Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Why PAN was the God of Sheep

Once upon a time, all the sheep in the land wanted to join the flock of the Great God PAN. This was because PAN only herded sheep that produced lovely, much-coveted fleece, for which the biggest wool merchants spent much coin. Sheep that had never been sheared especially dreamt of belonging to PAN, for they loved their wool, and wished it to become much-coveted, too.

PAN was not interested in all the sheep in the land. They were always hanging around and baaing "Look at my fleece!" when their wool looked mostly rough or shabby. Some didn't even have a full fleece grown. PAN's flock already brought in much acclaim and coin, and there was plenty of wool on the market; why should he waste his time on a bunch of substandard, sad little wannabes?

Then one day PAN noticed there were like 8000 of them hanging around his pens, and a voice inside him whispered, There's gotta be more than one way to fleece a sheep.

PAN talked to his flock, and then appeared before the multitude. He announced that he would permit some of them to enter his pen. There were conditions, however: the qualifying sheep must first sell, on her own, a full fleece. The fleece had to be bought at market by an approved wool merchant. When proof of the sale was delivered, then, and only then, would the sheep be admitted to PAN's pen.

Many of the sheep swooned with delight. Many more rushed off to get their butts sheared and peddle some wool.

It was not easy for a naked, sheperdless sheep to sell a fleece at market, but at last a small group succeeded. These lucky fewe rushed back to PAN, who examined the paperwork closely before he opened the gate into his pen. An empty pen, as it happened, kept well away from his fine flock.

"Hold it," PAN said to a couple of black sheep. He separated them from the white sheep and pointed to a much smaller holding area separated even further from the herd. "You two get over in there in the AA pen."

After the black sheep trudged away, one of those left asked in a timid voice, "Great God PAN, we have sold our lovely fleeces. Have we not earned the right to join the lovely, much-coveted sheep over there?"

"No, I just said if you sold one you could come into my pen," PAN told her. "One lousy fleece that you sold for a few pennies does not get you preferential access." He looked into the sheep's teary eyes. "Tell you what. Every couple of months, I'll let you ladies go and stand by the fence, and listen to my fine sheep talk about their beautiful wool. Maybe you could learn something from them that will improve your fleeces. We could even call it a Fleece Conference. I will have to charge you for listening, of course."

"That would be wonderful!" all the little sheep said.

Over in the AA pen, the black sheep looked at her sister. "How much you wanna bet that white man comes over and tells us we only get to stand next to this fence right here and listen to them listening?"

"Shhh," her sister said. "I can't hear him."

One of the little sheep asked PAN, "But, Great God PAN, when will we be permitted to actually join the herd?"

"Not until you sell more fleeces," PAN warned. "A lot more."

"Will you help us?" the sheep pleaded. "Will you be our advocate, and help us find wool agents, and teach us how to keep our accounts and pay taxes and so forth?"

"Sure, but you know, you sold the first one all by yourselves, so I'm sure you can handle it." PAN gestured toward his flock. "By the way, while you're standing over there during the Fleece Conference, you're not to actually bother my fine sheep. Don't talk to them, don't touch them, and don't breathe on them. They're busy growing their far superior fleeces and you might disturb their artistic process."

"We won't," the sheep promised, terrified at the prospect of offending the lovely and much-coveted.

"Oh, and you should definitely buy as many of their fleeces as you can afford," PAN advised them. "As soon as they hit the market. Talk about them with your friends, start Fan Fleece sites on the Internet, that kind of thing. My fine flock works hard and they need your support. I'll ask them to sign the fleeces for you, but don't push any of your lousy wool on them, though. They have standards to maintain."

All the little sheep nodded.

"One more thing -- stay away from that lot." He nodded toward the AA pen. "Black sheep are always nothing but trouble."

"If we do all these things, and pay much coin, and obey your rules, and support your fine flock, will we be able to join them?" the sheep asked.

PAN thought about it. "No, but after I charge you the extra inner-pen dues, I'll allow you to say you're members of my flock. I'll also announce your name and that you sold a fleece during the flock's next lunch break. If you sell enough fleece and bring in enough coin, we'll talk again."

"That doesn't seem fair," one sheep cried.

"You're right," PAN said. "So I'll throw in a nice little pin to wear on your fleece. It will show all the other sheep that you belong to my flock."

"A real PAN pin!" the sheep squealed, her heart filled will joy. "Really and truly?"

"And if you're really good, I'll give you special award ribbons, too," PAN promised.

While the little sheep were swooning, overcome by the thought of award ribbons of their very own, PAN walked over to check on his fine flock, who were watching all this with much amusement.

"You're going to burn in Hades for this, PAN," one matron of the flock said.

"Only if I let in the sh/e-goats," PAN said. "So, Nora, how's the next fleece coming along?"


  1. Anonymous12:28 AM

    I have a loom... Now if I only had a spinning wheel. ;)

  2. Anonymous12:44 AM

    This ragged little sheep would like to know what PAN is an acronym for.

  3. Anonymous12:52 AM

    PAN is RWAs Published Author Network I think.

  4. Anonymous1:30 AM

    snort, chortle

    baa, baa black sheep, yo' mama ain't raised no fool
    break out of that pen and keep your damn wool

  5. ...so when does PAN tell them about the mint sauce?


  6. Anonymous8:17 AM

    What do the sheep do when PAN decides llama or alpaca produce superior fleeces?

  7. This is beautiful. Laughed my ass off. Thanks.

  8. Anonymous9:46 AM

    Thanks so much PBW. This parable cracked me up--also opened my eyes. Again.

  9. Anonymous11:18 AM


    However, this clever and amusing tale contributed to my christening the hours old new monitor.


  10. Anonymous11:38 AM

    Loved this one, Sheila. I'm still laughing--and passing it on to other people. :)

  11. Beautiful, Sheila! I'm going to be chuckling for the rest of the day! D:)

  12. Anonymous2:26 PM

    *wild applause*

    Absolutely perfect!

  13. Anonymous1:47 AM

    PBW, that made my freaking...year!


  14. abso-freakin-lutely brilliant!


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