The Tall Tale Of Glendale's Magic First Aid Kit

GLENDALE, AZ: General view of Jobing.com Arena before Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Sometimes it's difficult to properly mitigate a risk. Ask the Coyotes and the city of Glendale.

The parable about the man named Glendale and crazy old Goldwater:

There was once a crazy old man who huddled under the statue of the town founder in the town square. He never harmed anyone, not really. He didn't hold the power to truly menace anyone; mostly, he stuck to his granite cover, reading obscure texts he borrowed from the library and muttering about the ills of the world.

He annoyed the snot out of everyone, though, with his radical theories and sharp tone. He was a surly man and he knew it. The townsfolk knew to steer cleer of the town founder's effigy to avoid losing fifteen minutes out of their valuable time, shooing off the crazy coot while remaining barely civil.

One day, a man who could only exist in a parable walked up to that statue with a can of gasoline, a box of kitchen matches, a magic wand, and a modest metal first aid kit. The crazy coot was nowhere about as he had stepped away for his weekly bathing ritual in the nearby fountain.

The man methodically set down the kit, the can, the wand, and the box in a row. He slowly spun the cap off the gasoline can, making each spin into an event. People walking near the square noticed the man and paused in their travels to gawk.

He removed the cap finally and set it dramatically on the ground. He then proceeded to sprinkle his clothes with gasoline, pausing to smile at the crowd now gathering. Without a word, he splashed his shoes, his hair, and all the bits in-between. Businessmen, women with strollers, children at play: they all circled the man with a mixture of bemused faces and shocked stares.

The man walked a few steps from his impromptu stage and set down the can next to the cap. He returned to center stage and retrieved his matches. With a flourish, he flipped open the box and selected a wooden match as if he were choosing his lobster for dinner. He closed the box with an identical snap of the wrist.

He dragged the match across the side of the box impossibly slow, somehow managing to light it regardless. The man held the burning match at eye level, admiring his handiwork. With one motion, he swung the box of matches deep into the crowd and leaned into the match with his gasoline-soaked forehead. A gasp emerged from the audience.

Minutes later, as the flames tapered into smoke, the clearly damaged man lying before the audience reached one shaking hand for the wand.  He involuntarily shook it over the nearby first aid kit and mumbled some type of magic word. The crowd leaned in all at once, desperate to see if he could save himself with a kit of such meager size. After an eternity of a moment and many fumbled attempts, the man managed to work the metal clasp and force the box open.

The man then lifted the box above his prone form, shaking and moaning slightly. Out poured tiny shards of green glass, broken and ground to their sharpest form. Without a word or even an exclamation, the man began to roll through the glass on and around him. Each revolution brought another set of muffled horror from the crowd.

Around this time, the crazy old man came back from his hygienic sabbatical with a half-dirty towel over his left shoulder, a shabby plastic bucket, and a nearly presentable look about him that would surely fade by nightfall. He saw the crowd from a distance and elbowed his way into the waves of people, sure that his books would be gone and he would have to pay late fees he certainly couldn't afford and he would never be able to borrow a book again...

... and that's when he saw the man near death mere feet from his home. Trapped in the crowd, he shouted into the silence, "That man needs help! He's hurting himself! Will no one help him?"

The crowd, startled by the sudden noise, turned to see the crazy old man waving and pointing. After a long beat, one of the crowd shouted, "Who are you to stop him? He knows what he's doing!" Another bellowed, "Back off! He has to apply magical first aid to himself!"

The crazy old man was incredulous. "Don't you see that's not first aid? That's broken glass! He's going to die! He needs a proper doctor and years of slow recovery to rebuild some semblance of a life, not magical broken glass. Will you not let me help him if none of you will?"

"Mind your own business, old man!" came a female voice from across the square. "You are not a true part of this community and this man wants to entertain us. Why do you want us to stop being entertained?"

"But he'll die! He's still smoking from the fire. I'll get water from the fountain to help him."

"Cease your intervention, crazy old man. You should not decide this man's fate with your dingy washing bucket; he will put himself out if he wishes."

The old man wept. "You call me crazy, but you are all insane. He is insane for immolating himself for short-term entertainment value and you are all insane for letting him, costing you all the cost of his hospitalization and perhaps his funeral. And what of his family? You are the insane ones!" With that, he marched off in no direction once so ever.

At nightfall, he returned to the now-empty square to retrieve his meager worldly belongings and trudged towards the town border. Perhaps he'd stay with his brother and sister-in-law at the Heritage Foundation for a few weeks until he could find a new town not quite so hell-bent on getting noticed.

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