(An Erisian Fable)

There was a river. The women of the village gathered at various times during the week to wash the family's clothes in the river. This was a very large village, and they had many clothes, so there was much washing going on.

Now, after many years of washing, the women had come to understand that it was important to do your washing upstream from everyone else if you could. They knew that washing downstream from someone else meant that someone's soap suds and dirt going through your clothes. Being down river meant being lower in status.

As the village grew, the women made changes in their washing habits, that they might be upriver when washing. Some took to washing at night, until there were many washing at night. Some would wade farther and farther out, sometimes needing a raft, till there were washers all the way across. Some tried to go much farther upstream, until they were walking a mile up the rocky bank to find a good spot and not bother those farther down stream.

One day a wife stood up and declared that this washing was getting to her, and that the men should be doing the washing, since they were the ones making most of the clothes dirty. Amazingly, the men agreed.

The next day they set out to wash. They (having heard the tales from their wives) quickly saw all the problems. At first they tried to schedule things very carefully, but realized that they weren't fast enough to get done in time. Then they tried a system gang washing, where several people would work on a load at once, but realized that then the were just spreading the dirt out amongst a given load, thus making everyone a little dirtier at times. Some of the men got angry at one another, when someone's best shirt was downstream from their worst pants. Others got frustrated and yelled that some had too many clothes. Fights ensued.

After a time the village was seething with anger. The men hated each other, the women were mad at the men because of the poor washing job, and the children were mad because the parents were.

One day a man took slight to a neighbor moving upstream during washing, so he grabbed a rock and bashed his neighbors head in, staining the water with blood, thus ruining many clothes. Those whose clothes were ruined got mad and started grabbing rocks. The women yelled to stop, but began fighting amongst themselves in support of their husbands. The children looked on in horror, as their parents slowly killed each other off.

Near this scene, sitting serenely under a tree, was a beautiful woman, shining a golden apple. Floating near her was a pig shaped ghost, who regarded the scene with interest. The pig was heard to remark, "Good argument for nudity."

The woman just giggled.

David C. Todd Copyright 1996