Wednesday, July 9, 2008


A close college friend inserted a non-sequitor about gay Vikings into an email conversation. The following is the beginning of a Prachett-inspired story, entitled "Vlad, the Very Virile Viking".

Vikings are generally more civilized than most people realize. They have their own rich history, spanning centuries. The earliest known Viking, Leothar the First (they weren't creative with the appelations until much later), known for his twisted sense of humor (or his extremely poor vocabulary, depending on which version of the legend you subscribe to) was the first man to set foot on what he named Greenland. When questioned about the slighly incongruous name, Leothar replied that it was a small prank on all of the buggers who don't read travel brochures completely.

Several hundred years after the advent of the word 'Viking', a colony of Leothar's descendants were still eeking out a living on the eastern coast of Greenland, and cursing their ancestor for his sense of humor.

Vlad's father, Vincent the Vitrolic had gone to great lengths to instill proper behavior in his son since he was old enough to brandish a spikey-ball-on-chain-attached-to-stick. (The Viking language Voscrast has thirteen words for 'rape' and another twenty-seven for 'pillage', but remains utilitarian in all other areas.)

Vlad's earliest memories were of his mother, Shalastra the Shrewish shrieking at his father that that boy needed to learn to learn to potty in the toilet before you could properly teach him to urinate on the flaming corpses of your enemies. The fights between the two were epic, but Vincent usually won by playing the 'name' trump card.

Ten years ago, when Vlad was not yet a notch in his father's battle-ax, Shalastra had won the right to name their firstborn by winning a rather large hand of Stab-thine-Wench. Upon his firstborn son's brith, Vincent waited in anticipation to hear what the name would be. (Viking sons are traditionally named after their father's largest shortcoming as a form of cosmic insurance against genetics. Vincent's father was notoriously softspoken.) Shalastra called Vincent into the bedroom and pointed at a bundle of fur at the foot of the bed. "Say hello to Vlad the Very Virile." Even though Vlad was old enough to start asking the difficult questions, Vincent had yet to explain to his son what 'virile' really meant. (Vlad was under the impression that 'virile' was a type of French cuisine that his father was abysmal at making.)

Some would suggest that Vlad's name would have been an asset growing up, especially in a culture where youthful sexual encounters are more like Hustler than Dick and Jane. However, there was a problem.

Vlad was confused. While other boys seemed to enjoy endless games of Chase-Thine-Wench and Red-River-of-Blood, he much rather preferred creating the detailed interiors of the villages intended for sacking (v. plundering with an emphasis on carrying off the contents unharmed) practice. He was horrible at Stomp-the-Rodent (too much gore on his boots) and at the absolute bottom of his class when it came to Mandatory Naughty Activities.

In fact, about all that Vlad enjoyed about Viking education was the uniform, and anyone that looked as fetching as Vlad in the horned helmet and coordinated trousers/battle-ax combination can't be blamed for preening.

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