That Pharaoh is a Mean Guy

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Long ago in ancient Egypt lived a pharaoh named Khufu.  He was kind of a mean guy.

He was very sarcastic and liked to give people nicknames based on their most painful insecurities. For example, his second or third wife (the pharaoh had never been good at math) Henutsen had a very large mole just below her right eye of which she was self-conscious.  Pharoah called her “Moley-Face” or “Wife with Ginormous Mole” and this rather hurt her feelings.

One morning, he yelled: “WHERE IS THAT HEMIUNU?!  I DEMAND THAT HE BROUGHT TO ME IMMEDIATELY!”

(The pharaoh actually yelled in capital letters much larger than that.  But if I were to increase the words to the appropriate size, you’d need to stand a least a mile away from page or screen to be able to see them whole.)

Hemiunu, Vizier of Egypt, chief architect, priest, prince, count and blood relation to the pharaoh, was duly brought before the throne.  With him was a slight yet pretty girl in a simple linen dress.  Her name was Neferu and she was exceptionally nervous, her already large eyes wide in fear and awe.

“WELL THEN.  WHEN’S THIS GREAT PYRAMID OF MINE GOING TO BE FINALLY FINISHED?!”

Hemiunu, who’d been lying prostrate as custom required, lifted his head a little.

“O Majestic Son of Ra!  I am so happy to be able to say that the pyramid is at last complete.  If Your Majesty so wishes, he may see it this very day.”

“FINALLY!”

“A thousand apologies, Your Majesty.  Hopefully, Your Majesty will be so pleased with the finished product that He will forgive the delay.”

While the pharaoh gave orders that the royal barge and its accompanying flotilla be made ready, Neferu secretly fumed.  She’d seen the pyramid and knew full well what a miracle it was that such a large and complex structure had been built in only 21 years.  She was fiercely proud of her father Hemiunu and did not care for the pharaoh’s attitude at all.

He was ruining “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day” and she hated him for it.

The palace was only about 20 km south of the Giza plateau on which the Great Pyramid, gleaming white like the otherworldly thing it was meant to be, stood.  It was not long before the pyramid came into view.

Neferu had never seen it from this particular angle and was astonished.  25,000 men had worked hard to make her father’s ingenious plan a reality.  New techniques had been invented to construct it.  It was by far the world’s tallest building and Neferu foresaw that it would remain so for thousands of years.  It was made of over 2.5 million limestone and granite blocks.  Even more amazing was the fact that the workers had had only copper chisels and spherical blobs of dolerite to cut all that rock from the earth.

All those of lesser civilizations would scratch their heads and wonder how on earth it had been built.  They’d credit the gods directly or perhaps even beings from worlds not yet known.  Her father was a genius and she loved him very much.

Pharaoh Khufu took one look and sneered.

“Ick.  I hate it.  Start again.”

Neferu’s jaw dropped open and she glanced at her father.  Hemiunu had slumped forward and seemed on the verge of losing his balance altogether.  His hand gripped his chest.

Neferu lost it.  She walked right up to the pharaoh, pointed an accusing finger and said, “You, sir, are nothing more than a big, mean jerk.”

There was a large, collective gasp.  Everyone looked over at the pharaoh but did their best to make it look like they weren’t looking.  What they saw amazed them.

Pharaoh was crying.  Tears streamed from his black kohl-lined eyes, causing the pigment to run.  His lower lip wobbled.  A nearby attendant offered him a hankie.  The pharaoh blew his nose and at last managed to say, “Do you really mean that?”

Neferu folded her arms over her chest and nodded emphatically.  “Yes, I do.  That pyramid is the most amazing thing any group of people has ever built and if you can’t appreciate it, you’re the biggest moron to ever walk the face of the earth.”

The pharaoh began to sob.  “Stop!  That’s so harsh!  No one has ever said those kind of things to me.  Never!”

Neferu was unrelenting. “Well now, I guess you’ve finally learned what it feels like to have your feelings hurt.”

“It feels awful!” blurted the pharaoh.

“Maybe now you’ll stop doing it?”

Pharoah Khufu nodded.  “Yes, you’re right.  I will stop saying mean things, especially to my wives.  I don’t know how they put up with me, really.  I just never knew that words hurt this much.  And you’re right about the pyramid.  It is lovely, really lovely.”

The pharaoh turned toward Hemiunu.  “Thanks, old friend.  I never was any good at accepting loving gestures.  That daughter of yours really is something else.”

Hemiunu beamed.  “Isn’t she though?”

The pharaoh turned back to Neferu.  He approached and laid both of his hand on her shoulders.  “I have learned an extremely valuable lesson today.  Thank you so much.  The new me is very grateful.  The old me would have fed you to the crocodiles.”

Neferu shrugged.  “Beats being one of your wives.”

They all laughed most heartily.

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