compelling reasons to make sure that gift is not opened until the proper day. And even if there were not, I feel very strongly that gifts must need wait until the appointed time, else why celebrate the day at all?

Anyway, after a good bit of back-and-forth on this subject with Kaida I half-jokingly threatened to send her birthday gift two months early, forcing her to keep the package on the kitchen table and look at it, but not allowed to open it, if only to teach her some gift-discipline. Kaida responded (not at all joking) that were I to do that she would open the present out of spite.

(I tell you the truth, the two of us cannot have a single serious discussion without it devolving into one of the two parties threatening to do something completely rash, such as murdering every child with the middle name of "Ruttiger" or sleeping with many Romanian whores, all in the name of spite. Of course, it may not be "us," but anyone who deals with "me." Once I was arguing with my sister on the phone, who was upset that I did not give her a seven digit number for the new home phone but instead gave her a word (I totally love coming up with words for phone numbers, as they are much more fun to memorize) She threatened to never call the home phone again just out of spite. When confronted she maintained it was the principle, and we decided to combine the two words and call it "The S'principle!")

To my mind, this was Kaida's intent. She would open the gift for the S'principle of the thing. And while I appreciate the dissemination of my new word, I cannot disagree more strongly. The entire reason the threat was made, I explained, was to teach her a lesson in waiting on good things. Kaida responded that I was a jackass of high rank. (One assumes a Colonel, or at least a Major.) According to her I was sending the gift early in the first place because of "the S'principle," and any retaliatory measure she employed was more than justified.

The outrage! The indignity! The hoisting of petards! Here I am, clearly on the side of angels, trying to get a gift there on time, because of which it might come early, and compelled to place injunctions against early opening ONLY BECAUSE I KNOW SUCH WEAKNESS IS IN HER CHARACTER, and she turns it around on me like it's my problem!

Look, I have many problems too, and if you balanced the two of us together in the aggregate it would be a completely different picture. (I'd be at most a 40% more moral and better person than she. Well, let's say 43%.) But in this particular case I feel like I am completely in the right. Gifts should not be opened until the appointed day, and that I have to warn against this proves my case. And if—to teach a valuable lesson—I sent the next gift very early, I would be justified in doing so. And if—purely for the S'principle—Kaida was to open that gift early, she would earn enmity from the gods so severe that National Guard would be required to evacuate all residents within a 4 mile radius of her house in anticipation of the coming lightning barrage.

Kaida disagrees. She says I'm in the wrong for not trusting her. Moreover, she thinks it only human to want to open gifts as soon as possible, and those who counsel waiting and savoring to be inhuman monsters worthy of scorn and Brussels sprout-sized hemorrhoids.

So we agreed to ask you, the Hyperion Nation. Who is right? Am I right that waiting is more virtuous, or is she right to just rip open the package like a child (and not a well-behaved one at that)? And would I be justified in "teaching her a lesson," or would she be correct to ruin her birthday by opening said lesson early?

We await your judgment. (Unless of course you side with her in which case I will declare you all idiots and hold back my next Hyperion After Dark story, if only for the S'principle.)


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