Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Legend of the Pleiades

Once Upon a Time in a land that was far, far away . . . just how faraway was this land? Well, it was further away than the corner, but not as faraway as forever. It was as distant as tomorrow, but not quite as remote as later. In this land, which lay beyond the tall blue mountains, but not behind the clouds, there lived seven sisters.

These sisters were named, Ona, Oneida, Oni, Ondrea, Onella, Onora, and Onyekachukwu. Ona was the oldest, the most practical and pragmatic. She was the best at problem solving and figuring things out. Onyekachukwu was the youngest. She was flighty and frivolous, given to giggling and telling off-color jokes that made everyone laugh. Oneida had the voice of a lark, Oni painted marvelous pictures, Onella had read all the books in the library, Onora knew everything there was to know about numbers Ondrea fell right smack dab in the middle. She was the best at . . . well come to think of it, no one really knew what Ondrea
might be good at. People often forgot that Ondrea was there at all. If Ondrea had suddenly gone missing and they had counted themselves and only found six, they would have spent several puzzled moments feeling very blank because the missing name just would not appear in their heads. What did she look like after all? What color did she wear? It was hard to remember.

The answer was red. Each one of the sisters wore a different color. Their parents had thought this up as a good way to tell them apart. It would have been too, if they hadn’t kept forgetting which child they had assigned to which color. I will tell you, though you probably won’t remember either. Ona wore green, Oneida wore turquoise, Oni was always seen in yellow, Onella in pink, Onora in purple and laughing, giddy Onyekachukwu always wore orange.

Did you notice that Ondrea was missing? No one else ever did either.

Now, the most notable thing about these seven sisters, and, indeed, the point of this story, was that these seven sisters loved nothing in the world so much as onions. This enjoyment of onions was not just a preference, it was a passion; it went far beyond just a fondness or fancy and was closer to a madness or mania; an obsession that many people felt was slightly unbalanced. These seven sisters LOVED onions.

They loved green onions, red onions, purple onions, yellow onions and white onions. They loved Vidalias, Bermudas, Carzalias, Nu-Mex, Imperial, Maui, Hawaiian Hula and especially Walla Walla Sweets. These sisters loved onion soup, onion salad, onion quiche, onion sandwiches, onion rings, caramelized onions, grilled onions, barbecued onions, raw onions and everything in between. It is said that they even made onion margarita’s, but to ask you to believe that would be stretching your incredulity a bit farther than incredulity ought to stretch. It is quite true, however, that they were all fond of Gibsons.

They loved to listen to the Beatles White Album just to hear “Glass Onion” and they realized that onions had prescient powers.

"Onion skins very thin,
Mild winter coming in.
Onion skins very tough,
Coming winter very rough."

These sisters knew full well that the ancient Egyptians actually worshiped the onion, that the shape of the onion symbolized eternity to the Egyptians who buried onions along with their Pharaohs. The Egyptians saw eternal life in the anatomy of the onion because of its circle-within-a-circle structure. Paintings of onions appear on the inner walls of the pyramids and in the tombs of both the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom. The onion is mentioned as a funeral offering and onions are depicted on the banquet tables of the great feasts. Onions were always shown upon the altars of the Egyptian gods. I’m not going to go as far as saying that these seven sisters actually worshiped onions themselves, but there were suspicious onion shaped Objects d'Art all around their house.

The greatest dream of all of these sisters was to someday become the Payson Onion Queen and rein over the Golden Onion Days. None of them ever realized this dream, however, because Far, Far Away was just too far away from Payson. Still, in due time, as the years went by, each of these seven sisters fell in love and was married. They each walked down the aisle to the sounds of Booker T and the MG’s singing “Green Onions” carrying a bouquet of those same long steamed Green Onions. One by one, they left their parents home to set up house keeping, taking with them their onion statues, framed portraits of famous onions and samplers that they had cross stitched with such messages as:

"I will not move my army without onions!"
~ Ulysses S. Grant ~

"Life is like an onion.
You peel it off one layer at a time;
And sometimes you weep."
~ Carl Sandburg ~

"Mine eyes smell onions: I shall weep anon."
~ William Shakespeare ~

"If you hear an onion ring, answer it."
~ Anonymous ~

They also took all their favorite recipes. There was one thing that could always be said with great truth and gusto: the Onion sisters were good cooks. Each husband counted himself lucky and smiled upon by good fortune. At the beginning.

As the years went on, however, it became evident that the sisters passion for onions was not waning or weakening, but only growing stronger. All of their husbands began, in subtle ways, to become restless and discontented. They initially claimed that it had to do with being sick and tired of every meal they were served being full to brimming with onions.

They also let it be known, through insidiously dropped hints, that their unhappiness had to do with . . . well, we might as well come right out and say it: olfactory offenses. They slyly spread the rumor far and wide that they were all suffering and sad because of smells.

The sisters, of course, knew that this was piffle and poppycock; trash and twaddle; bilge, blather and balderdash. Though it was a closely guarded secret, each of these seven sisters was the possessor of the deep, hidden mystery of the Knife’s Templar. This clandestine key is known to few on earth now, but these seven sisters were all initiates of this secret sect and recipients of it’s shrouded alchemical knowledge.

You all know the story. It is told that once Woman had the unmitigated gall to assume she could handle Knowledge. Accordingly, she took a whomping big bite right out of the Onion of Knowledge. Of course she was eternally punished for her presumptuousness. She was immediately expelled from the Garden of Onion. A Great Voice was heard to speak, saying: “With weeping will she chop now. In sorrow and flowing tears, will woman bring forth the onion.”

Everyone knows this story, but not everyone knows the secret story which tells how the alchemy of tears can be altered, the vale of weeping averted, the tale that tells how an onion can be chopped without it’s sulfuric compounds being released into the air. This is hidden knowledge. This is the mystery.

This mystery, along with a specific ritual, was gifted to mankind soon after the dawn of time by Raptor Spirit, the Great Papa Falcon. It had been handed down in secret for generations upon generations. I will tell you the mystery and the secret ritual, though it’s possible I may have to kill you afterward.

The first part of the mystery is held in three words. These secret words are accomplished as the first feat. In beginning, the initiate holds The Orb toward the moon and chants these words: “Chill. The. Onion.” The initiate then does exactly this, under cover of night.

After secretly accomplishing the first feat, the second feat is begun. The initiate performing the ritual holds a knife up sidewards and lifting it carefully against their nose in salute, chants the second part of the mystery. “Never. Cut. The. Root. End!”

Firmly grasping the onion, the initiate slices slice off the tip opposite from the root end. They then slice the side of the next layer and peel back to form a handle over the root stub.

By using this ritual and remembering the mystery, the sulfuric compounds are held in check, though Knowledge be attained, the initiate will not be overcome with tears. Thank you, Oh Ancient Falcon, whose spirit still flies the skies of the Over World.

And, as for the contemptible innuendo that these husbands were discomforted, confound or chagrined because of onion breath, well that is simply stuff and nonsense. All of these sisters had grown up knowing the secret of dispelling onion breath. It wasn’t something that they broadcast far and wide, but certainly they didn’t eat all that parsley just to turn their teeth green.

No, the sad truth, in the end, was that all seven husbands were jealous. None of them would ever have admitted that they were stabbed to the heart by envy when they saw the way their wives looked upon an onion, but that, in the end, was the truth.

What happened was not meant to happen. The final outcome was not what they had planned. None of them really wanted to lose their wives, they merely wanted what husbands have wanted from time immortal: They wanted exactly what they wanted, exactly the way they wanted it, exactly when they wanted it. And what they wanted, in this case, was for their wives to give up onions. That was what was behind it all. All seven husbands really believed that their wives would come home repentant, remorseful, regretful and without onion. They expected their wives to be so penitent that none of them would ever think about another onion, touch another onion, or smile that special smile at another onion . . .

They planned it together and all struck at once. The sisters had been at their parents home celebrating their mother’s birthday. (Onions really add a whole new dimension to the concept of a Layer Cake.) At the end of the evening, when each sister arrived at her own front door, she found that front door locked. All of the locks had been changed. Each of them found a note bearing slightly differing wordings of “I’ve had it with you and your onions. Don’t come back.”

The youngest husband, married to Onyekachukwu, the youngest sister, had written “Get out and stay there!” Onyekachukwu, in her orange party dress, squinted at the note. “What a dork,” she muttered, “I already AM out.”

I repeat that the outcome that came out in the end was not at all what the husbands had planned. Despite some of them having been married for many years, these men didn’t know these women at all. Unfortunately, this is a rather common state of affairs, regardless of onions.

It didn’t take long for all seven sisters to rendevous at their parents house once again. Their father had to be forcibly disarmed and they had to feed him quite a lot of homebrew before he feel asleep still muttering dire threats that were quite sincere. Their mother was very calm as she announced quietly, “they’ll be sorry.”

“They will indeed,” sighed Ona, “as soon as they figure out that we’ve taken them at their word and we are not coming back.”
“Well, that too,” said their mother, “but I was speaking specifically about the spiders eternally crawling on their skin, the slimy creatures they will keep finding in their under shorts . . .”
“Mother!” cried Oneida, “no spells! Remember just a little while ago, you promised not to cast any more spells?”
Their mother smiled happily at a spider on the ceiling. “They can buy buckets full of Viagra if they want, it won’t do any good. It will never do any good . . .”
Ona patted her mothers hand. “That’s fine mom. Have at it.” She addressed her sisters, “Well? Where are we going?”
“Away,” said Oni vaguely.
“Far away,” said Onella definitely.
“ . . . a galaxy far, far away,” said Ondrea.
“Yes!” laughed Onyekachukwu. “I get Han Solo.”
“I’m serious,” said Ondrea, softly.
It was suddenly completely silent around the table which held the crumbling remains of an Onion Layer Cake.

The seven men were, indeed, soon very sorry. Though they never told anyone, even each other, about the spiders, slimy things and buckets of useless Viagra, they did openly repent the way they had treated their wives. In their loneliness, they desperately sought after their wives and begged them, again and again, to come home, but it was all in vain.

Ona’s old VW bus had last been seen taking a sharp right at Orion the Hunter. Before too much longer there was a new cluster of stars blazing in the night sky. From out of that cluster, seven stars burned especially brightly; radiant, round and golden, glittering like glistening onions in the dark night sky.

There is a legend that says you should always look straight at those seven spectacular stars they call the Pleiades. You must look at them openly, frankly and honestly. The legend says that if you look directly at them without blinking, you will see colors: Ona in green, Oneida in turquoise, Oni in yellow, Onella in pink, Onora in purple and laughing, giddy Onyekachukwu eternally in orange.

Did you notice anyone missing? Neither did anyone else.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This story is for Dilyn
May he always
Be faced
With Only

©Edwina Peterson Cross


At 8:42 PM, Blogger Believer said...

That was the goofiest, funniest legend I ever read. You have finally gone over the edge, Winnie.
Perhaps it's something in the water in Scandinavia?


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