Philipan Stag and the Hunter-
Lazaros Xenophontos, CivE’23
In a Brooklyn coffee shop, a millennial wearing a chestnut turtleneck, form fitting black pants, and a black fedora walked up to the microphone, cleared his throat and began to tell a medieval tale.
Long ago, like longggg ago, two boys were born in extremely different worlds: one in a palace, heir to the throne, and the other in the slums, abandoned by his parents at birth. The former, Prince Philipan Stag, a classic boy next door, grew up posh, possessing the ability to see the good in everyone. The latter, Hunter, a real eye candy, watched Prince Philipan day and night, envious of the disparities in their lives.
One day, Prince Philipan’s lavish life was in shambles following an argument with the prince and his parents.
“But mother, father, I cannot simply change who I am. I am entirely fit to rule the kingdom, and more importantly, I am entirely fit to be your son,” he pleaded.
“We do not have a son,” King Stag, a real snooze fest, sternly replied. “I cannot accept such a ‘lifestyle’ as preposterous and unreliable as yours. How can you be the next King if you do not plan to extend the family lineage?”
Queen Stag, the biggest yes man to her husband, stood by idly, complacent with the King’s behavior. Thoughts began to consume the flustered prince, “But why would Mother not defend me? What did Father mean by their lack of a son? What is to happen next? For what reason am I unable to fill them with pride? Is something the matter with me that I upset them so? What...” These questions plagued his mind- any normal person would resent their parents after this interaction. He still saw the good in his parents; it was the good in himself he was losing sight of. He was sent to pack his bags and leave the kingdom, never to return.
Devastated, Philipan Stag set out ignorant of where to go next. Lost and defeated, Philipan sensed a warm and gentle presence. A stunningg maiden, whose wisdom exceeded her years, noticed Philipan.
“I have never seen you around these parts before. What is your name?” asked the gorg maiden.
“I am Pr- Philipan Stag.” In that moment, he realized the privileges he had lost--no need to be so fancy pants, anymore. “You may address me as just Philipan.”
“It sure is nice to meet you, Just Philipan. I am Coquetta. Now what is a handsome fella like you doing in a dump like this?”
Philipan explained it all to Coquetta who started chuckling.
“That makes you one of us now. I am sure everyone is going to love ya, come on!”
With no other plan, he agreed and followed Coquetta to a modest village, much nicer than the slums. The villagers accepted him warmly, giving him a cottage.
Every weekend, the villagers participated in a festival, kinda like this coffee shop event, sitting in a circle and sharing their routines and aspirations. They would then celebrate in a night of music and dancing. Philipan, at first too shy to come out- we’ve all been there before- to the festivals debated returning home. In time, he attended and made his existence more known.
One day Philipan decided to share his story.
“Good morrow, I have been named Philipan,” he said after standing up.
“Good day Philipan,” the villagers gayly replied.
“I thank you all for allowing me to reside in this village. I have spent my days preparing meals and exploring, but I do find it a bit lonesome. It would be most congenial to share my time with someone else. I am quite new to this all and quite unsure of what else to say. That is all,” Philipan said as he sat back down.
“Why, how sweet,” Coquetta remarked. “Everyone raise your glass and let’s celebrate the start of Philipan’s journey.”
The community was eager for the song and dance part. Dancing his ass off, a proud Philipan thought “Maybe this is home after all.” However, such fleeting bliss did not cure his plagued thoughts. Blaming himself for his abandonment, he thought to find validation from love.
Seeing Philipan shocked Hunter, for this was the last person he expected here. To gain his attention, he decided to introduce himself at the next festival. “Hello all, my name is Hunter,” he said. His appearance was the farthest thing from a hunter; great fashion, good smile, nice hair, sexy build, he had it all.
“Good day Hunter!” exclaimed the excited audience.
“I am forever grateful for everyone in this village, especially you Coquetta,” he said as he turned his body towards her. “ You found me alone a few years back, recruited me, and have been a most motherly figure to me. I pray to one day live royally and make my parents regret abandoning me at birth. I also pray to be half as wise, beautiful and useful as you when I am older,” he said while winking at Coquetta.
“Why you,” Coquetta said while blushing.
“Like our new friend Philipan said last week, I too seek someone to accompany me on my daily routine. While I am no longer physically alone, I still have lonely times. Thank you all for listening.”
Philipan, like everyone else, was head over heels after their introduction. There was something different about Hunter. Like I said, great fashion, good smile, nice hair, sexy build….
“To another week of good fortune!” the villagers shout as they all raise their glasses.
While the rest danced, Hunter approached to introduce himself one-on-one.
“Philipan, correct?” Hunter questioned.
“Indeed. Hunter, I presume?”
With a nod of his head,“Yes, I am Hunter. I am unsure of why my parents cursed me with such a name, but that is besides the point. I do say, you are full of confidence and pride for introducing yourself at a festival so soon. I admire such boldness.” Philipan grinned at the compliment and Hunter continued, “I noticed you said that you were looking for company during your daily routine. Would you mind if I joined you tomorrow?” he asked with a charming smile. Philipan kindly agreed and the two rejoined the celebrations for the rest of the night.
The following day, Hunter arrived at Philipan’s house and they passed the time preparing meals, telling jokes, and distracting each other from their loneliness. For like weeks.
Philipan finally confided to Coquetta his curiosity in Hunter, asking how to take things to the next level.
“Hunter hasn’t told me of having a love...for cold coffee. Are you sure?” she exclaimed.
“I am certain of it. He has complimented me on many occasions,” Philipan explained.
“Well then, when he flatters you, flatter him back!”
Philipan took Coquetta’s advice to be the law, and did exactly as she said. The next day he nervously awaited for Hunter to pay him a compliment.
“There’s something different about you, you aren’t like the rest of us villagers. Are you sure you aren’t a son of royalty?” Hunter joked.
“Indeed I am not,” Philipan said laughingly. “ I must admit my shock to see one as charming and kempt as you in a small village like this. Are you sure you aren’t a son of royalty?” he joked back.
Unwittingly reminded of his envy of Philipan’s past privilege, Hunter grew angry and dismissed himself. He ghosted him for a whole week.
In the meantime, Philipan returned to Coquetta, concerned that her advice did not work.
“Surely something is missing. Maybe Hunter is just a bit nervous around you. Or maybe,” she began hesitantly, “are you sure he has a ...?”
“I am sure of it. He always looks in my eyes and nothing else in the room,” Philipan insisted.
“Well then, you must stare into his eyes intensely and see if sparks are there.”
Once again taking Coquetta’s advice to be the law, he did exactly as she said. The next day he and Hunter returned to their daily routines together. Philipan nervously awaited for them to lock eyes. When they did, Philpan leaned in and stared into his eyes. They sat there for what seemed hours - it was really only a minute - until Hunter questioned what Philipan was doing. Embarrassed, Philipan ran off and the two did not hang out for a week. Yikessss.
Philipan returned to Coquetta, again concerned about her failing advice.
“I have one last guess. If he talks only about you, he must love cold coffee,” she giddily cheered.
Hunter, who was looking to ask Philipan why he left, overheard Coquetta and smiled.
The next day he said “Doing our daily routine together delights me, though it doubles our work. Don’t you think so?” Philipan agreed, so he asked, “I would like to get to know you more. Beyond the village. Won’t you join me in the forest tomorrow?”
Philipan tried his hardest to contain his smile. He thought to himself, “Alas! I do think Hunter has shown himself to be an exceptional man,” and agreed.
Philipan was nervous, since he had never been on a date before. He reminded himself of Coquetta’s advice and for the third time, took it to be the law, doing exactly what she said.
“Tell me everything about yourself,” Hunter said attentively. “Who is Philipan?”
Philipan smiled and blushed. He was unsure what to say.
“Hmmmm.. that is too great of an inquiry. May I ask what you long to learn?”
“I was thinking...why are you staying in this village?”
“My parents demanded my departure,” Philipan sighed.
“Why?” Hunter concerningly asked.
“Well- I have a love… for cold coffee.”
“That’s all?” Hunter asked. “What if I go see if your parents have had a change of heart? You do not deserve to dispend your glorious days in such modest surroundings.”
Philipan consented, taking this as the ultimate sign of flirtation. Finally Coquetta was right about something. He gave Hunter directions to the palace. Regardless of his parents’ decision, he believed he had found love. Slowly, the good in himself was reappearing.
Hunter arrived at the palace and requested that King and Queen Stag reinstate their son as heir the throne. This plan was to no avail, and his plea was dismissed. He continuously entreated the royal family until they sent guards to escort him out of the palace. However, Hunter was not finished.
Back in the village, Philipan anticipated Hunter’s return, caring more about their budding romance than returning home. Hunter asked Philipan for his hand in marriage. Always longing for love, he blissfully agreed. The newlyweds spent the next month on cloud nine.
Meanwhile, King Stag grew awfully ill. He had spent the month bedridden, unable to discharge his duties. Reluctant, he had no recourse but to pass power to Philipan. He directed a knight to provide Philipan with a message which read: Philipan, my prince, please preserve our patriarchal power with a princess. Oh brother.
When Philipan received word from his father, he told the knight that he would only return if he and Hunter ruled together. The knight disclosed that the king was in no condition to refuse Philipan’s command. Philipan and Hunter bid farewell to the villagers. They became the new kings and had arrived just in time to visit the former king in his last moments.
Their arrival surprised Philipan’s father. He recognized King Hunter from his recent visit, but there lay a secret within their meeting of which no one was aware.
“This is the man who has made me ill! How could you marry the man that has done such a horrid thing to your own father?” he questioned Philipan.
“Nonsense father. This is certainly not true. How can one make another ill? Hunter, tell him how absurd this is!” Philipan exclaimed.
His face, full of a not so charming smile, swiftly shifted to a compassionate expression, as he cried, “My parents left me to become a poor man in the slums, with little chance of survival. I watched the palace from afar and immediately fell in love with you. I was never able to confess my love, for I knew that it would not be accepted. When I met you at the village, I knew I wanted to be together forever. I only wanted to stop the man who inhibited your identity. All I did was tell him one day we would rule this kingdom together. His condition is no reflection of my actions but his own impure thoughts. This was all for us. You must believe me! How could you take the side of a father who abandoned you over the man who never would?”
Queen Stag tried to convince her son otherwise, but Philipan was now Hunter’s yes man. The two kings sent Queen Stag to a convent to pray for God’s grace on the kingdom. They continued to rule the kingdom, but things started to get a little rocky.
“Hunter, I did not anticipate ruling the kingdom to mean no fun at all. Don’t you miss our daily routines: the excursions to the marketplace, preparing meals, our humor? The festivals?”
“Philipan...this is fun. I have longed to live like this my entire life. Being in the village was fine, but surely we deserve better,” Hunter replied, raising his gold-chased goblet.
“Better? What can be more mundane than looking at papers, meeting with our allies and discussing preparations for war? And I am named Philipan, lover of all. However, ruling this kingdom is something I rather do not enjoy,” Philipan stopped and looked at how Hunter’s charming smile began to change. “Never mind me. I am just rambling on. Nothing joys me more than spending my time as King here with you,” Philipan said smiling sweetly.
Hunter, who only paid mind to the compliment, smiled and continued to spend his days sipping out of his gold goblet, bossing around his subjects and letting out a bold and preposterous laugh, to match his posh lifestyle. Philipan would watch Hunter and sigh, reminiscing about how tranquil and romantic life in the village was. His ability to see the good in everyone was spiraling out of control once again; only this time seeing the good in himself was not the issue. He went outside the palace, looking in the direction of the village.
“Surely I thought finding someone to love would rid me of my ache. And it has. Slowly, it is returning again. What am I to do?” Philipan thought out loud while he began to cry.
Hunter, who was looking for Philipan to attend some royal responsibility, overheard Philipan confess his unhappiness directly for the very first time.
When he noticed the gloomy expression on Philipan’s face, one which was usually gayly expressive, Hunter felt a pang deep in his soul. “What is this feeling, did I do something wrong? Surely I am mistaken, for nothing surpasses my desire to live lavishly.” Hunter shook off his thoughts and returned to his throne.
That night, Philipan told Hunter that he was feeling ill and that he would have to sleep in a different bedroom, for Hunter’s protection.
“Were something to happen to Philipan, I would be the sole ruler of this kingdom. Even more for me! Yet why do I not feel content?” Hunter thought to himself.
The following day, when both kings were required to welcome the royal retinue of a neighboring ally, Philipan was nowhere to be found.
“It is unlike him to be tardy, especially to something as important as a meeting with our allies. Maybe I should go see if I can find him,” Hunter said to the ruler of another kingdom.
“Rubbish! If neither ruler of this kingdom can attend this alliance, then there is no alliance, is there?” their ally declared.
“Some things are more important than alliances,” Hunter rejected.
“Do inform me of what,” the ruler scoffed. “Alliance means power. Power means wealth.”
Hunter gasped and hesitated to apologize for risking the alliance, but some compulsion forced him from the meeting in search of Philipan. He knew exactly where he would turn.
Hunter found Philipan in the village, confiding in Coquetta.
Some people say that Hunter went to apologize to Philipan and on account of his guilty conscience, he fled, never to be seen again. Philipan then realized that he did not need the validation from a man after all and went on to rule the kingdom alone. While that’s cute, I guessss, it doesn’t sit right with me. So here is the ending we all deserve to hear.
Outside of Coquetta’s house Hunter shouted, “Have I been so wrapped up in my obsession for wealth and power that I forgot to cherish my greatest passion?”
Philipan looked out Coquetta’s window in confusion.
“Philipan, I truly did not realize this sooner. I have been so caught up thinking about how to live like you, lavish and royal. Ever since I was a young child watching you from afar, I have envied your lifestyle; compared to mine, you seemed to have everything you wanted. But I could not have been more wrong. The thing we both obsessed over has been the same all along!”
“But I have never longed for riches, even when residing in the village.”
“Neither have I,” Hunter replied. “I thought I did, but really my obsession was not living like you. It was living with you. I did not know it back then, but I do now. I do want to be with you forever. I do want to live the way we did here, fun routines and no more royal responsibilities. Can you ever forgive me?” he pleaded.
“But you have lied on every occasion; how ever do you expect me to extend you my trust?” Philipan asked with a look of bewilderment.
“We can release your mother. Pass the throne onto Coquetta. Whatever you wish. I do not care what we do, because... I truly love cold coffee too,” he said with the most charming smile of all.
The loving Philipan- told you he was a really standup guy- forgave Hunter for his wrongdoings, followed Hunter’s proposals, and the two lived happily ever after.
And that is the story of why we love iced coffee.