The Real Adventures of Flat Stanley

Stanley doing what Stanley liked to do most

About three months ago, a friend from the Old Country wrote me:

Hey, Kid B is doing this thing called Flat Stanley. Could you help out?

Me: Sure. What does it entail?

FFOC: You take him around to places of interests and you take some pictures. Then you write a little story and send that along some pictures about his “adventures.”

Me: Yeah, sure! Sounds interesting. (I’d been drinking a little) Send him along.

Stanley arrived two weeks later in an envelope. A letter stowed with Stanley informed me of his traumatic past. Stanley was crushed during a horrendous industrial accidental and has henceforth been known as Flat Stanley. I thought it cruel to openly mock a person for his physical impairments; I endeavored to be as hospitable as possible.

My hospitality for some weeks entailed keeping Stanley in his envelope on my bookshelf and periodically casting a guilty glance in his direction and saying: “Aw fucker. I gotta get to that.”

My procrastination was such that I was forced to face the music at one point and write a message to my friend (from the old country).

Me: Hey man, I’ve been busy. Do you mind if I keep Flat Stanley for a few more weeks?

FFOC: No rush and no problem! Take your time!

I breathed a sigh of relief and, like most people who have been granted amnesty after intense procrastination, I procrastinated some more.

Around Christmas I finally burst Flat Stanley out of his folded paper prison. He was noticeably (and disconcertingly) energized by this (think demon released from torturous prison after millennia of captivity in early stages of horror film, something like that…)

I brought Stanley (I forewent the rude adjective Flat) to the Christmas markets, to Plzeň, and to my school. I also rode around with him on public transport. To be fair, he demanded transport rides after his first exposure. After being trapped in an envelope, the novelty of wide open transportation through a medieval city was too much to miss out on. He found the history of the Czech Republic equally as fascinating and he greatly enjoyed exploring Both Prague and Plzeň’s Old Town.

Beer vats at Plzeň Brewery

Unfortunately, public transport and history didn’t excite him the way did the hedonism offered in the Czech Republic. We lost him three times on our tour of the Plzeň Brewery. One of those times we located him climbing out of a vat of beer. After this he was so tipsy that he ended up stowing away in a pillbox outside of the brewery. He holed up there and refused to come out until we promised to bring him to another bar.

It’s at this point that Stanley’s ugly flirtatious side became apparent. He hit on women openly and with no exception. He was small and flat, so he could slip into places he shouldn’t go (i.e. women’s bathrooms and beer vats). This, combined with his consistent intoxication made him rather unmanageable. At one point he convinced me to ask two H&K assault rifle-toting police officers if they’d mind taking a picture with him. Fortunately, I ushered us to the sanctuary of a nearby pub. I remembered my friend’s easygoing sentiment. No Rush! Take your time. Of course! Who wanted this monster back!?

Stanley’s infractions culminated when he grabbed the ass of a girl on the tram while we headed towards my house. Not only was the girl understandably upset, but her boyfriend was less than thrilled. This took an unfortunate turn as I tried to explain in a foreign language that my “small friend who is unexisting is also of paper, and he fell…to the floor. I apologize.”

Fortunately, Stanley caused a diversion by jamming the gears of the tram with his body, thus allowing me to leap from the tram when the driver opened the door to inspect the trouble (or maybe just smoke a cigarette). As the tram pulled off, the molested woman and her angry boyfriend mouthed cheerful Christmas epithets at me from the back window. When it was gone, I found Stanley, ground, mangled, his pants torn, his face dark with grease. Thus, I wondered if I’d gained insight into his previous disfiguring accident.

Intervention in Václavské náměstí

I picked him up, put him in my bag and carried him home. It was there that we sobered up. I fed him tea and carrots. He was initially resistant and demanded more alcohol and glue. (Nota bene: it seems that spending six to ten weeks inhaling the intoxicating fumes of envelope adhesive will cause quite the addiction.) I realized at this point that Stanley was not completely to blame for his behavior and that my procrastination had had some poor effect on him as well. We forgave each other and watched The Office and the entire Toy Story catalog.

Two days before Christmas, I sent Mangled Stanley back to his family in the old country. In accordance to his request, I wrote a G-rated letter and disclosed only our cultural adventures. He thanked me for saving him from a life of alcohol and chasing women. We shook hands. I fit a scuba mask of black cardboard over his face and stuffed him back into the envelope. Just before I sealed the letter and handed him over to a postal engineer, I slipped two chocolates in with him. One was cherry flavored and the other was cacao flavored, both were booze. It was the holidays; let him have one last party on his way back. If he abstains, my friend’s kids can have them.

Oh dear.

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