Chapter 44:     Challenges

Transcribed from dictation, ADAM speaking--

It's starting to get dark out there.  Guess I've been talking for
hours, the megabytes of .WAV data are stacking up.  

My plan was to just record a short synopsis of it all, spend some 
time playing guitar to warm up my musical skills and be out of here 
by morning.  I've got a two-day hike to the Kha-rat ahead of me, 
better not cut it too close.  But I don't seem to be able to tell 
the short version.  

But it feels like this is exactly where I should be right now and 
this is what I should be doing.  In telling this story I've been 
running everything I know through my head, structuring it all. I 
feel the flow of my haka as I talk even now, recognizing Words of 
Power I have needed to find.  I'm an Orator, so I must Orate, one 
way or another.

Dagrolyt and I practiced a little wrestling the morning before the Kha-rat, trying to tune me up for my initiation into the Mlønoli later on that evening. Actually, I didn't have to WIN at wrestling, just show the guys that I was a regular man-folk and not a wimp. Unfortunately, I WAS a wimp. However something new had entered the equation: shyøma. At first I was reluctant to come to grips with Dagrolyt because of my constant erection, caused by smelling shyøma. He was sporting his own as well, naturally, so I felt embarrassed about pressing up against him. But that was my cultural hang-up, not his. He insisted, so we wrestled with these hard-ons and I was at a worse disadvantage than ever, bending and twisting to avoid clashing swords. I didn't want him to think I was gay, you know, any more than I wanted to find out that he was. But you know what? I could feel something flowing. Yeah, well, right, you say, I'll bet! And somehow my wrestling got better the hornier I got. Haka? I couldn't tell what, but something was going on inside me. Like a flow and not just blood to a raging erection, something else. Then I threw Dagrolyt. It was an accident, of course, he wasn't really on guard against me anymore, I was so easy. But he came up on his feet with a wild smile and a cheer, "Kha-ra, ra, ra!" "When a man challenges you to Yøwø'ø it is the same as when a woman challenges you to yøramma, neither wishes to defeat you, it is only to feel your haka! You'll do okay, Dadamet, have faith!" Of course, I couldn't throw him again. Because now he was paying attention--he didn't want to make it too easy. But there did seem to be some progress, I learned some good moves and tuned my muscles up. I can't say I had faith, but decided not to worry so much about it. No one was going to kill me. Besides, I had a great excuse for being a wimp: my misspent youth among the NokhSoli. Finally it was time to go to the Senior Prom: Ma-mløt-klys, Full Moon Night. The girls had been gathering up those special little Opa-soma mushrooms for the last few days and with Dagrolyt's shoulder bag full of psychedelics, all four of us walked together to where this month's Kha-rat was being held. Since the event changes locations every month and is hosted by various Sha-hakas, it can be near or far away, but this time we could walk it in about three hours, so we left around noon. It was my third full moon among the Nokhontli, must have been about the middle of January, so the days were short. (ed: Full Moon Thursday, January 16) The snowstorm was over, but we had a dark overcast sky, so it was a cold gray landscape we crossed. But a fun trip anyway because the girls were so playful, lots of flirting and giggling. Although quietly, squatches are always quiet, but especially when they travel. As we got closer we saw other Nokhontli also heading for the same Kha-rat, but we kept our distance, not to cluster up into noisy, more noticeable groups. Sometimes I get the feeling that ALL squatch behavior is based around avoiding attention from human observers. It was just before dark when we arrived at a thickly wooded hilltop where the ceremony was to be held. Everyone was drifting in about the same time, pretty much the same crowd as at the last Kha-rat. I greeted big old Dannat and his two women, Malla and Mawa. He had evidently come from the Temple of Guilt just as fast as we had, pretty good for a big lumbering old fart. Otherwise, I didn't really know anyone personally. I was watching for young Daseh, but didn't see him. At least now that I was a socially acceptable member of the mlønoli people introduced themselves to me, especially because many of them knew my mother. So I had to hear what a great yøramma Mayala was from almost every male and sympathetic words from the women, but I didn't get the feeling that any of them really knew her very well. Few of them dared ask about my life in the Nokhso world, as if that was best forgotten. It was social small-talk while waiting for the party to begin. I noticed that there were a few children present, 3-4 of them. There probably were the previous time too, I just hadn't noticed, since they usually held their own mini Kha-rat a little distance apart. Seeing as how everyone comes to the Kha-rat, families had to bring their children as well. They had no compunctions about letting the kids watch all the fun, but there was a minimum age of participation-- being puberty, since they don't number calendar years. It was first then I came to wonder where the really old people were. I hadn't seen any; older and kind of wrinkled, sure, but not old and weak or infirm, not old and dying. But if everyone was gathered here, where were they? I wondered if they just wandered off to die when it was time, like old Indians did. But I was at the Kha-rat during the Ma-mløt-klys, which was a celebration of life and an anthropological experience, not a time to worry about old age or pension plans. I discovered that there was yet another committee member from my recent Purification ceremony who had to hurry there all the way from the "Temple of Guilt", the one woman, the Sha-haka-ma Mastinta, who was in fact our hostess for this event. Mastinta is an older but rather striking witch/Earth-mother who always lives outdoors in the weather, this hilltop was her bakhl. There were also several younger girls studying women's medicine with her, so the proportion of women to men was very high. I found myself getting quite excited about that--the shyøma was deadly by then--even though I was also pretty nervous about what was coming to speak.
There was a slight commotion before the Kha-rat began. One of the men was recognized as being kronoke, an Outcast. "Khask! Dazlask, what are you doing here?" one man called out to another in an unusually offensive tone. Dazlask was a bigger-than-usual surly-looking Nokhon. "Leave me alone, you pø! I just want to smell the shyøma." "Yeah, yeah and eat the mushrooms and screw the ladies..." the first man said. "And have the visions and everything," a woman added, obviously offended as well. "Well, why not? I'm only human!" "Outcast! Kronoke! Leave us; we don't want trouble with the Alutna!" "I won't cause any trouble," his surly face screwed up like he was about to cry, "I'm just so lonely and it is Ma-mløt-klys." Mastinta, the host Sha-haka-ma, came forward. She wore her shoulder pouch like a badge of authority, but spoke like a reasonable person. "Dazlask, you know we can't allow you to join us until your exile is over. You have three more moons to go; you'll just have to wait it out." "Three more, yes I know! I've been Kronoke for two moons and I already can't stand it anymore! Let me stay!" "The elders have sentenced you, if we let you stay we deny them and the Alutna. None of us are willing to do that. Please go." He shook a fist at her and stepped forward. "You may be Sha-haka- ma, but you're still just a woman. You can't make me go!" Four burly males stepped forward, including Dagrolyt and huge Dannat, approaching the belligerent male. He dropped his fist and stepped back right quick. "Come on, fellows," he sniveled, "what if it was you? Five moons of exile and for nothing...well, almost nothing. Five months! How can I last that long?" Dannat spoke: "Khask, what a baby-pø! Every Sha-haka has spent at least as long without Kha-rat and survived. You are only drunk on shyøma. Now leave and spare yourself the torture of smelling it. Or we must make you leave." "Then give me a woman! Just let a woman come with me, that's all. I brought my own Omun. The moon is as much mine as anyone's, I want to celebrate it." "Very well, Mastinta agreed, "if any woman here will go with you. Although she must understand that it will lose her one Kha-rat, as well as this one." Everyone was watching the scene by now, but no woman volunteered to go off with Dazlask. "Mabla! Come with me!" he called. "Skog!" Mabla answered, a large mature woman, shaking her head. "But you are my woman! You chose me!" "That was then. Now you are kronoke and I un-choose you! I'll not go with you." "Someone else, then. I'm a good strong yøramm, you'll love it." Another woman called out, teasing, "But you're only one man. Here we have so many!" "And many of them are stronger than you, Dazlask. That we know, so go!" Others, "Go, go, go!" Dazlask backed away looking pretty angry with everyone there, his erection wilting. "Pø o, mløt-ahatli!" he cursed and marched off into the forest.
It got dark; the crowd was milling, rubbing, getting itself hornier, ass-grabbing, males wrestling just for fun. Psychedelic mushrooms were being passed out. Just like the first Kha-rat I'd been to, there was chanting, while waiting for the moon to come up over the horizon. Actually it was overcast, snowing lightly, so we couldn't quite see the moon, but they knew exactly when it was time to start the party. Mastinta gave a benediction and everyone ate their magic mushrooms. Except me, the New Initiate. Oh, I was willing to, though I've never been big on recreational drugs or alcohol. Okay, we all know that I've tried a joint or two and LSD once with Pokey, but they were special occasions and not routine entertainment. Drugs screw up my words, I don't like that. But of course, this was an anthropological experience I was not about to miss out on any of it. When in shyøma, do as the Shyømans do. It takes about an hour for ingested mushrooms to have any effect, this is timed so that they don't screw up the screwing. The idea is that you yøramma as much as you can before getting too messed up to remember how to do it anymore. So everyone started copulating. Except me, again. Because I was an initiate to their community, I had to go through a Challenging first--when the girls had time to bother, that is, so once again I had to wait it out. At first I was burning with desire, all nervousness forgotten: I wanted that girl and that one and THAT one! I particularly noticed one younger woman with an especially good figure for a squatch chick and a very pretty face, so I lusted specifically after her. In fact, I became rather infatuated with her, couldn't take eyes off; found myself ignoring all the others. She took on man after man with inspiring energy and yet seemed somehow really NICE about it. I wanted meet her later on, but she was too busy to talk to just then. But it was like watching a porno video (sure, I've seen some): after five minutes it gets boring and you want to fast-forward to something more interesting. By the time the crowd wore down, so did I. Whew! Then it was time for the local news. Sha-haka-ma Mastinta, our hostess and spokesperson, was talking about people I didn't know, so I was sort of drifting until I heard her announce: "We do have a new initiate, the boy who has escaped from the Nokhsoli. He has achieved Purification and is now eligible for membership in our mlønoli. Come forth, young Dadamet." I stumbled to the center of the circle of squatting squatches, noticing that my erection was gone for the first time in days, shyøma to speak. The men questioned me first. Dannat was quick to ask me if I even spoke Nokhontli yet, even though he knew I did, but I played the game and gave an impressively well-formulated answer: "Ra," yes. Then he asked for some verses of Atli, which I could easily rattle off due to Dagrolyt's instruction in the subject. I was doing great! Another older grumpy-looking male, not a Sha-haka, was a bit more aggressive, questioning my understanding of the words I had just recited. He went after some fine points of Atli, which I was hard pressed to answer. There were lots of concepts that I wasn't aware of yet, so it was only theoretic conjecture on my part. But that's what he was asking for, so it went okay. Others were more gracious, just seeing if I had the basics of survival straight or not. Then the questions got more personal, more informal and friendly. They were interested in my story, of course, the only one like it in town. Art, remember our old "What's it like being a Sasquatch" routine we did on the college circuit? Well, I sort of modified that by reversing the situation, translating it into Nokhontli as best I could and doing a presentation. I used all the old tricks: eye contact, dramatic pauses, jokes, varying cadences, body language. I became aware that my audience was almost hypnotized, bobbing their heads to the rhythm of my words. I could tell that they were actually quite entertained, impressed even. And why not? by their standards I was probably the most professional speaker they'd ever heard. I'd been raised in a culture where the media teaches us all How To Be Entertaining. I even heard people muttering, "He really IS an Orator!" First one man, then several others, asked me to do my Myøsik-magic, that is, sing a song. Dagrolyt had predicted that they would, since many had expressed interest in that "trick I had done with my voice" at my first Kha-rat--except for fussy old Dafnat. So I had prepared a loose Nokhontli translation of "Summertime" and got that crowd to clap hands to the slow beat. It was a hit and then I was done with the questions from the men. Gold Stars for me, initiation-wise, they loved me, they really loved me. All I had to do now was deal with the women. Gulp. The Sha-haka-ma called for challengers. Both Misma and Myrøla volunteered right away, they were going to help me through it, but so did one other girl, Mastinta selected her to take me on first. And so Magga walked into my life. I was really scared. I mean, trembling even. I felt no lust at all anymore, even the shyøma seemed far away and trivial and I knew that my haka was definitely NOT flowing. Suddenly I found squatch women unappealing except for the smell and if I was immune to that, there was nothing left to turn me on. I've grown up idealizing Nokhso women, pretty girls, sexy cheerleaders, and just as unrealistically, Lissandra and Melly. Although many Nokhon women had nice faces, many are built just like the men except for huge boobs, most of them had big thick muscular hairy unsexy bodies. All I really could feel was the dread of an utter embarrassment as that woman walked toward me in the snowy moonlight. I was afraid to even look and see how ugly she might be, but had to be polite. But who I saw silhouetted dark against the white snow could only be that one young girl with the surprisingly good figure, the very one I'd been infatuated with. Small waist, very wide hips and relatively small but shapely breasts--she had a figure like a human girl. Sturdily-built and hairy, of course, but not bad, not bad at all. She stopped in front of me there in the ring of spectators and looked me up and down. Her eyes stopped for a second on my un-erect Dahk, then she gave me a questioning look, raising one eyebrow wonderingly. I looked at her face for some sort of mercy, but saw none of that, only interest, lust and a strong will. Up close I could see how pretty--no, beautiful--her face really was. But most attractive were those eyes, just radiating intelligence. She was, well: Wow! Wotta girl! She was so close to me that her own personal shyøma cut through the general musk of all those other women and it was right on my frequency. Suddenly I felt something flowing. She noticed that, touched me like a friend would, gave me a lovely smile and turned her back to me. At first I was afraid she was leaving me alone up there, but she just bent forward and presented her very nice bottom for me to take. That's how they usually do it for the public challenges. So I put my hands on her hips... Okay, no need to describe all the graphic details. Once I got going there was no problem about performing, in fact I was swept away by the experience. It was a roller-coaster ride, a wild animal inside me let loose for the first time, an apotheosis. I was astounded by what I felt, what I could do, how many times I could do it...I don't want to brag but...well, so I won't. But... But I suppose I SHOULD mention that I was also challenged by Misma and Myrøla next and worked my way through a crowd of women, including Mawa and Malla (old Dannat's women, remember them?), the Sha-haka-ma Mastinta (an older-but-terrific woman) and every other female present. Truth is, I had a really good time. it was a hellova lotta fun, until I finally wore out. Anyway, I passed that test. The ceremony went on: there was a group vision which I couldn't tune in to since I hadn't eaten the mushrooms and then they continued with the sexual free-for-all until the sun came up. I joined in until I fell asleep in a nice warm pile of horny, hairy women.

Chapter 45

Adam out of Eden