|From the field notes of Kristin Marshall|
How No-No Got His Name
The matron told Dornaa, “Little one, this story may seem odd. It’s about a little otter who played too much.” Dornaa did think that was odd, and wondered how could any creature play too much? She pulled her blanket a little closer, and tried to ignore the little troll boy who kept pinching her and giggling. He wouldn’t stop, and finally Dornaa tweaked his big ugly ear when the matron wasn’t looking. He squawked and turned beet-red, but stopped pinching her. Dornaa felt kind of sad after that—maybe he didn’t know how to be friends? The matron shushed them both. “Do you want to hear this story?” They humbly nodded. She began.
No-No was born to play. The gods blessed him with the abilities of charm and charisma, as well as amphibious gifts: he was just as home in water as on land. His name wasn’t always No-No, though, oh no. His name was Yes-Yes, and he loved the females of his kind, a little too much perhaps. The problem was the gods had also blessed him with a wife, Maybe. Maybe was very jealous of Yes-Yes, and she had reason to be. He would kiss her, and tell her he only had eyes for her, and then in the dark of night swim off to the deep part of the pond to play with the other pretty girls. Maybe would wake up in the cold, alone, and know that Yes-Yes what out there, up to his usual tricks. She put up with it because she knew the gods have given her a special blessing, the ability to have baby Yes-Yesses. Maybe. If she could just get him home once in awhile.
The heartbreak wasn’t that he was out kissing other otter girls; the worst part was he came home so stinky! The deep part of the pond sometimes smelled like stale water. It was a nasty part of the wood, and respectable creatures should steer clear of it. Of course, any playful player such as Yes-Yes would be drawn to it like candy. He would come home, stinking of the pond, shake out his fur, and hurricane-spray thousands of stinky pond-scum drops all over Maybe! He’d tried to kiss her, to make it better, but she just curled into a ball of her own company as far away from him as she could.
Maybe could stand it no longer. She believed Yes-Yes loved her, but she needed him home. She was certain they were soul-mates, but thrown together by fate, not by choice. This dampened the spirit of romance somewhat, this arranged union. She was certain he reserved a place in his heart for her, as she for him (he wasn’t the only one who had visited the deep end of the pond…) She begged the gods for help in keeping Yes-Yes closer to home and hearth. The gods did their best to answer her pleas, for they wanted to see the babies of Yes-Yes and Maybe. But Yes-Yes would have to learn how to say “No.”
The gods knew the path Yes-Yes took to the deep end of the pond. The first night they sat a sizable feast in the middle of the road; cakes, lemon squares (Garrosh’s family recipe), and savory treats as well, mostly garlic and onions stirred with pickled herring. Delicious. By the time he got to the deep end, his breath was so bad, none of the other otters would get near him. They told him, “No, Yes-Yes, go home, and Maybe will kiss you!” Dejected, he went home to Maybe. What he didn’t know was that Maybe had followed him, and ate the same foods as he did. He didn’t smell bad to her, or she to him, so he kissed her all night.
The second night he was feeling his frisky self again, and went to go play with the girls in the deep end of the pond. The gods knew his path, but instead of a feast to tempt him, they placed a large wolf. He saw the glowing red eyes from a safe distance, and the stink of wolf all around the trees where the beast had staked his claim. The wolf loped off, and Yes-Yes made his way down the path. But some of the wolf’s territorial ‘funk’ stuck to him, and when he approach the deep end, the girls screamed and ran away in terror, afraid a wolf was coming to eat them up. Yes-Yes wandered back home. In the meantime, the wolf and Maybe, who knew of the gods’ plan, laughed at this joke, and Maybe smelled like wolf, too, so there was no fear in the kisses that night.
The third night something strange happened. Yes-Yes didn’t really want to go see what the other girls were up to in the deep end of the pond, but he felt that he couldn’t disappoint them. He lingered a bit longer with Maybe, but off he went when he thought she was asleep. By now, the gods had grown tired of Yes-Yes’s game. They decided to make this change permanent. As he walked down the path, they dug a huge pothole and filled it full of the muskiest, sweetest, thickest scent, a scent that would drive those crazy with lust only if matched by the mate. Yes-Yes dropped down in the pothole, covering himself in the odoriferous stew. The girl otters in the deep end of the pond would have nothing to do with him—the smell was permanent. No bathing, swimming, or rolling in dead leaves would get rid of the smell. The odd thing was, they didn’t smell it, they just knew he wasn’t as charismatic, or as charming, as they thought. There were boy otters made for them, and they’d have to sniff them out on their own.
Maybe smelled the same as Yes-Yes. He came home, needing only her kisses. She asked him, with unusual bluntness, if he planned on going to the deep end of the pond ever again. He kissed her again, and said, “no, no.”
The gods gave Maybe and Yes-Yes many children blessed with the spirit of playfulness, but balanced with learning when to say “No.”
The moral of the story is love should feel like play, but is worth it to work on, too; otherwise it just stinks.
Dornaa and the troll boy just looked at the matron and shrugged. They both thought it was a stupid story, full of too much kissing, and not enough toys. What else is playing unless one has toys?
Navi's story of the week: Greyhoof
Editor's Note: Mr. Snerggulls here. There may be some speculation as to whether No-No is a civet or an otter. The field notes clearly state he is an otter, but civets are known to produce a heady musk, so the fable tellers took some liberties.