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THE WEAK EGO

    Once a weak ego signed up for the trial offer of a home gym.
    The decision hadn’t been taken lightly. There’d been months of lip-chewing on the ego’s part about whether to accept the “once-in-a-lifetime offer” and just as much lip-chewing about forgoing this opportunity to join the glowing, confident egos that flexed and struck poses in the advertisement for the patented all-in-one workout center.
    It was tempting to see oneself as the “real ego” the ad claimed one could become in just minutes a day. No more hesitations. No fears of inadequacy when compared with other egos. Yet what if a few minutes a day wasn’t enough? Suppose you strode out to display yourself in your new glory only to encounter a more muscled-up ego than you. In egos, size didn’t merely matter. It was all that mattered.
    What finally convinced this weak ego to set aside its doubts and give the home gym a try was the “home” part of it. The prospect of being able to bulk up in private had definite appeal. So too did checking out your progress in your own private mirror, free of a crowd of perfectly sculpted rivals smirking over your shoulder like disdainful gods.
    Studying the all-in-one personal gym once it was out of its box, the weak ego had to admit the thing was impressive. With all its weights and pulleys and flanges and spines, the machine had the appearance of a huge insect, something in the mantis family perhaps. This thought, strangely enough, comforted the weak ego, for if the apparatus looked fearsomely alive, ready to rear up and unleash a power as lethal as it was quick, mightn’t the time spent molding oneself to its embrace instill that force to be reckoned with in oneself as well?
    And with the force so clearly defined in every inch of one’s being, who’d so much as dare curl a scornful lip or snicker in passing? The world would be there for the taking, practically laying itself at one’s feet like starry-eyed screamers at the finals of the Ego Universe Invitational. Oiled up, slicked down, shoulders wide and standing tall, a Colossus among pipsqueaks, a new Atlas grinning as if the heavens were light as a beach ball, the ego’s superior poses would be obvious to every eye, the envy of all who found themselves dazzled by the confidence it had gained in just minutes a day!
    Yet what if one voice in that chorus of admiration was actually praising the machine instead of what it had produced? The smallest of the small might undo the most pumped up of egos in that event, suggesting that without the mechanical aid it would be as feeble as ever. Unable even to open the door on its own and step out to face the world beyond.
    To avoid the distressing possibility of such a defeat, should the weak ego pack up the private gym and return it before the deadline, then? Ah, but the thing was such a marvelous device. So well-built and with an ironclad guarantee, to boot. Just a turn or two on it first wouldn’t do any harm, would it?
    Or maybe three or four?