A few months ago I was sitting on my couch, eating brownies and binge-watching episodes of Friends when I heard a knock at the door. I opened it to find three people in business suits, each holding a clip board. "Can I help you?" I asked.
The first man stepped up and said, "Hi, I'm Ernie. These are my friends Lilly and Ronald. We are all trying to decide who gets to be boss of the neighborhood. If you choose me I'll bake cake for everyone!"
"That's nice," Lilly said, "But realistically no one thinks Ernie can make enough cake for everyone. If you choose me I'll be really nice to you and then I'll punch you in the face."
"Yep. I'll be super nice to everyone, but eventually I'm going to go around punching people in the face."
"But I don't want to be punched in the face!" I yelled.
"Oh, you will. Wait until you hear from Ronald over there." She pointed to the man beside her who had been making sneering faces the whole time Ernie and Lilly had been speaking.
"Nah, you'll totally want me to be the boss of the neighborhood. I'll be the best boss! But, fair warning, if you choose me you will eventually get stabbed."
"What the hell is wrong with you people?" I screamed, startling the cat and making him run behind the sofa.
"The stabbing is just part of the price you pay to have the best boss of the neighborhood. I have to stab everyone to keep the jackasses from 3rd Ave from wandering over here and using your pool." he replied.
"So I can choose between the guy who wants to make me cake, the woman who wants to punch me in the face, or the dude who wants to stab everybody? I think that is a pretty easy choice."
"Wait, wait, wait!" Lilly said. "I know the cake sounds good, but realistically it just isn't going to happen. No one thinks it can happen. Technically you can choose Ernie and his wacky 'Cake For Everyone' idea, but we are doing this by majority vote, so if you vote for Ernie and Ronald ends up getting the majority of the votes from your neighbors then you will absolutely end up being stabbed. You don't want to be stabbed, do you?"
"But I'm stabbing to keep people safe!" Ronald bellowed. "Besides, the same thing goes the other way. If you vote for Ernie and everyone else votes for Lilly then you will absolutely get punched in the face, plus all those jackasses from 3rd Ave will be in your pool all the damn time! At least if you get stabbed by me you'll know your pool is safe. With her all you get is a punch in the face!"
"But I've never seen anyone else in my pool, and voting for Lilly or Ronald is giving my approval for being punched in the face or stabbed! Why would I do that?"
"To save yourself from being stabbed!" Lilly yelled.
"To keep your pool secure and to keep from getting punched in the face!" Ronald roared.
"I think I'm going to choose Ernie. Even if the cake thing doesn't work out at least he hasn't said he is going to actively harm me. Besides, if he is right about everything then I end up getting cake!" I said.
"Go ahead, throw your vote away!" Lilly and Ronald squawked as they walked down the sidewalk, heading next door to talk to my neighbor.
"So, what flavor of cake do you like?" Ernie asked.