Love's Not Blind, but Often Bored by AborigenThe Daoists believed that life revolves around a tenuous balance of equal yetopposite forces: good vs. bad, light vs. dark, dominance vs. submission, etc.

They exemplify this balance in the yin/yang symbol common to their artdeco. For them, the forces of the world spin around each other, off-setting eachother with their polar influences yet keeping the whole of reality perfectlybalanced one way or another.

The Druids, on the other hand, believed that perfect balance equalsstagnation, that a constant back-and-forth dynamic eventually cancels itself outand reaches a terminus. To foster growth and development they throw a thirdelement into the mixture, like a rock tossed up against a spinning plate. Thebalance careens and strains to right itself, and in so doing becomes stronger,develops itself, becomes more than it once was. Three was a sacred number to theDruids and endlessly recurs throughout their culture.

Which of them was right? Who can say? A good Daoist might say both of themare right, being equal and opposing answers, whereas a Druid might suggestthere's a third option yet overlooked...

As the sun moved behind the earth, in relation to a certain midwestern cityin the United States of America, February 13th became February 14th. Valentine'sDay, named in honor of an ancient priest who wed soldiers to women against theemperor's will, and was summarily executed for this offense. This is the daypeople use to recognize and honor their love and affection for each other... orto drink themselves blind due to the lack of that love in their life. In onepart of this city a young man dozed in the arms of two cheap floozies he'dpartied with the night before; in another area, a young woman cried herself tosleep after losing this man in a heated phone conversation. Two sides of thesame Valentinian coin; the Daoist grins smugly as nature once again reaffirmshis position.

The Druid, on the other hand, indicates skyward where a very bored Goddess ofLove (of no particular culture or theology) reclines upon a pink, fluffy cloud.

Her huge, goddess-proportionate feet reach upwards into the heavens, wranglingwith stars between Her slender toes; Her brown, dredlocked hair hangs over thecloud, pinpoints of starlight glinting off the gold cuffs interspersedthroughout Her locks. Her eyes loll melodramatically and Her hands hang limp ather sides. The Goddess of Love was bored beyond all human capacity, and neededsome entertainment.

The earth rolled silently along its path, and its motion caught Her eye. Arosy aura wreathed the orb to remind Her of this special holiday. Grateful forsomething to do She scanned in closer to observe the denizens of this ball ofmud; they'd entertained Her well in the past, they might be good for a laughnow.

She observed with approval the revelry of couples in love, holding hands,toasting each other, blah-dee-blah, all that good stuff. At least people hadn'tforgotten all that over the course of the millennia. But then a soft weepingcaught Her attention, and Her gaze zoomed in towards this certain midwesterntown to observe its source.

Ashley awoke with terrible stomach cramps. It felt like someone had punchedher in the stomach with a garden rake and unceremoniously yanked her intestinesout across her bedroom. She couldn't identify the dull ache, guessing it had todo with her abdominals clenching repeatedly during her fierce crying jag theprevious night. She cursed Brad under her breath as she stumbled off to thekitchen, looking for food to assuage the terrible aching emptiness within.

Chewing Her lip, the Goddess of Love refocused her vision to include theemotional spectrum. Immediately a red line of passion drew from the anguishedyoung woman to the male slut still asleep beneath the floozies. A deep growlresonated from within Her throat and, reaching across the astral plane, Sheslowly extracted Brad's consciousness from his body. The body, of course, couldnot withstand the trauma and expired. It would be a couple more hours before thecorpse would cool enough to wake the sorority sisters, who would be thrown intoa panic and cripple themselves falling down the stairs, but that's anotherstory. No, all we're concerned with is the carriage of Brad's soul across thedozen blocks between his apartment and Ashley's, the dozing spirit cradled inthe soft palms of the Goddess of Love. It was to be the last comfort he wouldknow for quite a while.

Sitting down heavily, Ashley's firm young buttocks smacked into the cushionof the hardwood chair in her kitchen. Being that Brad had just been reincarnatedinto this cushion, as per the Goddess of Love's sensibilities, this was quite arude awakening for him. Her buttocks covered his face, in his brief flash ofconsciousness, squishing him back and forth as she settled into her chair. Hedied promptly thereafter.

Ashley, still sobbing, wiped the saline from her eyes to pour herself a bowlof Radial Oaties for breakfast. The intense longing she felt for Brad, herpartner of two and a half years, manifested as an incredible hunger welling deepwithin her, and her immediate response was to seek out comfort food. She grew upwith Radial Oaties, and listening to them ring in the bowl as she poured broughther back to the years of growing up with her family.

Being that Radial Oaties can't scream, she had no idea that Brad had beeninstantly reincarnated into one of the Oaties. Brad's bewilderment at seeingsome dozen of his brethren racing out of a large waxed paper bag and into aceramic bowl was only outdone by rolling to his side to observe an enormousex-girlfriend looming above him. Staring in shock (one of the things RadialOaties do best, besides the Dead Man's Float) he was struck by her red, puffyeyes and her case of the sniffles. Though he broke up with her to sleep withother women, Brad still missed the cute little traits she possessed. When shewas sad she would sniffle quietly and it touched his heart; even now, he wantedto wrap his arms around her and rest her head upon his shoulder until her spiritwas settled. Instead, he was jarred from his reverie by a deluge of ice-coldlow-fat milk.

Panic began to set in as his lactic landscape heaved to and fro, and the airwhooshed with the great metal spoon ripping through the atmosphere asAshley picked it up off the table. Her nipples poked at the flannel nightgownshe wore to bed, standing proudly upon modest breasts. Nipples almost as largeas he was now, he realized, staring at her chest that yet shuddered with hersobs. The great metal spoon tore through his sky and struck just to his left,scattering his compatriots across the bowl, then heaving him upwards with adozen luckless Oaties. His heart would have raced at this point, were he stillin possession of one, as the gingham patterned nightgown flew past his vision,cresting with a collar of lace, which led to Ashley's ivory neck and softjawline. Curls of chestnut hair framed the enormous head, and then her pink,full lips parted to reveal a glistening cavern of jagged ivory teeth, athrobbing tongue, and a bottomless chasm beyond. Again, screaming a silent Oatiescream, Brad was shoveled into the gaping maw, tumbling over other Oaties. Herolled over her tongue for a moment, her hundreds of papillae tickling himmercilessly, before getting himself caught between her right premolars andshattered into crumbs. Brad died instantly, again.

He was still reeling with shock when his soul was tenderly inserted into thenext Radial Oatie.

The Goddess of Love can be a wonderful friend when one pursues Her earnestlyand does credit to that which She stands for. But woe betide the fool who makesa mockery of Her church, especially when she's paying attention. Especially whenshe's bored. The entire morning went like this: Brad gets reincarnated as aparticle of cereal; Ashley eats him; Brad dies; repeat. Brad had neverexperienced such an emotionally taxing breakfast before in his life. One momenthe's floating in the milk (progressively soggier with each incarnation); thenext he's racing up towards his ex-girlfriend's sweet, sweet lips and beingdumped upon her tongue. If he was lucky he managed to remain some moments uponher tongue while all the other Oaties were dashed and mangled effortlessly. Theecho of their bodies being rent asunder thundered in his ears, as his grainybody rose and fell with every twitch of the young woman's tongue. Sometimes hewas swallowed whole, in Ashley's haste to fill up the empty space in her life.

This entailed a long, rambling descent through a satiny, quivering esophagus inpitch blackness. Sometimes it was a freefall into her stomach; sometimes he'dcatch onto the side of a slimy wall of tissue, and the next sortie of cereal andmilk would wash him off. At any rate, he ended up falling through the narrow,black passageway and land upon the corpses of those who had gone before him, theoaty mess churning in her stomach acid. That was the worst for him, to bedissolved and broken down by that slow process, and it got no easier toexperience each time he endured it.

At length Ashley finished her breakfast. Wiping her runny nose on a papernapkin, she carried her bowl to the sink and put away the Radial Oaties andmilk. As her bare feet padded heavily across the linoleum floor, she noted aslight, marginal lessening of her longing for her treacherous ex-boyfriend. Notmuch, but a little. She figured she was just full, and trotted off to thebedroom to dress for her day.

Brad's next incarnations were a bizarre pastiche of Ashley's working day. Hewas a particle of bacteria aloft in her front yard as she walked up and inhaledhim. One moment he was just floating along, staring bewilderedly at the worldpitching and keening about him; the next, he heard a rushing sound and caught abrief glimpse of Ashley's face, made-up for work, huge as a billboard andapproaching rapidly. Uttering a teeny bacterial yelp he rode a jet streamstraight up her right nostril. He was plunged into darkness as thick, coarsehair raked his body. He finally found some rest on the mucous lining of hersinus and slowly suffused himself into the tender, pink skin, when suddenly hewas surrounded by white blood cells and got the snot beat out of him. Onceagain, Brad died.

He came back as a fleck of tree bark, from the oak in Ashley's front yard.

The cellular activity was sufficient to sustain his consciousness for a fewminutes, and his life consisted of looking up to see Ashley's sneaker descendupon him, mashing him against the thin layer of ice coating the sidewalk, andfinding himself adhered to the sole of her shoe. She mashed and mangled himthrough the snow on the way to her car, pulping him a little bit more each timeshe stepped upon his tiny soul vessel. She really gave him hell, being stuck toher right shoe - she drove an automatic, and crushed him with every rapidacceleration and hasty brake. He died by the time she made it to work.

He came back as a small ball of butterscotch hard candy, and enjoyed a fewminutes of respite in a fancy cellophane wrapper. If he'd bothered to know hisex-girlfriend more intimately he might have remembered that butterscotchhappened to be her favorite flavor: she snatched him up between enormous, softfingertips as he rested in the candy dish at the receptionist's desk. Shestripped him quickly and popped him into her mouth without a second thought. Asshe greeted her coworkers and ran through her email she slowly eroded his candybody over her tongue over the next 20 minutes. Brad would've gotten dizzy andsick if he'd been in possession of a metabolism that permitted that. Instead,she jockeyed his spherical self around her mouth, rolling him off her tongueuntil he collided with the fencework of her teeth. Chips of him flew off attimes; many times he was deafened by her roaring voice as she answered phonecalls. Ultimately, however, her mighty jaws scissored open one last time and hertongue rolled him onto her molars, and his body neatly cracked in half as shepliared him to death.

He was several more bacteria after that, dying in similar ways as before.

The Goddess of Love rolled on Her pink cloud, laughing uproariously in theheavens to witness the spectacle. Sometimes She would guide Brad into a newbody; sometimes She would simply let the Fates decide in what part of her dailypath he would appear. The results were always hilarious, to Her, and She was soglad She didn't sleep in this morning.

Finally lunchtime rolled around and Ashley felt in the mood for somethinglight. She made her way to the food court next to her building and ordered asalad. Brad was never much for vegetables, she noted, and she would enjoy beingable to eat a nice salad without him commenting on how good red meat felt totear with one's teeth, how savory its juices ran over his tongue and down histhroat. She realized she began to feel much better about breaking up, though ofcourse she would miss having someone around... Still, she could certainly findsomeone better than that knuckle-dragger, couldn't she? The thought titillatedher.

Brad was still wrestling with the concept of being turned into a large leafof lettuce. He felt crippled as he realized he could no longer photosynthesize,something he never knew he needed to do before. All wondering was brought to aclose, however, as Ashley's plastic fork descended like vengeance from theheavens and speared crudely through his wide, leafy body. Agony shot through hissenses yet through the haze of pain he was able to see the familiar passage ofevents yet again: racing up past those firm, delicious breasts, past hergraceful, swanlike neck, and getting stuffed inside her hot, humid mouth. Aslettuce, his body was broken into a dozen pieces and shredded by incisors andmolars alike, and his consciousness tended to last longer in that body. Helasted slightly less in the body of black olives, slowly ground to a pulpbetween her teeth and sucked into her throat. Death was almost instant as hermerciless ivory teeth crunched his shredded carrot incarnations, but there wasso much shredded carrot that Brad lasted almost as long as the lettuce, intotal.

Finally, the salad finished, Ashley wiped the specks of Brad off the cornersof her mouth and stepped into the bathroom to floss shreds of Brad from betweenher teeth. Brad slowly began to break down and nourish her body, and he wasdazzled by the sensation of being distributed throughout multifarious bloodvessels and strained through various organs. He'd never felt closer to her inhis life, and he truly, deeply regretted not having had more to do with her -not because of the five hours of torment and punishment in her mouth, butbecause now he truly understood who she was on the inside and he wanted more ofit.

It was not to be: her body's natural processes took what they needed fromBrad and rejected the rest. It clung to the fibrous strands of Brad's otherbodies and gathered in sweet Ashley's colon. Brad slowly pulled himself togetherand formed one short, stout lump of feces, which Ashley saw fit to expel. Bradcaught one last glimpse of his ex-girlfriend's firm young ass as he was dashedinto the chilling waters and flushed into the sewer.

Yet even this was not the end; even if Ashley had had her fill of Brad,filled up the Brad-shaped hole in her life, the Goddess of Love was not done bya longshot. Brad retained his consciousness as a lump of shit and figured he wassafe now, because who ate that kind of stuff? Floating down a dark river farbeneath the city, he realized who: dozens of cockroaches and other bugs swam outto greet him, tearing his body apart and assimilating him into their ownmetabolisms, and he retained his consciousness. Those bugs spawned and broughtnew bugs into the world, and Brad was an aware part of each of them. Endlessly,maddeningly this went on, and Brad wondered if this was what it meant to finallybecome one with the universe...

The Daoists and the Druids may not agree on some large points, but they docome to meet on smaller, finer details. They know enough to respect Love.