“If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.”
— Ludwig Wittgenstein
Once upon a time, there was a lush, foresty part of the world that was mostly uninhabited – except by its inhabitants. Who were people. And animals, of course. But the animals aren’t important. Well, they are, you know, for food and such, but they’re not important in this story. So save your breaths, animal-lovers. You too, treehuggers. The forest doesn’t really come into play here either. Except at the beginning. Typical of forests. Anyways, once upon a time, long ago, there a small village inside said forest. (And there you are.) and its peoples were quite lonely people. See, no one lived for miles and kilometers around this village, so they had no visitors. Oh, they had the various travelers travel through, but none worth mentioning. This village was commonly referred to as Shamallamahamallamadingdong (which means “Village” in their native tongue, which is unknown), and the people were called Shamas (which means “People”). So the Shamas were lonely, and so they had to communicate with themselves, such as sending detailed, intricate letters to their next-door neighbors or actually walking across the street. They had good exercise routines.
One day, however, they grew bored of their multiple activities (staring at the sky and such) and some of them – armed with jagged sticks (this was before pitchforks) and wooden torches (this was after fire) went complaining to the king (this was after mobs, but before information booths). The King, whose name was Llama (which means “Animal with Long Neck and Funny Face”), was a bit astonished at the mob and wondered why no one had invented information booths for them to go to. But such is life. So he had to listen to their compliant.
“We are bored!” they cried.
“That’s nice,” Llama said, distractedly. (He was staring at the sky.)
“We want something to do!” they bellowed.
“What?” Llama said, rubbing his eyes. (The sun burned.)
“Give us a new something to do!” they screeched.
“Hmm? Oh, yeah. Sure. Um…” Llama hesitated. (This was before games, by the way, so don’t blame Llama for hesitating. He didn’t have much to go on.)
But Llama was actually quite smart (he was the King, you know), and so after a couple hours of intense thought (and a few sessions of sky-staring), he came up with a brilliant idea. So, waking the Shamas up (they had fallen asleep at his throne), he proclaimed very loudly (this was before megaphones):
“Yes, Llama?” they called back sleepily. (They were an obedient bunch.)
“I have had a thought. This is my thought: You have complained of your boredom, right?” – here he paused for dramatic effect – “So I, as your magnificent King, have come up with a idea to fix your problem!” He beamed at them.
After a long, awkward silence, Llama cleared his throat (it was rather dry now) and continued:
“Yes, well, anyways. I have come up with some activities for you all to do! They will be put together in a racing sort of way with teams of some sort.” (The Shamas had heard of teams of course [this being after teams] but they could never remember what they were for, only that “i” wasn’t in it. Well, now they knew.)
“There will be three activities (in my honor of course),” – he smiled toothily – “and thus, you will be satisfied and not bored anymore!”
The Shamas cheered at this, and set about busily to get started with the King’s ideas.
The first thing they did was shove some tents (this was after tents, but before apartments) out of the way (they were only their houses, after all) to make a lot of room. Then they divided up into teams (directed by Llama) and waited for instructions.
Oh, they had a lot of fun that day. So much that it would be impossible to describe it all here. Seriously. Too much information and all. But, there were a few things they did that deserve some sort of mention.
There was something about hopping, but it wasn’t because it was something else without hopping, but they all hopped and somehow blindfolds come into this. There was also something about metal cylinders that they stacked like blocks that eventually fell over when someone sneezed two miles down the road. (Didn’t I mention a road?) And of course, there was that thing they did where everyone got all tangled up like a knot and had to untangle themselves, but not let go. Very confusing. But it looked fun anyways.
So there you have it. How relay races (they called them that a few days later, disliking Llama’s name of “Llama’s Idea with the Shamas Running Around Real Fast and Other Various Things”) came to be. History in the making and all that good stuff.
So this is a very silly story, in which I (quite obviously) was aping the styles of William Goldman and A.A. Milne. I wrote this in high school, for a P.E. class, if you can believe it. We had to get into groups, and create a series of relays for the whole class to do. I can’t remember the three we did exactly (and the joking descriptions above aren’t terribly helpful), but I think it was something like blindfolded hopscotch, stacking soda cans into a tower, and a bizarre version of Twister. And then we – or me, for my team – had to write a story about them. I had just finished reading The Princess Bride and RE-reading Winnie-the-Pooh, so their unique, humorous styles were still fresh on my mind. This story is also part of my Portfolio.
Image by Petey21 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.