Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

The Story of Young Adam

This is my second journal entry of the day, which is against my guidelines, but this one is fiction which means the Muse is sitting on my shoulder refusing to let me do anything else until I write this down. It's the Story of Young Adam. Or it's the story that came to me on the last day of Pinewoods to explain Young Adam. Adam is "Young Adam" because there were two Adams we needed to distinguish: Dr. Adam (PhD), the main Morris instructor, and Young Adam, the 16-year-old Morris prodigy who in some ways is Dr. Adam as a younger man reborn. Adam at 16 ranks among the best Morris dancers I've ever seen, if not the best. He is continually dancing, and talking about dancing, and thinking about dancing ("I wonder if you could have a tradition that's a both-foot tradition..."). He adds extra movements to difficult steps ("Let's add an x-caper between the leg-crosses!"). I'm told he dances in his sleep, although I haven't witnessed this.

I snagged a picture from his Facebook page to show Denise what I mean about this kid's dancing. I don't even have to point anything out here, do I?

I want Young Adam and Douglas to have a perfect-formoff. And I want to take videos and study them in very very slow motion.

How do such kids come into being? How do you find kids with this sort of focus and obsession from as young of an age as Adam started dancing? I know there are parallels in certain sports areas, like gymnastics or swimming, but Morris dancing? WTF? So maybe the question is why -- which gets me thinking about the branch of fiction, of fantasy fiction, in which the universe produces such phenomena for a reason.

So this is the Story of Young Adam...


There came a time in the history of humanity when the epidemiologists' worst-case nightmare came to pass. The H1N1 virus mutated into a spectacularly virulent form, and spread through the inhabitants of the earth. A large percentage of the human race died off, and there was fear and there was panic and there was chaos. But, in time, the virus ran its course. And all who remained took assessment, and went forward.

Miraculously, this heralded an era of unprecedented cooperation among all peoples. The desire to rebuild civilization was great, and from all the survivors of the plague they found sufficient expertise to do so. Among those who came forward were civil engineers, and computer scientists, and carpenters, and poets, and farmers. Knowledge was shared. Cities were rebuilt. The Internet was restored. It was a new world, and in so many ways a better one.

But in time, the scientists and leaders of the New Era realized something was wrong. The land was no longer sufficiently fecund. The universe appeared to be slightly tilted on its axis. Seasonal change was amiss and scattershot. The small birds did not sing merrily upon the laylum. The ale was neither good nor glorious. And so they gathered their data and they ran it through their algorithms and the entire Open Source Community cooperated to provide the processing power and what they found surprised them: The one thing that was missing, the one thing that was different from the pre-virus era, was that there was no more Morris dancing. No team retained enough surviving members to go on, and in the quest for basic survival needs following the time of chaos Morris dancing seemed small and irrelevant and unnecessary. Oh, there were a few dancers here and there who warned of dire consequences, should the Morris die off, but who believes the words of a Morris dancer?

Alas, it seemed as if it was too late. It had been too long since the timeless way of the Morris had found any time, and it seemed as if too much had been lost. Who could remember the Lichfield hey? Or the Ducklington hanky snap? Would there ever again come a time when the larks would sing melodious at the dawning of the day? All despaired of the possibility. There was sadness and sobriety.

But then -- oh glory be -- it came to pass that they discovered, among the survivors, someone who had been a young man at the time of the great dying. A man who knew, within his head, every standard Morris tradition and variant, including the rapper sword traditions. A man who was willing to carp at and criticise young dancers until they got every step exactly right. And this man was Young Adam. He was the repository, the database, the vessel in which the universe had stored the knowledge it would need.

Young Adam went a-traveling. He had to go to Bledington to teach the Bledington tradition, for it turned out this was a necessary part of the universal harmony requirement. He had to go to Eynsham to teach Eynsham, because learning Morris is an iterative process, one that requires a teacher and time. And on he went, to Stanton Harcourt, and Bucknell, and Chipping Campden, and Badby (yes, even Badby!), and Longborough. On to Kirtlington, and Ilmington, and Ducklington, and Oddington. Oh, he even made a detour to Abbot's Bromley, where the horns had lain idle for decades.

The dance returned. And the rosettes. And the tunes, the glorious tune: Orange in Bloom and Constantly Bilious and Trunkles. And the ladies remembered at Whitsun. The crops came in, The seasons were restored to order. Soon every town and village started its own set of Morris teams and the tradition ripened and spread.

Throughout the land there was much song and dance.

I told an early version of this story to Emma on the last morning of camp, and she said it was sad. But why -- I asked -- Adam gets to be King! Because there's no more Morris dancing, she said. Oh, but that's the point -- that the fable makes clear the necessity of Morris dancing.

And that's the story of Young Adam.
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