Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Honey Deniers

There was once a country wherein the only foods consumed were meat and potatoes.  These were seasoned with salt and pepper and the potatoes were often livened up with slabs of butter, but the people of the country were totally ignorant of all other fair. "Meat and potatoes everyday," they would say to each other, "you can't get much better than that."

One day, a young man of that country came down with a nasty case of the wanderlust and he decided to take a sack of potatoes and few tins of jerky and see what was happening on the other side of the wilderness. He walked for a couple of days and then he walked for a couple days more. He was beginning to worry that his jerky and potatoes might run out and leave him food-less in the wilderness, when at last he sighted a village in the distance. The people of the village welcomed the traveler and one of them invited him to her family's house for supper.

The young man sat down for supper in a strange land and found before him the usual meat and potatoes. But after the meal the host emerged with something he had never seen before, something they called "dessert." It was sliced bread smothered in honey. 

"What is it?" the young man asked his hosts.

"It's good," they replied, "just try some."

He took a bite and was almost overcome by a sensation that he had never known before: sweetness!

"Wow," he said, "you have to tell me where you get this."

~ ~ ~

A few weeks later the young wanderer returned to his home country. He tried to explain to his friends and family about honey and sweetness, but it was hopeless.

"It's like there's this thing that happens on your tongue," he said, "this different kind of flavor, and then it fills your whole head and then everywhere."

"Is it like butter?" his brother asked.

"No, it's not like butter," he replied, exasperated, "it doesn't come from cows at all."

"Then where does it come from?"

When word got around about where this supposedly wonderful food came from, people began to laugh. They said all that traveling around in the wilderness had made the young man crazy, and the "honey" he was always on about was just a product of his fevered imagination.

"Come on now," they would chide him, "you want us to believe that the best food in the world is bee shit?!?"

"Show us some," they would taunt, but he had eaten all he had during his journey home. People began to snicker at him everywhere he went. It became unbearable.

Finally, the young man decided to prove himself once and for all. There was a beehive in the branches of a tree on the edge of the city, and the young man announced that he was going there to bring back some honey. Unfortunately, he had failed to learn the process used in the neighboring country to obtain the honeycomb from the beehive, but had instead spent all his time eating as much honey as he could. Consequently, he returned from his mission empty-handed and covered in welts. People really got a kick out of that. Some people said it was sad and showed how dangerous mental illness could be; but mostly, they just laughed.

After the swelling had gone down, the young man decided to return to the country of honey. He gathered another sack of potatoes and a few more tins of jerky and prepared to leave. A few other young men overheard his plans and asked if they could accompany him, not because they believed him about the honey but just out of boredom. So it was that four young men set off into the wilderness from the country of meat and potatoes, and none of them ever returned. The people of the country took this to be evidence of honey's non-existence and proof of the dangers of travel.

~ ~ ~

Years later a man from the country of the honey-eaters happened to pass through the country of meat and potatoes. As he conversed with some of the locals, he realized they were innocent of the joys of honey and decided to enlighten them. He offered to introduce them to a delicious new food if only they would show him where to find a beehive. When the people heard what he had in mind, they all began to laugh and mock him. "You can keep your bee shit, Stranger," they said, "we'll stick with our meat and potatoes." Bewildered and somewhat appalled, the man proceeded on his way. Honey was never heard of in that country again. 

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