Friday, January 8, 2010


A tribe of Native Americans dwelt in the Pacific Northwest.  They hunted and fished and practiced exercising and sex.  They had music and dance and sometimes wore costumes and pretended to embody imaginary beings made real by common consent - thought they spent most of their time sitting about and masticating.  Their lives were filled with a sense of infinite mystery and adventure, but also with fear of the unknown and its consequent recourse to the safe rigidities of tradition.  These factors made it difficult for anyone to diverge from the quite conservative social norms and values of the community, and even less with the socially established interpretation of the world and events.  Thus, psychological eccentricities tended to manifest themselves in subtle quirks and private fixations and even obsessions.  This is the tale of one of those quirks.

Will-sleep-with-barbs became Sleeps-with-barbs during puberty.  He had always shown an affinity for animals, to the dismay of his father, Notoriously-cruel-to-animals.  However, at the onset of the Hormonal Surge, this affinity became an overwhelming obsession.  Sleeps-with-barbs apprenticed himself to the best trackers in the tribe, and spent all of his free time following porcupines and smelling their scat.  When he finally came upon a member of the spiny race, he would spend an inordinate period of time mumbling pick-up lines under his breath and gathering his nerve before leaping out upon the poor creature and making his ham-fisted advance.  The startled porcupine (usually a busy business being, or a chaste virgin taught to flee the sight of a man's Stout One) would flee, and Sleeps-with-barbs would hang his head in shame from the psychological incarnation of his judgmental society which he had internalized, and he would cry. 

While it was not uncommon for members of the tribe, particularly lonely trackers away from home for months on end, to become enamored of and make love to animals, Sleeps-with-barbs was ugly and awkward in a way difficult for modern readers to imagine.  He embarrassed himself in front of the Fraulein every time, and did a bad job at all the activities his peers used to attract mates.  He was thus desperate for sex, and so when he happened upon an exceedingly obese porcupiness one day, he led her back to his village and kept her and fed her.  Though she was of an exceedingly crass and slothful character, puerile, greedy, and ungrateful, she nevertheless endured his ceaseless porkings and little kisses.  She would never consent to sleep with him, however, and this he always resented - until the day she died, over-porked, on his teepee porch.

It was then that he earned his name.  For Sleeps-with-barbs skinned his over-loved lover's hulk and with it he knit himself a barbed blanket to caress his person in the night.

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