December 11, 2017

 

The Aser Stories 17: Point of View

 
 
 

If you're hot and thirsty, the best thing in the world is a glass of ice water. If you're stranded in the snow, you'd just as soon be having your eyebrows scorched off at the seat next to the fireplace.

One man's glory is another man's curse, the saying goes, and how true it is. What one person loves and enjoys could be a lingering hell for someone else. Walking through the marketplace in the early morning, I can see evidence of the abiding wisdom of the saying on every side. Some lizard-femmes are haggling over net bags packed with crickets for their day's main meal, while averting their eyes from the cages of chickens, which they consider to be distantly related species. A couple tradesmen hold their noses as they pass the specialty booth for orcs, who savor a certain stew made from gone-over meat.

You find the saying in just about all the languages of creatures in the world. The lizardmen say, "One man's parasite is another man's dinner," and the farmers say, "One man's fish is another man's fertilizer," and the orcs, "One man's pet is another man's polenta." Similarly, down south they say, "What waters one field floods another," (very pessimistic people there) and in the deep forest, dwarf-kids sing, "I hate the snow when it freezes my nose, I love the snow when it freezes mosquitoes."

"What suits one, spites another." Folks in the far north rely on the cold to keep their food preserved over the long, long winters there, but you get us coastal folk into that climate and it kicks up the arthritis something terrible. Put the norsemen into the eastern desert, though, and they get heatstroke if they walk from the tent to the latrine. The desert people can't stand staying in one place for more than a week at a time, and yet I've seen mountain villages where no one in them has been farther than a day's journey from where they were born.

I was watching a bunch of children playing in the puddles and mud left by last night's rain, all kinds of splashing and laughing and mudslinging going on. They were a mess, and having a great time at it. Then a coach came rumbling by, drawn by immaculately groomed white horses, gold trim on the woodwork, gleaming all over with polished wood. Purple and crimson curtains swished richly in its windows, giving glimpses of a fine and royal lady inside with a gemstone tiara in her glossy hair.

The street-players stopped and stood, gazing with awe at the beautiful horses and elaborate coach, the opulence and the shine. They looked at each other, all muddy and grimy from head to foot, and one little girl tried to wipe her hands clean as they watched the carriage go by. Someday I'll get to ride in a coach like that, you could just about hear them thinking. Someday I'll have a horse that pretty.

As the coach passed, the curtains in the back window parted, and a boy and a girl thrust their faces out to see the children in the street. They watched them there in their muddy crowd, with their homespun clothes wet to the knees, and such a look of longing was in their eyes of those noble children that you could just about hear them, too. Someday I'll get to play in the marketplace, too. Someday I'll throw mud and run in the street and laugh until I fall down.

Just think of it, a gemstone tiara first thing in the morning. Well, you know what they say: one man's palace is another man's prison.

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-06-18


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In the same series:

The Accursed
The Aser Stories: Sidelong
The Aser Stories 80: Cabin Fever
The Aser Stories 79: Just Don't Say It Before Spring
The Aser Stories 78: Judgment Call
The Aser Stories 77: "Are We There Yet?"
The Aser Stories 76: A Bone to Pick
The Aser Stories 75: Coalition Forces
The Aser Stories 74: Flying Monkeys
The Aser Stories 73: Elspeth, Ad Nauseam
The Aser Stories 072: Starve a Cold
The Aser Stories 071: House Call
The Aser Stories 70: Dinner Dates
The Aser Stories 69: Fire in the Hole
The Aser Stories 68: The Silk Fable
The Aser Stories 67: The Simple Life
The Aser Stories 66: For What You're Worth
The Aser Stories 65: Taking a Shot
The Aser Stories 64: Second Chances
The Aser Stories 63: The Second Step
The Aser Stories 63: Second Thoughts
The Aser Stories 60: Fish Story
The Aser Stories 59: Ace in the Hole
The Aser Stories 58: Knowledge is Power
The Aser Stories 57: Animal Tracks
The Aser Stories 56: Oz Can Keep Them All
The Aser Stories 55: Small Comfort
The Aser Stories 54: Letting Go
The Aser Stories 53: In a Spirit of Healing
The Aser Stories 52: Stinkin' Kids
The Aser Stories 51: No Words For It
The Aser Stories 50: The Friend in Need
The Aser Stories 49: Run for Cover
The Aser Stories 48: On the Fly
The Aser Stories 47: Just Thievery
The Aser Stories 46: Take My Shaman ... Please
The Aser Stories 45: Hot Stuff
The Aser Stories 44: Courtesy Call
The Aser Stories 43: Adding Insult to Injury
The Aser Stories 42: Natural Selection
The Aser Stories 41: Funny Business
The Aser Stories 40: Happy Endings
The Aser Stories 39: Working Dogs
The Aser Stories 38: Taking Sides
The Aser Stories 37: Dumb Animals
The Aser Stories 36: Harsh Words
The Aser Stories 35: Endangered Species
The Aser Stories 34: Common Language
The Aser Stories 33: Legal Torture
The Aser Stories 32: Whose Fault Is It?
The Aser Stories 31: Money Talks
The Aser Stories 30: The Perils of Sympathy
The Aser Stories 29: Raccoons
The Aser Stories 28: The Ghost of Garfer Miller
The Aser Stories 27: Dynamite
The Aser Stories 26: Junk Mail
The Aser Stories 25: Rose-Covered Cottages
The Aser Stories 24: Crime and Punishment
The Aser Stories 23: Image Is Everything
The Aser Stories 22: Is As Does
The Aser Stories 21: Gourmet Dining
The Aser Stories 20: Families and How They Are
The Aser Stories 19: The Difference Between Men and Women
The Aser Stories 18: On a Silver Platter
The Aser Stories 17: Point of View
The Aser Stories 16: Easy Street
The Aser Stories 15: Moguls
The Aser Stories 14: A Mile Toward Change
The Aser Stories 13: The Price of Freedom
The Aser Stories 12: A Question of Nudity
The Aser Stories 11: Rabbit From a Hat
The Aser Stories 10: Awards
The Aser Stories 09: On A Roll
The Aser Stories 08: Raising Children
The Aser Stories 07: Crosspasses Market
The Aser Stories 06: Judge, Jury, Shaman
The Aser Stories 05:Habit and Stubbornness
The Aser Stories 04: The Wrong Question
The Aser Stories 03: The Labor of Love
The Aser Stories 02: Soup du Jour
The Aser Stories 01: Popping the Big Question
The Aser Stories 40a: Customary Behavior
The Aser Stories 36a: Madly In Love
The Aser Stories 03a: Descent to the Underworld

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