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  Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :
Opinion
Letters From North America
by Peary Perry


The Nitty Gritty of Camelot
Peary Perry
Having just watched the new movie ďArthurĒ the thought strikes me as to just how much we have evolved since the Middle Ages. I wish we had a time machine and could travel back to those days so that we might get a clearer idea and comparison of the reality of those times rather than what we have been shown by way of the movies. Iím certain things werenít as neat and nice as those old Errol Flynn swashbucklers where the men wore tights and none of the women seemed to sweat. On the other hand were they really as dirty as the current version portrays them out to be?

Our perception of events seems to be colored by the influences we are most familiar with.

Personally I think the entire Middle Ages started a struggle between men and women, which is still going on after all these years.

Stay with me here.

Itís my theory that the Middle Ages were the inspiration for the industrial revolution. Take clothing for instance. All the poor folks had to wear in those days appeared to be things made from leather or some sort of burlap. Most likely itched and were vermin infested, but hey, who cared, everybody looked the same. Everybody smelled the same. Nobody had any colored clothing except the nobility. So, you were stuck with brown or gray. Of course the obvious advantage was that the dirt and blood didnít show. I suppose there is something to be said for that. In the current movie, most of the persons involved looked as if they had several pounds of dirt and grime on them. I donít know about you, but I usually feel better when Iím clean. Is this some new phenomenon that came into being within the past couple of hundred years or what? Looks to me as if some doofus who was covered in grease and grime might have slipped into a stream or river and as a result came up clean. Wouldnít you think he might have told everyone it felt better than being dirty? Hello?

Or perhaps, Iím ahead of myself here and it wasnít a man who fell into the river at all, but a woman. The men probably didnít care about being clean and probably looked upon their built up layers of grit and grime as some sort of badge of honor. Kind of like those coffee cups they use in the Navy. The women might have determined that their clothes looked and smelled better after their accidental dunking. This must have lead to the discovery of clothes washing and routine bathing. It is possible that bathing and washing your clothes might have been the end result of a form of criminal punishment. When they used to use the dunking chair to punish people, they might have noticed that their clothes came out brighter towards the end of their watery ordeal.

ďOh, lookÖ. sister Sarahís cloak is really green!!!!Ē

No, I would suspect that women determined that clothes should be cleaner and have some color to them, which of course opened up the possibilities for dozens of new industries. The dye industry most likely came into being for that very reason. If the preachers wife had a blue dress, than everyone else wanted something in blue. How about flooring? Men were happy with dirt floors and caves for no telling how many years. It didnít matter to them, when the cave got full of trash, they just moved. Women wanted one place that they could call home, for years and years, not months and months. They wanted roots. They wanted tradition. They wanted someplace for the kids to come home to. Men wanted to hunt and fight. Clean clothes didnít help them win any battles, so what good were they? Women wanted cleaner clothes and figured out that dirt floors made their house work that much harder. Now they forced the men to put in wooden floors. This meant they needed something, which could be used to sweep, so there came the broom industry. Not satisfied with the broom, the demand pent up for more and more labor saving devices which of course, ultimately lead to the invention of electricity and then of course the vacuum cleaner. The list goes on and on. Each of these industries required more men for the work, making fewer men available for battles and war.

ďIím sorry, but I canít go with you to fight, weíre making drapes for the windows this week. What you donít have windows?Ē

By this time Iím certain you can figure out where Iím headed with this, the vacuum lead to the need for the washing machine and the dishwasher. All of these devices put thousands and thousands of people into the work force just for the singular purpose of staying clean. Amazing isnít it?

And to think that after all those years, men still canít separate the colored stuff from the whites.

© Peary Perry

Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com
July 22 , 2004
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