Male Studies (Letter 3)

From the Desk of Dr. Norm dePlume,

*Chairman of Dakota University – Medora Branch’s Remedial Studies Department, Ranked #1 School in the Nation for Studying Remedial Studies  
*Winner, 2008 Wheelbarrow Award for Most Non-Designated Grant Money

Dear Sirs,

We are continuing our probe into the behavior of the nondescript college male.  We have isolated two specimens who are providing us with tremendous data. 

They live in a dorm room wired for us to unobtrusively monitor their behavior.  They have taken to the accommodations calling it the “Virgin Trap.”  Although by our count, 0 virgins have been trapped, 1394.3 hours have been spent discussing virgins. 

Our first male, Binko has long hair that he washes (to our best estimates) whenever the moon rises full over the Northeast horizon.  Oddly, this specimen fails to see the strong correlation between surplus hair and the need for increased upkeep.  The female members of our staff would volunteer to show Binko proper care but they fear he would ask them for a date.

The second male is called Zits.  Due to his skin care problems and lack of measurable personality, no other name was even considered.  In fact, a small skirmish over who originated the name has erupted amongst our staff.

In order to raise these males’ attractiveness quotient, each subject has had an expensive, starched, button down shirt placed into his closet.  These rouge elements hung beside the ugly, threadbare garments Binko and Zits normally wear. 

Binko was the first to discover our new stimulus.  He had just stepped in from the shower. 

“Hey man, there’s some strange shirt in my closet.  It looks expensive.  Is it yours?”  

Without turning from his computer, Zits replied, “No.”

“Huh.”  Binko studied the shirt for a bit then replaced it.  “Well I can’t wear it around my crew.  I don’t do prep.” 

His next act was to reach for a worn black T-shirt with the large likeness of a popular science fiction actor on the front. 

Images of this shirt have been shown to over two hundred randomly selected women between the ages of 18-25.  Approximately 110% of them responded in a highly negative manner.  It’s a statistical anomaly we are still unable to explain.

When Zits finally came across his shirt, he mumbled, “Well, who will iron it after I wear it?  Forget it.”

Although we failed to influence Binko and Zits behavior, we did learn that young males could be immune to the strongest of suggestions and/or resistant to the easiest opportunities.  This earns Binko a brain density rating of 237 lbs per square inch with Zits coming in somewhere near 302 lbs.  It has been an eye-opening week.

  We shall keep you abreast,

 
            Professor Norm dePlume

Stray Apron Stings

Welcome to the first post in Cupid’s Cavities.  If you didn’t read the caption associated with the category it says, “A collection of love focused stories and ideas sweet enough to give Cupid tooth decay.”

What really makes these posts different from Dodo Eggs and the other categories is the truth.  Well, there’s at least a healthy dose of it.  You’ll find these posts a thirst-quenching change from everything else on Dodo Eggs.  Or maybe you won’t.

Let’s begin with a couple bits of advice for marital bliss from Mama Teply…

“Move at least 2 hours from me.” – It’s not that she doesn’t like me…I think.  It’s her opinion that only two people should have their hands in a marriage’s delicate clockwork.  

“Never call me and complain about your wife.”- Mama Teply doesn’t wash my dirty laundry anymore (of any sort).  This principle extends to anyone.  It’s horrible form and a tacky habit to complain to anyone about you spouse.  It’s one of the first signs of serious malady.

Since this introductory post was a little short, I’ve added a few bonus quotes from Mama Teply.

“You are as useless as tits on a boar hog.” – Are you so lazy you can’t keep a hobby?   

No one knows why men have tits.  I liken them to hood ornaments on a car.  One thing is for certain, mean big brothers have been trying to twist them off for years and they’re still there.

“Tough titty said the kitty, but the milk is sure good.” – The context of this quote would lead one to believe there was a positive result to whatever difficulty one was experiencing.  This was rarely the case when my mother used it. 

“That’s Neater than a Sceeter’s Peter.”- When “Congradualtions!” or “That’s really great!” just doesn’t seem quite right. 

Do-For-Yourself Selfishness

For thousands of years, thinkers have pondered whether human beings are born with an inward good, a bend to evil, or an inert openness to the environment.  Like siblings around a broken vase, the argument goes on and on. 

Do you want an answer?  Place six lollipops in front of seven toddlers.

If it was possible to open the back of a newborn’s skull and examine the wiring, you would find one big black cable fused directly into the portion of the brain labeled “SELFISHNESS.”  Personal contentment and satisfaction is the only thing that matters to an infant and unfortunately, many adults.

A self-serving nature doesn’t need to be taught.  It comes as naturally as breathing.  Thinking about one’s own wants is an urge that is incredibley strong. 

The human heart is magnetically drawn to its own pole.

And yet, each phase in life seems designed to help shed this vice.  Removing such a deep stain doesn’t occur all at once.  Life, in all its excruciating patience, slowly peals it away.

Stage One:  Newborns and infants cry when they don’t get their way, the adults in their lives do not bow as they pass, or they cease being the center of the universe.  They don’t want to share and they want “it” now.

Good parents begin breaking the child of this by erecting boundaries early.  It’s a good thing when a child comes to recognize the limits of their sovereignty. 

Stage Two: Siblings enter the picture and split the parents focus.  For some, this is caused to a lesser extent by sharing with friends.  Now they are being told to wait and their demands are equal to others.

Stage Three:  In school, the person becomes one of an entire collection of similar kids.  There is one adult to meet twenty different needs.  Rules for behavior are put into place.  A raised hand and a bit of patience are needed before making a request.

Stage Four:  Dating, love, and marriage create a medley that requires a huge investment into another.  You dream of making another person happy not yourself (although companionship isn’t a bad perk).  A healthy commitment to serve and cherish the needs of someone else becomes the basis.

Stage Five:  A new human being, selfish to the core, is put under one’s charge.  Time and energy once used for recreation is now siphoned off to care for the child.  Whatever it takes to care for the child is the mantra.  There is no time or money for self-indulgence.

Stage Six:  You’ve retired.  Your children are gone and so are your responsibilities at work.  People begin excusing your selfish behavior because you’re old.  You do what you want when you want. 

Grandchildren are fed their desires, thus undoing the work of their parents.  You’ve become a net exporter of selfishness! Welcome back to your natural state!

Chemical Warfare

What does it mean to be lazy?  The question is a bit more complicated than you may think.  After all, is it laziness that makes you groan every time your wife suggests rearranging the furniture?  Is it slack that convinces you to let your pool devolve into natural wetlands?  Do you feel joy watching a teenager vacuum the inside of your car and steal your spare change?

No one should feel compelled to enjoy duties they despise for fear of being labeled as lazy.  You don’t have to delight in your lima beans just eat them.   

I believe ignoring how and when task should be done best categorizes being lazy.   

Growing up, I was most chastised for this failure than any deliberately rebellious act.  I looked for any opportunity to cancel my given duties because they were impossible.

No obstacle was too small.  When it was time to shovel the walkway, the shovel was nowhere to be found.  “The shed?  Are you kidding? There’s six inches of snow blocking the doors!”

No circumstance was too flimsy.  “I can’t vacuum mom!  The floor has my board game all over it and Greg said he was coming back tomorrow so we could finish it.”

No reasoning was too fragile.  “The dishes dad?  They look just as clean if we only wipe them off.  Don’t you know Africa is in a drought?”

And yet my brother completely out did me.  He devised a scheme much more sinister by a power of ten.  He would wait out chores my barricading himself in the bathroom for an hour or more. 

When duty called, he heard nature instead, “Mom, I can’t do that right now.  I have to go poop!”

My parents would sometimes force him to wait until after the job was finished.  To counter this tactic my brother would resort to chemical warfare.  Somewhere within his rail thin body was a potent reserve of gas.  It was stored for any emergency situation.

If we complained about the flatulence, he would blame us.  “I told you I needed to go but you wouldn’t let me!”

Most often, my parents and I succumbed to the noxious ploy and Nate was sent to the restroom.  On his way, he would grab a box of snack crackers and a glass for the faucet.  We knew there were comics hidden under the sink.

“I’ll be back as soon as I’m finished.”

The Big News

Gas prices, deficit spending, terrorists, and a bulging waistline have you a bit depressed?

Here’s a shade of joy to color your dreary outlook.  Mr. And Mrs. Teply are pleased to announce a successful confluence.  Only a few troublesome weeks and one very excruciating event now separate us from the joy of sleepless nights, dirty diapers, and skin softer than a cherub’s butt.  (Yes, I know how it happened.  Spare the humor.)

Saul James is still around.  He’s bigger, stronger, better looking, more humorous, and more intelligent than his father.  Down our quiet dead end street, there are three other little boys all within a year and a half of Saul.  The trouble little boys can get into grows exponentially with each additional member to the group.  I’m looking forward to it.

Most people I have shared the news with profess to some hazy foreknowledge.  These pseudo-prophets then conjure a girl in my future.  That’s not going to happen and my reasoning is simple.

Growing up, Papa Teply would wander around the basement of our home “a la natural.”  This didn’t bother my mother, of course, but it did send my brother and I cringing a bit.  We overcame our nausea and life progressed.  

I would never admit to picking up any of my father’s bad habits.  In fact, the idea of pronouncing my dominion in such a barbaric way is truly stomach turning.  But if I did decide to make such a display in my personal habitat, well, a girl would make that impossible.  That’s reason enough for the fates to grant another son.

God willing, we will be welcoming Luke Allen (the beautiful Olivia Kay) in nine months. 

The Platinum Tongue

Here’s another heaping helping of verbal protein.  Verbal protein is a necessary micronutrient found only in naturally occurring dodo eggs.  Apply the heat of any social situation and season to taste.   

Scenario Number One:  While walking down the hallway, an acquaintance or coworker offers a plastic smile.  He then mumbles, “How ya doin?”

I understand that in many parts of our fine nation this question really isn’t a question.  It isn’t really rhetorical either.  It’s just an extra polite, “Hello.” Strangely, I feel compelled to try and answer the question each and every time.   

Dynamic Quotation:  “Just trying to be cool.”  Or when the recipient is noticeably older than I am, “Fifty years from death and you?”

Further Application:  Don’t be shocked if your response gets no acknowledgement.  You weren’t supposed to reply anyway.

Scenario Number Two:  On many occasions, my server at a Mexican restaurant has politely placed a small bowl of salsa at my table then strolled off without any chips.  How am I supposed to enjoy the salsa?  Should I use a straw?  How do napkins taste dipped in salsa?

Thusly, how many times have you received something you asked for without the obvious second component?  When that happens, I reach for…

Dynamic Quotation:  “OK, here’s the salsa.  Where are the chips?”

Further application:  This also works when you receive only part of something when it was plain that the whole thing would be needed.  For instance, you are given a computer with no monitor or you find only one shoe.

Scenario Number Three:  Your cousin has long greasy hair and just graduated with a degree in business administration.  He believes that any number of Fortune 500 companies will be lining up to hire him.  You stress the idea of “professional appearance” but the hair covering his ears deflects your advice.

Dynamic Quotation:  “You can’t tickle a turtle.” Less refined variation, “You can’t teach a bird to piss.”

Further Application:  Anything that cannot be reasonably done is quickly dismissed by either of the above comments.

Scenario Number Four:  Your coworker has stopped by for the fourth time today to “borrow” candy from the small dish you keep in your office.  He keeps offering pithy little comments like, “Wow, I just can’t seem to keep from stopping for candy.”  What about, “Hmmm, you shouldn’t keep such good candy.  You’re going to make me fat!”

When it’s time to torpedo this joker, straighten you posture, adjust your tie, and with a straight face deliver…

Dynamic Quotation: “You’re a turd that doesn’t flush.”

Further Application:  This multi-purpose phrase is good for making your point and still maintaining a hint of humor.  I’ve had it paralyze offenders for several seconds. 

The few that have tried to laugh it off are told, “No, I’m serious.  The next time you bother me with this, I’m pulling out the plunger.”

Male Studies (Letter 2)

From the Desk of Dr. Norm dePlume
  Professor of Disco Bio-Kinetics
  Winner, Dakota University-Medora Branch’s Employee of the Month (June ’02)

Dear Colleagues,

We are updating the data on the young male subjects currently being housed in their natural environment, the dormitory.  

The short, long haired specimen has been named Binko.  He is a moody artist who takes his juvenile orchestration very seriously.  In fact, anyone who fails to appreciate his free form guitar playing is roundly seen as ignorant and unsophisticated.  His band is named “Fecal Stain” which in an apparent attempt to prune its potential fan base to the bare minimum.

Zits is tall and severely set with infected pores and ingrown hairs.  Many on our research staff wish Zits would grow his hair to Binko’s length to cover the affected areas.  He is gainfully employed at a fast food business where he obtains most of his nourishment. 

Our staff has cataloged all discarded fast food bags, which are allowed to collect on the floor like fallen leaves.  When pressed for food, Zits has reopened discarded bags scavenging for any neglected French fries.  These fries enter a chemically induced mummified state preserving the calories for consumption weeks after initial frying. 

We have offered these week old French fries to starving lab rats.  They were placed at the end of the maze instead of cheese.  In an amazing display of dexterity, the rats threw the fries over the walls and ate their tales instead.

Our first real test involved Binko and Zits’ apparent loss of their olfactory sense.  Our staff sealed the window with an insoluble epoxy then rerouted the ventilation as to endlessly recirculate the same air.

Due to the subject’s amazingly limited physical activity, their need for available oxygen seemed to diminish as well.  After less than a half hour, however, two members of our staff did experience dizziness and nausea.  We treated them with supplemental oxygen and “fresh linen” scent.  We expect them to make a full recovery. 

  I will keep you posted regarding further tests,

 

    Dr. Norm dePlume
   

Good Egg & Bad Egg 3

The rules are simple.  I have two stories for you to read and enjoy.  Decide for yourself whether one or both are woven from my real life experiences or purchased with the vile currency of lies.  Remember, one story does not relate to the other.  If you trust in the first, do not automatically assume the other is false.

Special note:  The correct answers to Good Egg & Bad Egg I and II are posted in the comments of each post.  The ChiefDodo knows all.

Egg #1-

Tim and I have been exchanging insults for as long as we have known each other.  With lighthearted tones we catalogue each other’s faults and inadequacies gently slipping them into casual conversation. 

“Tim, I’ll be honest with you.  That goatee-like substance you’ve let grow on your face reminds me of a stadium with a fan in every fifth seat.  Maybe your wife’s mascara can fill in there a bit.”

“Thanks Matt.  I realize now that there was no way my simple showing of facial hair could match the tour-de-force that is your uni-brow.  I thought unchecked hair above the eyes went out with the Neanderthals.” He paused and pointed at towards my brow.  “After all, there’s no missing link between your eyebrows is there?”

Of course, both of us know where the belt is and no blow dips below it.

“Ouch Tim, that hurt.”

“I’m sorry.  There’s a banana in the kitchen.”

One criticism Tim can’t dodge is his chronic procrastination.  To him, there will always be tomorrow.  If there isn’t, then he’s not wasting his last today on landscaping, garage cleaning, or car washing.

The problem went so far as the naming his first daughter.  For months, Tim would tell anyone who asked that the child’s name was a secret.

I knew better.  “You still don’t have a name do you?  At least you don’t have to come up with a last name.”

“Shut up, we bought a book!”

When the baby girl was born, Tim and his wife still hadn’t negotiated a name.  Nine months had come and gone and after countless opportunities for thought (mowing the lawn, sitting in the bathroom, driving to work…) there was still no name.  The nursing staff just used their last name followed by girl at first.  Eventually, they just wrote “Female X” on the baby’s pink name card.

Tim and his wife ended up staying in the hospital an extra two days because the hospital would not let them check out without a name on the birth certificate.

I had to say something.  “Tim, each extra day in the hospital is costing you a fortune.  Just pick a name.  Try Sally, Ursula, René, Storm or ShagQuesha.  Just look at the child and call it like you see it.”

Tim bent close and looked at his daughter’s delicate features.  His wife was gently rubbing a thin coat of baby oil over some dry skin on the baby’s belly.

He took a deep breath.  “I like the smell of baby oil.  How about Olivia?”

Egg #2-

Imagine how much fun a parade is when you’re two and a half.  The floats are four times bigger!  The styles and colors of antique cars are brand new to you!  And their throwing candy at you! 

When you have no concept of money what else is there?

My wife and son attended a small town parade a couple of days ago.  Fire trucks rolled down main street with red lights spinning and short blasts from the siren.  It was enough to send my boy into ecstatic shock.  (It’s a zombie like condition where the brain locks down on particular stimuli.  Good parents need to check for breathing.)

The only real snag was the absence of candy.  Almost none of the cars, tractors, and rolling promotions threw the sweet confections. 

It was an omission my son did not fail to air, “CANDY!  TROW CANDY!  TROW CANDY!”

When a few did grace the children with sweets, the boy raced about with his peers bringing back not only candy but whatever sticky trash was found on the street.

The finale was a pickup truck with workers from the state parks department.  The park rangers waved and threw what I believe to be the most unique parade prize of all time…fly swatters.  Kids ran and squealed in their quest to acquire orange, plastic fly swatters. 

Maybe next time they can toss roach motels.

Moonroot (Part 1)

Elias wandered down from one of the thickly treed hillsides of early Europe.  Below him, a village clung to the meandering river like an infant’s hand around his mother’s finger.  Perhaps here he would find shelter and food for the night.

The wizard had followed a deer trail through the woods.  With his wand before him, the recent hoof prints glowed white.  Elias never traveled the trade routes used by the common people, he found using nature’s shortcuts much faster.

He had been in the thick forest looking for a tree he knew no longer existed.  The moonroot tree grew only when sunlight was filtered by Luna’s surface.  Only the wood from the thin, barkless tree was suitable for wands and no real spell could be completed without the curved five-foot staffs.  It grew tortuously slow and had been loosing ground to more vigorous, sun-soaking specimens for hundreds of years. 

Wizards, mages, and seers were always a thin profession limited in number by the difficulty of their art and the scarcity of the moonroot.  In fact, a suitable moonroot had not been found since Elias claimed his wand in 563 AD.  During his long life, Elias has had two apprentices leave in frustration and disgust after years of searching the Roman Empire and then the Germanic lands for moonroots.

Self-pity and shades of bitterness marked his thinking like a scar.  “And now it appears I am the last to walk in the wizard’s shoes.”

Elias looked around him.  He closed his eyes and let his presence reach into the earth and touch the clouds above his head.  The magic didn’t speak to him in terms of tribe or nationality.  It showed him rivers, mountains, and the great seas. 

“I am near the fertile land of the Franks.  To the East, lies Saxony.”

The village below looked vigorous with the occasional ox drawn wagon rolling along the hard packed roads, its axel in desperate need of grease.  Small stone cottages were built haphazardly around the town square like a spilt box of children’s toys.  Two thick spires from the town’s cathedral pierced the sky and nearby were larger, two story structures one of which was an inn.

Elias made his way to the town and stopped before the inn’s wide door.  There were no sounds coming from the inside.  A good inn always had commotion of some sort. 

The wizard went inside.  Its common room was dark with canvas draped across every other window.  It was an obvious sign that the owner of the inn was in mourning.  He approached the woman who had appeared from the kitchen at the sound Elias’ entry.

“Welcome to the Le’Porta sir, but I am afraid your welcome isn’t what it should be.  The owner has died and his young widow is in no spirit to care for guests.  As you can see we are in mourning.”

“Lady,” Elias replied.  “All I require to eat is a crust of bread and salted meat.  All I need to bathe is a large tub filled with rainwater.  And all I need to sleep is a straw filled pallet.  I will pay in silver.”

The woman looked down.  Elias saw that she was a mature woman whose hair was still mostly brown with hints of gray.  Her strong posture had fooled him into mistaking her for a younger woman. 

“They could use the money.”  She pointed to the kitchen door.  “I will serve you.  Go to the kitchen, on one wall is a large iron washtub.  While I am preparing your bed, you may start the fire in the hearth, take water from the rain barrel and heat it to make your bath.  When you are finished your meal will be waiting here by the fireplace.”

Elias went to the kitchen and used his moonroot staff to begin a fire.  He levitated the entire rain barrel bringing it into the kitchen with only a few light pushes and poured it into the iron washtub with strength from his shortest finger.  Then he dipped his wand into the water until it was at a near boil.  Once he replaced the rain barrel, Elias found the lye soap to was his clothes and body.

“I wonder,” he thought as his body soaked.  “Would it be worth my time to ask my hostess about the innkeeper?  Perhaps I can help if it doesn’t take too long.  I have many miles to travel before reaching the coast of Britannia.”

After his bath, the wizard dried his clothes with a touch of the moonroot and went into the commons area where he expected to find his meal.  Elias entered the room and saw the woman tending to the fireplace.  On the table behind her, was a plate and a wooden cup.

She stood suddenly when she noticed his presence.  “Oh, sir.  I have prepared some venison for you along with an old carrot or two I found in the cellar.  There is some new milk in the cup though.”

Elias sat and began eating.  “This is good.  Thank you.  What is your name, dearest?”

“Inge.”  She sat down on a stool across from him.  “It’s not a pretty name but it is sturdy, I suppose.”

“You grace it with you actions and stature.”  Elias took a bite.  The meat was tough but it would suffice.

She pointed to the moonroot wand on the table next the Elias.  “I notice you carry a walking stick.  Do you have a poor leg?”

Elias laughed.  “No lady, this is a thin branch of willow from my homeland.  It has no value other than to remind me of where I’ve been.”  He gave his wand a dismissive gesture.  “Why don’t you tell me what became of the innkeeper and why you now care for this place alone?”

“Almost a year ago, the Frankish lords came through with an army.  They were on a campaign to punish the barbarian Saxons for raids some ways to the north.  The men of this village were promised a share from what was taken.  Most went and returned with less money than they had hoped for but at least they came back.”

Inge paused and whiped a tear from her cheek.  “Four men did not return.  The innkeeper was one of them.  Like my husband, they followed the sword and it turned on them.”

“You mentioned a widow earlier.”

Inge turned to the fire.  “Yes, actually all were married with at least one small child.  They are still in mourning spending most of their days at home weeping for their husbands while family and others help care for their children.”

“And you take care of the inn?”

“I do more than that but their grief does not abate.  They wail and cry as they lack even bodies to bury.  I don’t know how long this can last.”

Elias took a drink from his milk.  He joined Inge in looking toward the fire. “How long have they been so distraught?”

“Almost four months.”

“Go and fetch them.”  Elias touched Inge’s shoulder and she turned.  “Bring these widows to me and I will help them.  Don’t ask me why or how just do as I ask.”

Moonroot (Part 2)

Inge brushed her tears away with the tips of her fingers.  Elias’ words didn’t make sense right away.  Then she nodded, “I will do so, but please do not toy with these women.  They are fragile like egg shells.”

While she was gone, Elias finished his meal and considered the spell he would use to help these women.  He considered changing a few rocks to gold, their wool garments into silk, or the dust at their feet into salt.  The wizard took a deep breath casting aside such simple ideas.  He had something better.

Inge returned with four distressed looking women one in the midst of crying.  They were young and in the flower of their beauty.  But before him now they looked haggard, wilted, and dying. 

Elias motioned them to his table and all including Inge sat.  Evening had come and the fire was the only light.  It weaved the women’s darkened spirits into long shadows that glided along the wooden floor.

“Life has dealt harshly with you.  The heart that warmed you and the arms that supported you have been reclaimed.  I cannot take death and raise it unto life but I can offer you husbands that will meet your greatest desire.  I know of men who will love you with every drop of their blood.  If you will accept them, they will offer you your lives back.”

One of the widows spoke up, “How can you offer us this?”

“I have recently passed through a village that has lost many women from a harsh plague only two years ago.  Many strong men survived the pestilence but their wives and children did not.  I say again, if you will accept these men they will restore your hope.”

“We do not know these men.  How do we know they can support us?”

The old wizard smiled.  “Very well, tell me what you need and I will bring you such a man.”

The first widow, a woman named Brena, spoke first, “My husband owned a large farm and was strong.  I need a man who can shoulder a plow and till the earth himself.”

“I know of such a man and once he meets you he will love you with every once of his amazing strength.”

The next widow was called Rachel.  “My husband was the innkeeper.  My next husband must be clever.  No penny or detail can escape his notice.”

“Indeed, I have a suitor  with a great deal of cunning and perception.  In fact, the first thing he will notice will be your beautiful eyes.”

Trena spoke, “All I want is to be protected.  My husband worked the land and protected his sheep.  He let nothing threaten his family or our small home.”

“There is a man in the next village with an iron will.  And yet, he will be willing to lay down his life for you.”

The last widow was named Catherine.  “I want a handsome man of course!  I want to look upon him with not only love but also pride.  He was the mayor’s son and destined to govern this village.”

“I know of such a man.  He is well proportioned and well liked but he will bow to wash your feet.” 

Then Elias looked upon Inge.  “And what about you?  Do you not desire another husband to help warm your bed at night?”

Inge smiled but it was a thin pained look.  “I want what is hardest to find.  My first husband was kind above all other things. And for many years I have waited to meet another.”

Elias marveled at her.  “Lady, I will search for a man worthy of your wisdom.  Pray that I find one.”  Then he stood and spoke to all of the widows.  “I leave this very moment!  I will return in only one week’s time.  Go home and prepare them for new husbands.”

The wizard picked up his moonroot wand and tossed a couple of silver tokens onto the table.  The women stood as he left but no one said anything or bothered him with another question.  He had woven his words with such conviction and confidence that all felt certain they could believe him.

Elias wandered the woods for days.  He came across a tall stag with antlers that sat on the deer’s head like a crown.  The wizard pointed his wand at the stag and it instantly changed into an equally handsome man.

With another stroke of the moonroot soft birch bark was woven then transformed into fine new clothes.

They traveled together until Elias found the wide hole of a badger den.  He drew the creature out and bent it into another man.  This one formed his hands into fists giving Elias and the other man a wary look.

“Be at peace.  You have nothing to look after here but this worthless soil.  I will take you to one worth protecting.”  He gave the badger clothes in the same fashion.

A day later, a fox crossed the wizard’s path.  Elias pointed with the wand and another man was formed.  “Your wit was keen in the forest and it shall also be so in the world of men.  Come with me.”

The last animal was an ox that had somehow wandered from its owner.  It stood in the forest clearing munching contently on the tall grass.  Elias reworked the four hooves into hands and feet.

“Stronger than any natural man are you.  And even stronger will be the love I have for you to share.”

The week had nearly expired before Elias and his men reached the woods at the village of widows.  He had searched for any animal that exuded kindness and had failed. 

“What man can I find that is kind or wise enough to love the older woman?  Perhaps I can be Inge’s new husband?  I have wasted enough of my life searching for the moonroot trees.  I know they no longer exist.  If she will have me, I will marry her.”