Id Est

(First serial rights belonged to theNewerYork Press).

Note to reader: This story is a rendition of an ancient Roman joke that is alleged to be the oldest joke in recorded history, though in this case the actions are set in Greece. 

{Set One}

  • A barber, a bald guy, and an absent-minded scholar go on a trip.
  • Three Greeks set out from Leuctra to Thebes. This is around the third century A.D.
  • Sometime during the early Common Era, someone who makes money by cutting hair, someone whose hair follicles have been undergoing an irreversible process of deterioration due to high amounts of dihydrotestosterone in his body, and a trained poet/historian/philosopher that nonetheless allegedly has certain cognitive impairments head north together for some reason.
  • If you’re looking for Eudemus, he isn’t here. He’s gone on a journey with Aelius and that moron Diodorus.
  • 7,318 tufts of ryegrass are trampled under the feet of three humans, who also startle twenty-three Eurasian red squirrels during their (the humans’) bout of northward travel.
  • Three terrestrial mammals engage in bipedal locomotion.
  • A homo sapien, a homo sapien, and a homo sapien move in roughly the same direction. This is on the planet earth.
  • Three composite objects change their location relative to a much larger object that they are gravitationally bound to.
  • Three objects move.
  • Three subjects verb. 

{Set Two}

  • A barber, a bald man, and a foolish scholar go on a trip and at night, they set up camp. The barber keeps first night watch. He becomes bored and shaves the sleeping scholar’s hair off to keep busy.
  • A foraging worker ant is buried under mounds of human hair.
  • The tonsor Eudemus betrays the trust of an innocent, sleeping moron for some minor amusement. He has always been a scoundrel. He impregnated his brother’s wife, they say. Why? Simple boredom. This is human nature.
  • Stars fill the sky. Cicadas jingle over the popping of a campfire. A bored great ape (which happens to be a barber though it isn’t a central part of its identity) pulls out a thin piece of bronze, sharpens it with a special stone, and shaves the head of another great ape (which prefers to think of itself as a soul). The head becomes bare and pale like a mountain peak.
  • Two men explore the dreamworld. One flies through the celestial spheres. The other slurps milk out of a belly button.
  • As rosy-fingered Dusk soaks finally into Night, the barber gnashes his teeth. “Why, Fate, dost thou even now wish to torture me, a mortal?” He cries, “One long doomed to an unremarkable death, a life in the tonstrinae or agora baths, trimming hair and nails? Is this where Fate finds purpose in life made meek? Do it, then; but I shall rebel in kind. As Dionysus let King Midas’ cup overflow, so I, Fate’s cup, shall overflow tonight.” At this, he pulls out his razor and begins to cut.
  • Crackle, click, snore, snip.
  • Wait for brainwave frequencies to fall between 0.5-4 hertz. The subject is now in a deep sleep. Sharp metal is then applied to the filamentous biomaterial like so. In so doing, about 110,000 fibrous strands of this material, each with an average radius of about fifty millionths of a meter, should be separated into two or more pieces.

{Set Three}

  • Later, the barber wakes up the absent minded scholar, for it is the scholar’s turn to keep watch. The scholar feels his own head and says, “That stupid barber. He awoke the bald man instead of myself.”
  • The true bald man remains sleeping, quietly sad that his only function in this story is to set up a punch line. He yearns, above all else, to matter.
  • The ultimately uninfluential philosopher Diodorus of Thebes, upon being awoken at an unusual hour with his hair missing, makes some fundamental metaphysical mistakes about his identity.
  • In a poorly thought out realm of formal abstraction, the universal property of baldness gobbles up another soul.
  • The sun, undisturbed, hovers around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • That stupid barber. He awoke the bald man instead of myself.

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