Once upon a time, on a warm summer day, a girl named Alice came to the seaside to play in the sand and splash in the warm water.

After hours of slow driving on narrow roads with thousands of other cars, she finally saw the beautiful blue water, and cried out with excitement, “Daddy, there it is, there it is! It’s the water!” Daddy said, “Yes, my dear, but be patient. I have to find a place to park.” Several hours later, Alice, with pail and shovel in hand, made her way to the beach.

They saw a man with a green hat and Alice said to him, “Which way should we go?”

The Green Hatter said, “Anywhere you want.”

Alice said, “Can I go there and build a sandcastle?"

He said, “Yes, little girl, you can go there, but you can’t.”

She said, “I don’t understand. What does that mean?”

The Green Hatter said, “It’s simple. Maybe you can and maybe you can’t. It all depends.”

Alice said, “I see, but I don’t see. I really want to build a sandcastle and splash in the water.”

The Green Hatter said, “There are places you can go and places you can’t. It’s just that simple.”

Alice was confused. She asked the Green Hatter to explain.

He said, “For many years, some of the sand was for all people, and some of the sand was for certain people, but all of the people could go anywhere. Everyone knew where they could build sandcastles and where they couldn’t. Then one day Tweedledave and Tweedledan told everyone things had changed, and it was OK for anyone to go anywhere. They marched up and down the beach, holding hands, and singing songs. Tweedledave told everyone, 'Even though you can’t, you can. The rules say you can't, but you can because the rules aren't the rules. And if they are, then they shouldn’t be. That's logic.'”

The Five Cheshire Cats from the North insisted they should make the rules, even if they couldn’t, and even if they weren’t sure what rules to make.

Then everyone got angry and called each other names. The Green Hatters were confused. There were fights, and then they went to the man in the long black robe. Black Robe thought about the sand problem and said, “It could be yes and it could be no, I do not know. But whatever it is, you won’t know until I think about it, and it takes a long time for me to think about it, so I’ll let you know when I’m done thinking about it.”

In the meantime, many people from far away, who wear expensive clothes and drive big cars, were called in to say whose sand you can build sandcastles on and whose you can’t. This will take many years, and lots of money, to figure out.

Alice said to the Green Hatter, “Why are things so confusing here?” He said, “Oh, you can’t help that. We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Green Hatter, "or else you wouldn’t have come here.”

Art Miller is a resident of Miramar Beach.