palaver (pa-LAH-ver), noun
A rambling, meandering stream-of-consciousness conversation spoken to prove or make a point.
“How shall I make the greatest being on Earth?” Zeus asked his children. “How might perfection take but one single form? I want to know your creativity.”
Zeus peered across the chattering circle of gods and goddesses at Olympus Hall. Everyone eloquently prepared to put forth his or her preference.
“Athena, we will start with you,” said Zeus. Athena stood up, holding her long bow like a staff.
“The Earth below,” she began, “is perfectly silent. The only sounds are that of trees rustled by wind. When the wind is calm, one can hear the plants grow and the rocks crumble. A perfectly silent being would be the greatest being in Earth. One with four legs who can jump and stride, whose ears are prominent to catch all the subtleties of the Nature you created. It would be the perfect match for my bow and arrow. The animal would be dear to me and we all will enjoy a war fought in silence for pleasure and game.”
Artemis and Apollo murmured in approval.
“Thank you Athena,” Zeus nodded his head to all three of his children, noting their agreement.
“Ares, how about you my boy?”
“A perfect being would have but one form with no extremities to hinder its movements. It can climb and swim, manage rocky cliffs as well as dessert plains. It can survive anywhere you put it on Earth. Most importantly, it will not complain for like Athena’s stag, it too will be silent. The perfect being will slither and slide. It will eat anything that is presented to it or not eat for a year. It’s power and subtly are perfectly suited to rule Earth.”
Silence engulfed the circle of gods as they looked back and forth at their brother. Demeter rose to applaud, but sat back down quickly. Zeus cleared his throat.
“Well spoken, my son. Aphrodite, what would you prefer?”
“The world you have created, Sire, is grand and ornate. Let the perfect being see the world as we see it, from above. Put feathers like Hermes on his back and let him enjoy the bounties of the sky. His feet will carry him across the cold, rich soil and his body will float him across oceans if he desires. Let him not be silent. The creaks and groans of the Earth are beautiful, but how much more beautiful would the Earth be with praising hymns? The perfect being will see how we see and love the Earth and he will sing to us in thanks every morning and every night.”
Olympus Hall erupted in applause.
“Yes,” cried Hera. “A sacred animal that we can hear and see as it rises through the skies to Mt. Olympus. It will be beautiful with turquoise and greens. Its feathers will be its crown and we will call it…”
“That’s enough!” roared Zeus. “I tire of your palaver! You may have your being, Hera, but it will not be perfect. It will resemble that of Aphrodite’s, though hers will be of pure white and it will coo her when she pleases. Hers will fly up to her with messages of gratitude. But yours Hera, yours will not fly. It will have colors so bright you will see it down on Earth and it will flash its gaudy tail at you and hold out its wings. It will beseech you like rocks screeching down the mountainside and it will ask only you Hera, why do I have these wings? You will watch it make great efforts to fly, but ten feet will never be impressive. That will be your being. And every time you see it you will know it is not perfect. And you will know that it was you who made it that way.”
The room was silent. Hephaestus, infused by smoke inhalation, coughed. Zeus’s blazing eyes seared him.
“And you, son of the anvil. What do you think?”
“Oh, I suppose,” whispered Hephaestus in a voice that boomed like distant thunder, “That a perfect being would have four legs that he could scramble across any terrain on Earth. His nose would be keen and his teeth would be sharp. He would be loyal – to you, of course – and would never leave your side. As to not disturb the perfect silence you have created, he would only give thanks once a month, when the moon is fullest and it will be a sorrowful song. Yet it will be a song of thanks that someday he may be able to join us here, but he never will.”
Hephaestus sat down. Zeus looked across this children with consternation.
“The perfect being,” he began his own palaver, “will be naked. He will not have sharp teeth nor wings on which to fly. Yes he will yearn to be with us but never will be. He will try a thousand ways to reach the gods. Through the sea and the sky, he will find the edges of the earth. He will be trapped without feathers or scales, without a nose that can smell or eyes that can see. His facilities will work, but they will be weak. He will never hear plants growing. He will be a fool. And he will be your fool! I asked for your opinions because I wanted to see what my children could invent. And you will each have your request. But I will also give you man and you will see what happens to your perfect beings when man is unleashed. So go, protect your perfect beings! You will not see how or why, you will not understand how so foolish and ill-equipped of a being will outlive yours, but he will. Yet, because I am not cruel, I will challenge you to this: Each of you may create your own perfect being. If your perfect being outlasts the one I have created, you will take my place amongst the gods.”
Zeus walked around the circle of gods and goddesses, each putting their perfect being into his outstretched hands. He stopped at Hera.
“Good luck, my Love,” he smirked as she tossed her screeching peacock into his palm. When he had collected all manner of beings, he blew his mighty breath into their miniature souls and tossed them down onto Earth.
“My the best man win,” he smiled as he leaned back in his cloudy thrown to watch the spectacle below.