A pleading letter from a palace servant, Liu, to King Huan, his ruler and king of the Zhou Dynasty, 700 B.C.
I know that I am simply a humble palace servant. There are thousands of us. But I feel I must break hierarchical standards and sneak you this letter. I am writing to warn you of our kingdom’s impending cultural doom. Please do not disregard this.
I have started to notice something odd in the town square. This morning, for example, I spotted a young man and a young woman walking toward each other in front of the fish market. As they were about to pass each other, they both looked up as if to make eye contact, but then quickly looked back down and continued walking, both appearing equally unhappy and defeated by the whole thing. I have seen these two in the square on previous occasions enjoying a friendly tea together and laughing as if they enjoyed each other’s presence. There is no clear inner motivation on either side for this sudden unfriendly behavior, other than the larger, societal shift that is creeping into our reality.
I fear we are at the precipice of a “hilariously wallow in our awkwardness” cultural implosion.
Among the fellow servants alone, of which there are roughly 5,400, there have been 24,000 collective cancelled coffee dates in the past week, for no reason other than someone on one end of the commitment being “swamped” and not “feeling up to it”.
But King Huan, this is just the beginning. We’ve experienced a frantic increase in the popularity of ironic “I’m Awkward!” silk robes. Nobody goes to work anymore. There has not been a wedding in the entire kingdom in four months. It is not as if everybody does not long for deep, loving relationships. However, the thought of human interaction paralyzes them at the village social gatherings, rendering them un-charming and off-putting to potential mates, thereby making them even more self-analytical and more prone to mistakes.
This cycle is not what helped our dynasty be the first to introduce iron and written script.
I am scared. Scared for our future. We have been known for our fortitude in times of crisis. I, Liu, a lowly servant and citizen of this kingdom, am pleading with you to put an end to this. No more plays in the square about dragons. We all know that they don’t really exist. Come on. It’s turning everyone into a bunch of nerds.
Instead of moving our dynasty forward to one day be the one to monopolize bronze production on the trading path, we are moving backward to becoming a people who just sleep in all day because they don’t feel like confronting uncomfortableness. Even worse, we joke about that uncomfortableness as if it’s a thing that’s okay. It’s not. There has not been a baby born here in over two years.
Please take these observations into consideration. We are posed to be the longest lasting dynasty in the history of Chinese civilization. If everybody is too busy waiting in line in the town square for Dragons & Magic 4: A New Sunrise, literally no weapons are being made or sex is being had in order to ensure the continuation of our proud people, and those slick brawny soldiers from the Gonghe Regency are sure to destroy us with all of their effortless conviction.
Liz Arcury is a comedian and writer attending college in Boston. Her work has been published on McSweeney’s, CollegeHumor, Weird Girls, and Thought Catalog. You can find more of her writing at lizarcury.wordpress.com and you can follow her on Twitter.
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