Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Hoity-Toity Meet the Hoi Polloi

It's time for another epic! Well, an epic compared to the scope of most of my short stories. Read on, and learn about creatures you could never imagine. Until now.

            This is a sad story.  That’s the truth.  I just wanted to get that out there before you got your expectations up.  Still, it might be funny.  But the humor will only serve to distract from the overarching melancholy.  It’s more melancholy that a colic melon.  And that’s saying a lot.
            But this is also a happy story.  What, you thought tales could only contain one emotion?  That’s flat of you.  Well this yarn is just as happy as it is sad.  You might even say that, overall, it’s medium.
            Enough about abstract emotions for a plot that you don’t even know and characters to whom you haven’t been introduced.  Let’s get into the nitty-gritty, also known as the actual story:
            The Hoity-Toity were an unusual species.  They were yellow-bodied, red-armed, blue-tongued, and green-eared.  Their necks reached up into the sky, but their hands barely left their shoulders.  Their toes were shaped like crescent moons, and their eyes were tiny cubes.  The Hoity-Toity were full of contradictions, which they either outright ignored or ignorantly missed outright.  They walked with their noses perpetually high in the air.  Some think they did this because they could be snooty and stuck up, while others believe it was to aid their acute sense of smell, which even allowed them to determine the direction of due north, which greatly aided them in their travels.
            Across the Sea of Speculation, home to the ever-inquisitive Lobsters of Learning and the optimistic Belugas of Bliss, lived another peculiar species.  One can argue that all creatures are absurd in their own right, but this class of beings were truly outlandishly weird.  They were the Hoi Polloi, and they were like nothing you had ever seen.  In fact, they were like nothing anyone had seen, because no one had ever laid eyes on them before.
            The Hoi Polloi, as they had named themselves with others following suit, had two heads, one on each foot, which were attached to their arms, which came out of their bellybuttons, which were found on each kneecap, which were still normally attached to their legs, which began on the hands and connected to the head.  A pretzel might be called to mind, but those are more ordered than the Hoi Polloi physique, and tastier to boot.  They were translucent, so they took on the colors of their environment.  This was not a camouflage survival technique (as you’ll remember, nothing had ever seen them), but merely a result of nonsensical evolution.  Nonsensical evolution could explain a lot about the Hoi Polloi, such as their developed sixth sense:  the ability to perceive when autumn leaves changed colors, without the use of sight.  Despite all these unique traits, the one thing that defined them best was their self-seclusion.  As a result, they were the only ones who knew about their bizarre, see-through skin and oddly assembled bodies.  Only they knew the true them, and them were content with they.
            Unlike the Hoi Polloi, for whom it would be an understatement to say they were creatures of isolation, the Hoity-Toity were social beings at best, and needy animals at worst.  They not only enjoyed seeing and talking with other creatures, but also depended on it.  By that I mean that it was their form of sustenance:  small talk provided their vitamins, philosophical quandaries their protein, and heated debates their carbohydrates.  Without social interactions, the Hoity-Toity would perish.  They sought out diverse forms of nutrition to vary their diet, as any sensible sentient being would, so they constantly went on voyages to discover and interact with new species.  Sometimes their resulting conversations were enlightening; other times the diseases they brought killed the discovered species.  Needless to say, those discussions were never cordial.
            One day, a member of the Hoity-Toity woke up to find a large lump on its lanky neck.  After calling on the doctor, it received the report that it was suffering from dull dialogue and must seek new experiences immediately or suffer the consequences.  The diseased Hoity-Toity did not know where to go; it had already visited the Cape of Conundrum, the Peak of Paradox, the roaming Hills of Highfalutin, and even, in a fit of helplessness, the Bay of Boredom.  The doctor had no new suggestions, for those were typical places sick Hoity-Toity went to for rejuvenation with nutritious conversing.  Before they could brainstorm a new place, the doctor was called away.
            That day, the head Hoity-Toity doctor visited fifty sick fellow creatures (for reference, there were only 150 in existence), each suffering from an enflamed neck.  When your neck is seven feet long, any swelling is unbearable.  He prescribed all fifty the same cure:  fresh conversation in a novel locale.  And all complained of the same issue:  they had been everywhere and knew not where to travel next.  An emergency executive meeting of the highest-ranking Hoity-Toity was called, with the agenda to locate a suitable environment for curing a third of their population.  The leader of the moment (they randomly switched rulers every third week or so) determined that they would send the ill Hoity-Toity on a seafaring vessel to the end of the world.  If they couldn’t find compelling conversation on the journey, then they deserved to die of lack of supplies on the return trip.  Surely there was some undiscovered group that could pique their interest enough to provide essential nutrition.
            Within the week, the fifty bored Hoity-Toity crammed themselves onto a boat and set sail for the world’s farthest reaches.  Salvation could not come soon enough for them.
            The opposite could be said for the Hoi Polloi.  They were content to be known by only their own kind.  It might be boring at times, but it was safe.  For these benevolent, physically twisted creatures, safety was the top priority.  Fortunately, this was easy to maintain since they did not ever come in contact with anyone else.  The only causes of death in the Hoi Polloi community were old age, the occasional rockslide, a rare lightning strike, and boredom.  Despite this last fatal reminder of mortality, they still viewed tedium as a necessary evil.  If a few of them died each year from ennui, there were countless others who survived only because of the monotonous nature of their lives.  Their knees might be connected to their bellybuttons, but they still knew that the path to safety was staying where they were.
Fortunately for the Hoi Polloi, they loved in-depth discussions of the nature of the world, no matter how limited their knowledge of it was.  The talked about why the moon is white (because there’s a floating disc behind it that is white; all things must be translucent since they are), why grass grows up instead of down (their deceased ancestors buried in the ground were pushing the sprouts up), and how the rain makes things wet (raindrops suck out dryness).  The Hoi Polloi were wrong about all these things, but did it matter, as long as their ideas held a consistent logic?  Either way, their philosophical thinking could not be stranger than their abnormally arranged bodies.  Everything was rational in their world; it flowed, made logical sense, and kept them safe.  The content of their lives made them content, so the Hoi Polloi did nothing.  And that was fine.
But it was not fine for the Hoity-Toity.  Their voyage across the Sea of Speculation led them past islands, bayous, fjords, and archipelagos.  Geographical wonders abounded, yet the newly appointed sailors could not find any new debate partners.  They had exhausted all conversation options, and were becoming exhausted themselves from a combination of boating and lack of sustenance.  That was when they reached the end of the world.
But it wasn’t the end of the world.  It was the home of the Hoi Polloi.  And the home of the Hoi Polloi would never be the same.
The peaceful Hoi Polloi spotted the approaching ships only moments before they docked.  They knew not what would exit these vessels, as they had never seen any other species before.  They imagined the visitors would be identical to themselves, because their minds could not process someone who looked different.  The naïve beings also hoped that the newcomers were just like them; the repercussions of something otherwise did not sound remotely appetizing.
Back with the Hoity-Toity, they were eagerly anticipating some appetizing dialogue.  A few words that would pleasurably enter their digestive tracts.  A new syntax that would provide a needed pep in their step.  The fifty sick creatures exited their boats, stretching their red limbs after their cramped journey.  They stepped onto the beach, just as the Hoi Polloi did the same.
The Hoity-Toity and the Hoi Polloi representatives froze.
They stared.
One juvenile Hoi Polloi started to move forward, but after a glare from its elders, refroze in place.
A particularly sick Hoity-Toity coughed.  It couldn’t help the urge due to a tickle in its throat.  This was the first noise they made to each other.  Not a particularly pleasant sound, but an audible signal nonetheless.  A few Hoi Polloi coughed in response.  This was followed by a grouping of Hoity-Toity coughing.  Soon, all parties were engaged in consuming coughing fits.  Was this communication?  It certainly didn’t meet the Hoity-Toity’s nutrition guidelines, but for the Hoi Polloi, this interaction was not half bad.
“Hello,” said the self-decided leader of the traveling Hoity-Toity.
The Hoi Polloi looked back confusedly.  They didn’t understand what it said.  All of the other languages of the world had merged except for the Hoi Polloi’s, since they remained isolated.  Therefore, they were ignorant of other cultures’ linguistic progression.
The head Hoity-Toity tried again.  “Greetings.”  Nothing.  “What’s up?”  Blank stares.  “Good morning.”  Even more confusion.
The Hoity-Toity huddled together and murmured to themselves.  Without a speaking partner, they certainly wouldn’t be able to meet their nutrition needs.  So much for a healthy recovery.
In the midst of their debate about how to progress, a Hoity-Toity felt a tap on its shoulder.  It turned around to see a Hoi Polloi with arms, which came out of its bellybuttons and had feet attached, outstretched.  This confusing sight was amplified by the fact that the limbs were translucent, and therefore resembled the trees in the background.  Before the Hoity-Toity could react, most likely by recoiling, the Hoi Polloi had wrapped its arms around the visitor.  This was either a hug or the friendliest self-defense move imaginable.
A hush fell across the two populations.  They waited eagerly and nervously for the next move.  Then the Hoity-Toity hugged its new companion back.  A cheer erupted from both sides of the beach.
Soon all the Hoity-Toity were pairing up with Hoi Polloi to offer embraces.  With the initial icebreaking greeting out of the way, the two species began animatedly, yet silently, gesticulating to each other.  This would have been an odd sight to any onlookers.  Two bizarre creatures wildly waving their appendages in seeming conversation.  Indeed, it was odd for those involved.  But they didn’t care, for they were each having the most engaging discussions in their lives.  Never before had they been so present, so happy, and so involved in speaking (even when the talking was tacit).
The sick Hoity-Toity began to regain the colors they had lost to their maladies.  The reds, yellows, blues, and greens of their various body parts had never looked so vivid.  The Hoi Polloi remained transparent, of course.
After further gesture-exclusive discussions about their place in the world (front and center), why the sun goes out at night (the wind blows it out), and the meaning of life (needless to say, it is an adjective), it was time for the Hoity-Toity to depart.  They were satiated with excellent, meaningful, and novel conversation.  More importantly, they were healed.  The head Hoity-Toity asked via arm motions if a Hoi Polloi representative would return on their vessel.  After some deliberation about the merits of this, the latter declined, waving its foot-tipped arms to signify that, while this interaction had been nice, they would prefer to maintain their secluded lives.  However, they extended an open invitation for the Hoity-Toity to visit again.
Saddened by their new friends’ decline, but gladdened by the possibility of another nourishing trip to the end of the world, the Hoity-Toity regrouped and boarded their seafaring vessel.  They began their return trip home with new companions behind them, stories to tell in front of them, and nutritious verbs and nouns inside in their stomachs.
They had just had the best conversations of their lives, and it was silence.

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