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I Miss the '80s! Melodramatic Metaphors Version

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Two tiny girls, Amy and Irie, played in the sandbox all the time, sharing scraped knees and getting into the kind of tussles you'd expect from little, innocent children, their bright, shining eyes hiding not the sniffiest whiff of mischief.

Until, that is, Amy decided to name herself Emperor of the Sandbox. Irie complained that the Amy lived far away, and in fact Irie's family had owned the sandbox for more than two generations.

"But you're not free," explained Amy, "and when I'm the Emperor of the Sandbox, you will be."

"Free how, exactly?" asked Irie, still more or less innocent and shiny-eyed.

Amy scrunched up her little face and stuck out her tongue to think. Eventually, she said, "I think free means I don't have to pay you."

"Like slaves?" asked Irie.

"Yeah!" exclaimed Amy, excited now. "Like when Pharaoh had the Jews help him build the Golden Gate Bridge and they didn't ask for any money."

"Doesn't sound like any Jews I know," said Irie, chuckling a little in an innocent, absolutely non-anti-Semitic way. "And seventy-something percent of me thinks you should leave my sandbox right now, you Pharaoh wannabe!"

Amy frowned. "That's not very nice," she said. "I think I'll have to assert my right to control your sandbox. I'm calling The Amy Army!"

As her friend Irie looked on, Amy dug a cell phone out of her jumper and pressed a bunch of buttons. Before anyone would have had a chance to answer, because, you see, she was just pretending, Amy shouted, "Send in The Amy Army right now! Make Irie give me that sandbox!"

Irie was puzzled but unmoved. "It's still my sandbox!" she shouted.

So the little girls squabbled for a few minutes, eventually deciding to quit the sandbox and play dolls.

But there's more to the story...

Amy's cell phone had made a connection, you see. With the secret, impossible-to-guess Pentagon "Attack on Any Murky Command" line.

"Sir!" shouted a Marine to one of the generals. "We have intercepted a murky command!"

The general, whose name was General Imperial-Ruthlessness, read the transcript of the communiqué. "It's code!" he exclaimed excitedly, his words nearly drowned in saliva. "It means the American Army needs to attack Iraq!"

"Why, sir?" asked the young Marine, his eyes shining almost as innocently as the little girls'.

"They apparently won't give up the oil," said General Imperial-Ruthlessness. "Or the land... or something else you might call 'sandbox' in a code. Attack!"

So tens of thousands of soldiers attacked Iraq, dropping many civilian-seeking bombs and electro-shocking genitals willy-nilly. And after the whole country was not so much "in flames" as "uninhabitable," General Imperial-Ruthlessness was called to the White House to receive an award.

"For dedicated service protecting this nation from that one," said the president, trying to pin a medal on the general's frail chest.

"Protecting the... wuzza?" said General Imperial-Ruthlessness, his lips now trembling. "I thought we were just taking it over."

"Whatever gave you that idea?" asked the president, accidentally pinning his finger to the general's jacket and swearing like nobody's business.

"It was in the communiqué! It was code! 'Make Irie give me the sandbox,' you said."

"I did?" asked the president, wiping fruitlessly at the blood on his hands. "I don't remember anything like that."

"But if it wasn't you..." said the general. "Who made this terrible thing happen?"

A beautiful dove happened to pass into the general's field of vision then, and as his eyes followed it he saw the briefest glimpse of two little girls, playing in a sandbox far away. They were jointly electrocuting their dolls' genitals, having already set the flammable bits of the sandbox on fire.

A single tear fell from the general's eye onto a seed nestling on the ground. That tear caused a tree to sprout. That tree grew strong and tall until it was chopped down to make gun stocks for, not the next war, but the one three wars after that.

As the old general collapsed, his heart having finally withered away to dust, ninety-nine red balloons and one white balloon crossed the sky, where, moments later, they were gunned down by fighter jets, scattering balloon fragments for miles.

Think about it, won't we?