Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Living in the Modern World
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    Photo by Natalie Krebs / North by Northwestern

    One bright morning, in the middle of the forest, three bears sat down for breakfast. Mama Bear laid out three heaping bowls of organically grown soy germ. For some reason, she still called it porridge, whatever that is. I’m pretty sure no one has actually eaten porridge in several hundred years.

    Setting it down, she admonished Baby Bear. “Don’t forget what I’ve told you: If you eat cold porridge it’ll make your brain turn to mush. That’s what happened to those mad cows and pigs with the flu at the farm.”

    “Yes, Mama. I remember,” Baby Bear tiredly responded.

    “Well, then I wouldn’t eat this porridge,” chimed in Papa Bear. “My porridge is much too cold.”

    “But mine’s just right!” exclaimed Baby Bear.

    “Let’s pop these back in the solar powered hybrid oven and go for a walk,” said Papa Bear, ignoring his son.

    As Mama Bear slid the bowls back in the oven, Papa Bear started heading out the door. He called out to Baby Bear, “Can you fetch the newspaper for me, son?”

    “Yes, Papa.” Baby Bear went to the counter, picked up the iPad, and opened the latest New York Times. “Why don’t we have the real paper anymore?”

    “Remember what I keep telling you: Making the paper requires deforestation. And without trees, the carbon dioxide emissions will be so high that we’ll all suffocate. Oy vey!” exclaimed Mama Bear.

    As Mama Bear continued to explain how members of the Kingdom Plantae use photosynthesis to fix carbon taken in from the atmosphere into pyruvate—and Baby Bear successfully tuned her out—the Bear family left their house to take their morning stroll. Meanwhile, a teenage girl named Goldilocks was walking through the forest, coincidentally straight toward the Bears. She had absolutely no idea of the pickle she was about to find herself in because, like all teenagers, she had her head buried in her iPhone. She was furiously punching away at the touch screen keys, texting her friends. Well, at least Facebook told her they were her friends.

    Following Newton’s laws of motion, when Goldilocks ran into the Bears, specifically Mama Bear, the teen fell back, overcome by the stronger force. Peculiarly, or not, depending on your knowledge of how sucked into a phone a teen can become, Goldilocks did not even notice the disturbance in her path. She went right on texting without a break in the message.

    “The nerve of that brat!” exclaimed Mama Bear, quite angrily. “Doesn’t she know the dangers of texting while walking? Let alone the stress it puts on your joints!” Mama Bear was always the calm, reasonable one.

    “Don’t worry about her. Just enjoy the polluted, smog-filled air in our slowly dying forest habitat,” said Papa Bear.

    “I think she’s cute,” Baby Bear whispered to himself.

    And with that, the Bears scampered off into the forest. Generally bears don’t scamper—they preferred to leave that for the squirrels and lesser forest mammals—but the Bears, as I hope you remember, only ate organically grown, vegan victuals. This did not leave them healthier, only skinny and hungry, meaning they didn’t have the extra weight to lug around. Thus, the Bears scampered, leaving the lumbering for the uncultivated opossums.

    Goldilocks continued on in the general direction of straight ahead, leading her directly to the Bears’ front porch. Normally, Goldilocks would have continued on with her stroll. However, the exterior of the Bears’ house was made of glass, allowing them to warm their home without using an environment-destroying electric heater. It also gave a full view of the interior. Goldilocks’s gaze travelled from the three bowls of porridge in the oven, to the three chairs (the Bears did not like company) made of Forest Stewardship Council certified mahogany in the living room, and finally to the three beds on the south-facing side of the house (The Bear parents practiced celibacy, and Baby Bear was only an accident. No really, it was an accident. Papa Bear and Mama Bear were working in the…Maybe I should save this story for another time.). It was on the beds that her eyes rested, wishing the rest of her body would rest with them.

    Goldilocks warily approached the house, as quiet as a mouse. That’s a lie. No teenage girl can be silent for any length of time. Nevertheless, she came closer to the Bears’ humble abode. The leaves rustled. The wind whistled. Her fingers typed madly away. The birds meekly chirped. The ocean waves crashed (they weren’t anywhere near a body of water, but somewhere in the country, a wave hit the shore). The sun winked. Her chewing gum smacked.

    Finally, Goldilocks was at the home’s entrance. Quickly forgetting her previous stealth, she hastily opened the door and ran inside. Although the beds were her goal, she decided to logically proceed through the house, disturbing everything as much as possible. Logically.

    The porridge came first. She warily removed it from the oven, expecting it to be scalding. Contrarily, all three were ice cold, as was the oven. It turned out Mama Bear had forgotten to plug the oven back into the wall after their last walk. The Bears were very environmentally friendly and knew that plugged-in appliances, even solar powered hybrid ovens, still used electricity. She placed the bowls nicely on the table, where they had been sitting before Papa Bear rationally decided that the middle of breakfast was a perfect time for a forest frolic. Like a good American, Goldilocks decided to begin on the left side and work her way to the right. First up, Papa Bear’s porridge.

    “O! Ths porige iz so cld! Its almst like it wuz nvr cookd!” texted Goldilocks, conservatively saving characters so as to maximize the information conveyed in a single message.

    Suddenly, a strange thing happened to Goldilocks. Her mental hold started slipping, slipping, slipping. It would have slipped further, but it was not very strong to begin with. She instantly lost control of voluntary functions. As she slumped to the floor, she could feel memories leaking through the metaphorical orifices of her brain. Her life story flashed before her eyes. With each flash, another memory was gone. After a short strobe effect sequence, Goldilocks lay on the floor and drool trickled out of the corner of her still smirking mouth.

    She had eaten freezing porridge so her brain turned to mush.

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