Monday, October 29, 2007

More About Foundling and the Name of SPUD

I wrote not so long ago about the "single-tater" religion of the Strugs and how their great leader, Foundling came upon the special name of the Great Potato, SPUD. Today, I will go into more detail about this remarkable, although probably legendary fellow.

This is the story of Foundling.

He was called Foundling because he was found in a little basket floating among the reeds and taken to the court of one of the King's daughters.

He was placed in the basket because the King of Borderland had embarked upon a course of ethnic cleansing of a group of people in his dominion known as Strugs. Afraid that the increasing number of Strugs would become a challenge to his power, he declared that all boy children born to the Strugs should be strangled in their umbilical cords at birth.

But Foundling was such a pretty baby boy, the midwife couldn't bring herself to do the ugly deed demanded of her. Instead, he was placed in a little basket and sent adrift on the river. Thus it was that he came to be raised in the court of the King of Borderland.

The Strugs had first come to Borderland a hundred years before, seeking to escape the famine that had rendered their life in Holy California untenable. At first they had been welcome, but after many years, they were persecuted and reduced to what amounted to a pool of slave labor. It was during the ensuing conflicts that Foundling, now a grown man, in a moment of anger when he came upon a Borderland overseer whipping some Strug workers that he drew his sword and struck the overseer. The overseer died from the blow and Foundling hid the body in a ditch.

Afterwards, afraid that he might be arrested for this murder, Foundling fled and went into hiding in the Wilderness.

The Wilderness was a barren area in the northeast of Borderland, a wild and lonely place of barren rocks with occasional clusters of small trees, thorns and thistles. Both food and water were hard to come by in this desolate place. It was hot during the day and chill at night. Therefore, Foundling was often thirsty and faint with hunger as he thought about his life. After about a month and a half -- and tradition will have it that it was exactly 40 days -- he noticed a bush that seemed to be in flames. Strangely, although he looked at it for a while, it seemed that the fire did not consume the bush! Intrigued by this odd phenomenon, he carefully approached. When a Voice suddenly spoke to him from the bush, Foundling stopped in his tracks!

The Voice told Foundling that he was on Holy Ground and therefore should remove his sandals. He did that and, bowing in reverence, approached what seemed to him a "burning bush". The Voice announced that he was in the Presence of the Great Potato, the God of Broken Wingh, Laughing Boy and Deceiver. It was the latter who had given the descendants of Broken Wingh and Laughing Boy the name by which they are commonly known in the Third Galaxy -- Strugs.

It soon became apparent to Foundling that he was being called to a sort of Divine Job Interview. The Great Potato had decided to hire Foundling to lead his people, the Strugs, from their virtual captivity to a Land of Easy Living, their homeland, what is known in the Third Galaxy as "Holy California".

Foundling was no dummy and also a natural born negotiator, so after a lot of haggling, he got the Voice of the Great Potato to agree to a number of things:

First of all, not being a very good public speaker, in fact, he had a terrible speech impediment, the Potato allowed him to use his older brother, Rrunner, as a front man. The careful reader may well wonder how it could be that Foundling was acquainted with his brother. Since he had been, as a newborn, set adrift in a basket, adopted and raised in the royal family of the King of Borderland, a simple soul would assume his contact with his biological family was minimal. However, the answer is simple -- the Great Potato did not have a continuity expert to vet the scripts he gave his chosen people and their prophets...

Secondly, he got the Great Potato to agree to back him up so that he could do real magic tricks that really worked! Well, at least they worked good enough so that his audiences thought that they really worked. In any case the reader should know that, according to tradition, 10 portions of magic had been poured out by the Almighty upon the Third Galaxy and 9 of those portions of magic had been poured out upon Borderland! Assuming that you are not reading with your eyes closed, you will have noticed that Foundling grew up in the Royal Court of Borderland. If you have the slightest cynical inclination, you will assume, correctly, that all practicing magicians with any skill would naturally gravitate towards the Royal Court...

Finally, after much haggling, Foundling got the Great Potato to give him a name by which to call him. This is very important in all dealings with gods -- and demons for that matter. With gods, a name is sort of like a phone number, without it, you have to wait until the god calls you. Of course, is the case of the Great Potato in the Third Galaxy, we are not talking about a god, but God, the creator of the Third Galaxy -- at least that is what is always printed on His Calling Cards -- therefore his name is not a name, but a Name. And the Name was -- SPUD.

SPUD, is a rather clever play on words, by the way -- actually, I can't call it a play on words because that would imply somebody, Foundling perhaps, had made it up. Still, it cannot not be denied that, in the language of the Strugs, SPUD is what one would think was a present, past and future form of the verb "to be" all mixed together. Of course, since the Name was given to Foundling by the Great Potato, such speculation is meaningless -- still, that is what it would seem to be if one dared to think about it without care or fear of stray lightning bolts from the Great Colander in the Sky for daring to think about it.

No comments: