Letters From North America
by Peary Perry
The Nitty Gritty of Camelot
| 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
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
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