Once upon a time there was a lovely princess. She was not the most beautiful, but she didn’t go around breaking any mirrors. She was not the smartest, but she might be the smartest you met on any given day. She was not the most athletic, but she had learned not to trip over her own feet (most of the time, anyway). And she like pretty shoes.
One day the princess was out walking (very far away from civilization) and stepped (accidentally) into a bit of swampy quick sand (don’t ask—this is a story—just go with it). The princess (and her pretty shoes) got very stuck in the swampy quick sand.
The first thing the princess did was to look around for a convenient way out of the swampy quick sand. There wasn’t one.
Then the princess shared some Very Interesting Words with any creatures close enough to hear. There weren’t any.
Then the princess got down to Thinking about how to get out of the SQS.
Fortunately, the princess had her cell phone with her. And one of her friends sent an Acquaintance to help the princess.
The Acquaintance was very nice to the princess. She made all the right sounds of distress at the mess the princess was in. She offered to help the princess. She even offered to help the princess clean her pretty shoes.
The princess was very grateful for the help since she did not like being stuck in swampy quick sand (and neither did her pretty shoes). The princess was So Grateful, she did not stop to consider that in stories like this the Acquaintance is usually not Glenda the Good Witch.
The Acquaintance helped the princess out of the SQS and invited her back to her home. Once the princess was inside the Acquaintance’s home, she (the princess) began to have a sense that something was Not Quite Right. The Acquaintance yelled at everyone. She turned her servants into trained monkeys. She fought with everyone in her family. She even yelled at the princess which seemed to the princess to be Very Bad Manners and mean spirited.
The princess was trapped. Soon she realized this was just another form of swampy quick sand, and she began Thinking about ways to escape.
Many days went by. The princess became more and more unhappy—both for herself and for those around her.
Many, many more days went by. The Acquaintance began to act more and more like a lunatic. One day she told the princess to leave. The princess packed her things—but just as she was about to leave the Acquaintance locked the door and wouldn’t let her go. After that, the Acquaintance kept threatening to make the princess leave, but mostly the Acquaintance just made the princess more and more unhappy.
One day, in a fit of complete insanity, the Acquaintance decided to punish the princess. “You must leave my house,” she told the princess. “I will not give you any more food, or drink, or even pretty shoes. See how you like that!”
And she made the princess leave.
The princess was sad because she liked regular meals and pretty shoes. And she was sad because she knew she’d been a good houseguest. But she was also happy, because she finally had the chance to leave the Acquaintance’s house.
And she (and her pretty shoes) discovered they weren’t nearly as far from civilization as she’d thought.
The Acquaintance went on to make those around her miserable. The friend sent the princess a pair of shoes and an invitation to dinner. And the princess (and her shoes) went on to many more wonderful and happy adventures.
P.S. If you think this is an allegory, you are most correct.
al·le·go·ry noun a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another.