House Ryokuro is home to many interesting people, whether they be pie-flinging superheroes, immortal Twinkies, or Russian spambots. Profiles in Hysteria is a new feature that will make you painfully aware of all of them. CARDBOARD VENDOR Everyone has heard the cries for “Hot, Damp Cardboard!” ring out through the Halls and the Battlegrounds. Just
House Ryokuro is home to many interesting people, whether they be pie-flinging superheroes, immortal Twinkies, or Russian spambots. Profiles in Hysteria is a new feature that will make you painfully aware of all of them.
Everyone has heard the cries for “Hot, Damp Cardboard!” ring out through the Halls and the Battlegrounds. Just thinking about it conjures an image of a warm summer’s day in the stands, watching the latest Battle with friends and loved ones, craving anything but a steaming lump of paper. But there he is, the Cardboard Vendor, in his red-and-white jacket and straw hat, over-enthusiastically hawking the worst ballpark snack of all time. How did he get started in this wildly unsuccessful venture?
Cardboard Vendor: “I’ve never had a lot. When my husband left me and took our kids, I had even less. Then my parents died, and…well…it was hard. They left the house to my brother, and the cars to my sister. All their money was tied up in various Kickstarters, so I didn’t get any of that. So I was going through their garage one day, looking for a hose I could duct-tape to my tailpipe…when I came across this huge box. It was incredibly hot, and unusually damp. It was filled with nothing but cardboard! Cardboard that never dried out or cooled off. This was my inheritance.”
It was incredibly hot, and unusually damp.
The man who would become the Cardboard Vendor was understandably confused by the odd properties of this newfound paper product. He shopped the substance around to several companies, but none saw any possible use. He next turned to the scientific community, which was initially intrigued, but eventually declared this discovery “the most boring phenomenon we’ve studied” in the American Journal of American Science of America.
Homeless, jobless, friendless, luckless, hopeless, and completely out of options that even the truly desperate would consider, the Cardboard Vendor stumbled on a truly depressing delusion.
Cardboard Vendor: “I was trudging along a highway, dragging my huge box of cardboard. I was seriously considering hurling myself in front of the next truck that drove by, but it was all hybrids and SmartCars. Then I hear this crowd cheering. I look over…and it’s a stadium! I see all those people in there, all happy and content, and then I see the vendors climbing up and down those stairs, selling $1 bags of cotton candy for $10…and I’m like…that’s it!”
Somehow equating overcharging for something people actually want with charging for something people don’t want, the Cardboard Vendor spent his last $10 on his trademark jacket and hat, then fashioned a tray out of a piece of regular, dry cardboard and the magnetic tape from an old Rodney Crowell cassette. He marched up to the stadium and politely asked to become a vendor, but was less-than-politely told that both he and his product sucked and were not welcome inside. It seemed like his last, worst hope was dashed, but then someone kidnapped him.
It seemed like his last, worst hope was dashed, but then someone kidnapped him.
Cardboard Vendor: “I collapsed behind the stadium. Just sank down to my knees. I thought, this is it. I’ll just let myself die here. I closed my eyes…and then I felt a bag go over my head. I didn’t even struggle. I was excited! No matter what happened, it had to be better than…that. I know they put me in a trunk. I remember being in the cargo hold of an airplane. And then I woke up here! On this incredible floating isle with trees and waterfalls and so many strange but friendly people! I was over the moon!”
His kidnapper, and especially their motives, remain one of the more puzzling and unfortunate mysteries surrounding the Cardboard Vendor, who never spoke to or saw the person responsible. The true nature of his cardboard is a smaller, yawn-inducing mystery that no one cares to solve, just like his real name. The optimism that the Cardboard Vendor exudes is…just bizarre.
Cardboard Vendor: “Things have been tough, and they’re still tough, but I feel like I caught a real break being dumped on House Ryokuro, and by God, I’m gonna make the best of it!”
After enduring the Cardboard Vendor’s chanting and calling for weeks, the Emperor issued an official statement on the matter:
“Just put up with him until we can find a buyer for his organs.”
And so this unlikely citizen of House Ryokuro endures, though hardly thrives. Perhaps the start of the Battlegrounds season will bring prosperity to the long-suffering Cardboard Vendor. Perhaps he’ll find the happiness and contentment he once saw in that crowd of people. And perhaps…actually, more than likely…a rich person will urgently need a new liver.