(A little parable I wrote more than a decade ago and published on my old blog in 2005.)
Once upon a time, while driving through the forest in the Chevette her fairy godmother had made out of a pumpkin, Goldilocks ran out of gas.
“Oh, bother!” said Goldilocks. “Even if Prince Charming were to ride by, it’s very unlikely he’d be carrying a gas can in the saddlebags of his white horse, so I guess I’ll just have to leave a trail of breadcrumbs and walk back to that gingerbread filling station I passed at the edge of the woods.”
Needing something in which she could carry gasoline, Goldilocks opened her hatchback and considered the options before her.
First, there was a ball.
“This one is too closed!” she sighed, and sadly shook her yellow curls. “I could never get the gas in or out of it! Then I would never make it to grandmother’s house with this basket of food!”
Second, she considered a bowl.
“This one is too open!” she said. “Some of the precious fuel might slosh out as I walk back through the woods. Or something might fall into the bowl to make the gasoline impure or ineffective. I can just see me accidentally concocting some potion that would put me to sleep for a hundred years!”
Third, a bottle caught her eye.
“This one is just right!” she cried with joy. “It has an opening, so I can pump the gas into it and pour it easily and precisely into the tank when I return. And the opening is narrow enough that I can cover it if necessary, thereby protecting the contents from things that I don’t want to contaminate it. I can choose what goes in and out of this bottle, and when, and where.”
Of course it occurred to Goldilocks (who was pretty clever, for a blonde) to first rub the bottle, but since no genie from Triple Wish appeared to grant her a tank of gas, a magic carpet, and seven-league boots, she set off on foot to fetch the gas.
“And next time,” she made a mental note, “I’m just going to pay the troll and take the shortcut over the bridge!”