Tress and Antipathy
It was the beginning of the third fiscal year of King Nickel's reign of Talumberia. He stood up at his balcony and looked down at the people. "People, people. Welcome to a glorious new year. With this new year comes some new changes. I have revised some of the laws." The people grew anxious. Perhaps the king was about to repeal the silly money law.
"The no carrying of money rule is still in effect." The people groaned. "I know you all appreciate that great law. It has made my life easier. That's why I have introduced several new laws to help you in your daily lives. First, I have repealed the ban on facial hair. I myself have grown a beard, and I like it."
The men were pleased. "Maybe he is not such a tyrannical fascist after all," one man said.
"Second, I have added to the hair covering rule for the women. As you know, women may not show their hair in public. Before today, the punishment was a fine of twenty silvers. My scribe forgot to remind me of the addition of the money rule, so this posed a slight problem. However, I have come up with a solution. Any woman caught with no head covering shall be taken to the castle and be forced to wear a robe made from a Talumberia banner for the rest of her life." The women gasped. "Now, to christen this new decree, join me in the Litany to Unpretentiousness."
The song went for ten minutes. There were six new verses this year. The people noticed the hymn was longer every year. "Ah, I have been inspired." The king emotionally looked down at his podium for a moment. "Now, for the final rule. I have noticed some affection being displayed freely in the streets. I have seen couples even…" he searched for the proper word, "kissing in the streets! There is no place in Talumberia for love! Anyone caught displaying any kind of affection, this includes touching of any kind, shall spend one year in the Talumberia Royal Dungeon." The people murmured. These were certainly harsh laws. "I think that is all the laws I have for you today. Now go, and obey all my laws!"
It was a few days after the decrees were made when several women were walking through the market place. "Hey, look at that poster," one of them pointed. The poster was a drawing of a woman wearing a robe made from a banner of Talumberia. She was crying. Under the picture it said, "Do not be like Jane. Obey the laws."
"That is so silly. Why does it matter at all whether we cover our heads or not," one woman said. "I know. What if it is a hot day?" another woman complained. "My son could not even propose to his beloved because it is against the laws now! I cannot even hold hands with my husband!" said another woman. "We should complain about all these terrible laws," said the first woman.
King Nickel was sitting on his throne gazing at diamond covered orb on the end of his scepter. His attendant entered the room. "Sir, there is a group of women here to see you," he said.
"What? A group of women here to see me?" The king was pleased.
"They are here to complain about some, I believe they said, unfair laws."
"Unfair laws? What unfair laws? Eh, they must be a bunch of crazy old hags. Send them in."
The women walked forward. "Sir, we do not believe that some of the laws you have decreed are fair."
"Oh, really. What laws would those be?" the king asked.
"The ban on the display of affection, and the law about the head covering."
"You know, you are the only ones who have complained. All the other women enjoy wearing head coverings and not interacting with men," the king explained. "You women should just accept the laws."
"They are stupid laws!" one of the women exclaimed.
The king frowned at her for a moment. "Do you know how I became king?"
"We certainly did not have any say in it," another woman said.
"Of course you did not! I was divinely ordained to be king! What I say becomes law, and that law is perfect! You are just ignorant, narrow-minded peasants. Now get out!"
That night, King Nickel was sitting in his bed. "Perhaps I should address the people and explain to them my laws and see why some are unhappy. No, only the women. The men are happy with their beards. There is no use on taking a chance of getting them unhappy too," the king thought to himself. "Yes. That is a good idea. In fact, I do not need to address them myself. I'll get one of my aids to do it for me. Yes. Tis a good idea." He rolled over and went to sleep.
The next day, the women were gathered under the king's balcony, and his aid walked out to address the women. "You all know the king's laws, and you all are expected to follow them. Now, are there any questions?" The women were shocked. They had expected to talk with the king! The king was not even there. Instead, one of his aids was answering their questions. They did not have questions.
That night, the king was looking over what his scribes had written down. He had ordered his scribes to copy down everything that was said, and then summarize what had happened, so that he would not have to read over the whole document. "It seems that the women do not like the hair-covering rule," the king observed. "They say they would rather be forced to wear strict official Talumberia clothes," the king thought to himself after reading the document informing him what had happened. "And all this time I thought they wanted to be able to show their hair, like a bunch of moral-less foreigners," the king thought as he smiled. "Very well then," he said aloud. "I shall get my royal couturiers to begin work on an official Talumberian dress system tomorrow."
The story in Tress and Antipathy is loosely based on the events surrounding a "no touching at all" policy between boys and girls and also the friction between students and faculty over the dress code. I wrote this to be a warning against shooting your mouth off about uniforms!