The Class Etymology: One Good Turn Deserves Another

Tony walked into the dorm room carrying the monitor with a carefully reserved look of yielding disdain look on his face. He saved the expression for occasions when Kevin persuaded him to do things he knew weren't actually wrong, but he wasn't meant to like doing all the same. Kevin, in his usual nature, consciously ignored the look but subconsciously made the decision to buy Tony something large and chocolate on a whim in the not-to-distant future, thus completing a transaction of emotional guilt and worldy goods that had been unwittingly performed hundreds, if not thousands, of times before.

"Here, give it to me" Kevin said, holding his arms out.

Tony obligingly set it into Kevin's arms and Kevin shot to the ground like a stone.

"Urg", he grunted, "perhaps you might put it on the table for me, come to think of it".

Tony set the monitor they'd found next to the dumpsters behind the BioPsych building on the desk, and Kevin got to his feet rubbing his back.

"Kevin, I don't think we should have taken it. I know it was next to the garbage, but all the same.." Tony begun.

"Tony, it was IN the garbage, they probably just got a newer version in. There's nothing wrong with us taking trash. We're actually getting some more value out of the University's money, if you want to look at it that way" Kevin replied, taking a screwdriver out of the desk drawer.

"Perhaps" Tony said, "though if they're throwing it away, why-"

"I can fix it" Kevin replied, prising the cover off and hooking a lead from the monitor to his computer tower. "Anyway, take it easy, a little criminal record could be just the thing to liven you up a little. You'd be the black sheep of the family" he teased, with a supercilious grin.

"Well, for that matter" Tony said matter-of-factly as he folded his arms, "I wouldn't be the first family member to spend a night in the cells, you know."

"Oh?" Kevin asked, genuinely intrigued. Persiflage was great for keeping your mind on menial tasks, but this was something else entirely. Distracting, even. Kevin set the screwdriver back on the desk. "Tell me more".

Tony got defensive. "I'd better go and have my shower".

"Later" Kevin said, using his soothing voice. "Come on, tell me. I might as well know. I'm your best friend, you know I won't-"

"Okay" Tony said. "I'll tell you, and then I have my shower".

Kevin nodded at the 'compromise' and made a faint smile. "So? Who's the jailbird?"

"It was my mother, actually" Tony said, with a faint note of embarrassment. "Indecent assault. She hoofed Farmer Brown in the chest, winded him something awful. He was okay, and they dropped the charges, but the whole matter's taught the family one thing". Tony gazed out a window with a thoughtful look.

"What's the one thing?" Kevin asked, curiously.

"My mother was a farm cow" Tony begun, obviously deciding the beginning was the best place to start the story. "It was a decent, quiet lot. It was just days grazing slowly at the pasture, meandering occasionally to the stream to drink the cool waters therein. It was a paradise for her, and all that was expected in exchange was a bucket of milk each day. Not unreasonable". Tony finished.

"Especially since it's the natural process" Kevin commented, "might as well do something with the milk, in her case, pay the rent".

Tony smiled at the thought of her 'paying the rent' with milk. "Anyway" he said, "things went fine for quite some time. Farmer Brown was a gentle, calm man whose daily routine was no more hectic than Mom's. He always addressed her in the politest of voices each morning, enquiring after her health and the general state of affairs, only proceeding onto the matter of collecting the milk when she was ready - and even then, he modestly asked her permission and did so in such a kind and gentle manner that her one chore became a serene pleasure in itself. Then he was off to collect eggs from the chickens and wool from the sheep.."

"Rent and rent" Kevin commented.

"Yes, rent and rent, as you call it, he collected those too, but he never moved faster than a slow stroll and his face was the very picture of tranquility. It really was Heaven" he finished, "until It arrvied".

"It?" Kevin asked.

"One of those "Simplify Your Life" brochures. I guess it's kind of ironic, but the real downfall in this story, if there's to be a single thing to be held to blame, it would be the brochure".

"Hmm" Kevin said quietly, and poked inside the shell of the monitor, looking at the loose wires.

"Instead of throwing the brochure away without a second thought, given how simple and idyllic his life was, the fool read it, and worse still, took the ideas contained therein entirely on board".

"Don't see how that could affect things" Kevin mumbled, sticking a loose wire back onto a connector.

"Well, the brochure's guide to time management informed the farmer how much more free time he could have if he combined multiple tasks"

"Sounds fine" Kevin said, checking the wire he was about to touch wasn't earthed.

"Well, that's what Mikey does" Tony replied, "and do you see him being serene and of simplified lifestyle?"

"Point taken" Kevin muttered, and took some duct-tape out of the drawer.

"Anyway, he first tried to combine plowing the field with rounding up the sheep. That didn't work very well, given he could only drive the tractor in straight slow lines, and sheep don't tend to notice they're being chased if the thing pursuing them takes 40 minutes to arrive"

"Tch" Kevin said, securing a conductor in place with tape.

"Then, he tried to combine sheep shearing with egg collecting, and placed all the chickens on one side of him and all the sheep on the other, a basket in one hand and the shears in the other".

"Ooh" Kevin said, making a slight grimace at the thought.

"Yes, a few chickens had cold nights and punk haircuts. It's just as well he didn't try to use the basket". Tony added, turning to gaze out the window again.

"And your mother?" Kevin asked, fitting the front to the monitor back on for a test-run of its capabilities.

"The worst instance of the lot. Farmer Brown figured the time taken collecting the milk and then converting the milk to butter later was the greatest waste of all, so he was more ... direct" Tony said, tactfully.

"Direct, you say" Kevin said, brow furrowed deep in thought as he booted the computer tower.

"To put it plainly" Tony continued, "he waltzed into the barn without the slightest hello and wrenched Mom straight on the teat in a circular motion, hoping for pure butter. What he got was a surprised hoof to the chest, knocking him onto his back and teaching him the consequences of a more fast-paced lifestyle".

Kevin burst out laughing at the thought of the farmer's 'assault' on Tony's mother followed by her 'assault' on him. His face slowly brightened with the faint reflected luminence of a now-working monitor screen.

"And so they slapped an assault charge on her which the farmer no doubt had dropped because he'd realised the error of his ways, and life on the farm returned to it's traditional slow and polite ways" he said, smirking at Tony, "what's the one rule your family learnt? To ask nicely before touching up yer Mom?" he added, grinning wickedly.

Tony scowled slightly and opened the door, towel in hand.

"Not that" he replied, rolling his eyes.

Kevin looked puzzled. "What then?"

"One rude churn disturbs an udder" Tony replied, and walked off to his shower.

nslashk // first posted 01-21-2002 01:07 PM PT