Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Brief History of the Tiki

In the year 1856, a Slovenian explorer, one Phineas P. Levar, sought out the Grand Arch Duke and petitioned him to finance an expedition to the Indies, to discover new trade routes for valuable spices, and much needed liquid laundry soap. Levar had no idea that Christopher Columbus had set out on this very same journey in 1492 for the Spanish. All communication in Slovenia was still being handled by carrier pigeon, and this was a grossly unreliable system. As everyone knows, the Slovenian breed of carrier pigeon was only likely to carry the message over the next hill and flop to the ground, with the knowledge that it had done a tough job well, and even when the message arrived, very few people could speak pigeon.

Lucky for Levar, the Grand Arch Duke hadn’t heard of this much more famous expedition either, and agreed to finance it, provided that it didn’t cut too deeply into his “wenching” money.

Initially, Levar was going to make the expedition in a new-fangled hot air balloon, but the idea was later scrapped, as the weight of the firewood necessary to carry him and his team that far, was too much to get off the ground. Stymied by this first setback, Levar started the first Slovenian drawing to see if anyone could come up with a better idea on how to get there, and as a prize, offered the first load of liquid laundry soap brought back by the new trade route to the winner.

The winning entry was submitted by a merchant over the next hill, as the drawing was announced by Slovenian carrier pigeon, and his suggestion of a mule train was taken up immediately. The merchant who supplied the winning entry also made his living selling mules, and made a tidy sum on the whole deal.

The expedition set out to great fanfare and was followed to the edge of the country by the Grand Arch Duke’s royal band, consisting of three tubas, two lute players, and a harmonica player with asthma and a limp.

As this is a brief over view of the expedition, the trials of such an arduous trek will not be covered. Leave it to say that the going was rough. They were set upon by storms, flash-floods, infected water holes, disease, unreliable maps, poor diet, back breaking labor from morning till night, insect infestations, animal attacks (mostly being bitten by disagreeable mules), and a large shortage of sanitary napkins.

It was tough going.

Several chapters of Levar’s notes were lost in a short lived mutiny. It seems the men felt that no amount of liquid soap and spices would keep them from their homes and farms for any longer, unless Levar could come up with some decent toilet tissue. Levar, always quick on his feet, especially when fleeing an angry mob of his fellow countrymen, flung his valuable notes down, as a concession to their demands, from the top of a large fig tree.

How the expedition found it’s way to what is today, the modern state of Oman, is left as one of history’s mysteries. There Levar was faced with the daunting task of crossing the Arabian sea, but as has been seen so many times before, great man rise against impossible odds.

After failing to convince the locals to sell or rent a boat for the generous sum of fifty Tucats (the official money of Slovenia, about enough to buy one pack of cheap American gum), Levar was stricken with the idea of building a boat from the supplies that they had brought with them.

He set his men to work slaughtering the mules, which provided much needed food for his hungry men, as none of them would trust the local food of figs, dates, flat bread, pomegranates, and goat cheese. They were especially hesitant to consume anything that came from a goat, as all Slovenians at the time believed that goats were only used for bachelor parties and funerals.

They sewed the mule hides together and filled them with the flatulence that only a large meal of mule meat can provide, and sealed it with pine pitch. They tied these together and formed a crude raft. The finished boat was something less than what Levar had promised, as far as his men were concerned, and none but his faithful servant, Markus, would even attempt to board the craft.

All but one of Levar’s men abandoned him on that beach, but they promised that they would return home to Slovenia and tell the Grand Arch Duke what a good job he was doing, and that the Grand Arch Duke could expect his spices and liquid laundry soap any day now. No record exists of these men ever returning to Slovenia, and some learned historians have suggested that they settled in Saudi Arabia, making a killing with an ice cream and lemonade stand.

Levar and Markus sailed their raft for untold miles. Levar’s notes go to great lengths to tell of how they survived by their expert fishing skills alone. Apparently, Levar’s keen eye and good right arm were enough to throw Markus at passing schools of fish, where he would catch as many as he could as he knifed through the water, and that kept them well fed, though their first attempt a cooking them was a total failure, as the fire they built burnt a large hole in the center of the raft.

When questioned later on in life about his navigating skills and how they came to the south seas, by way of a short stop in Thailand (even then, the sex trade capital of the world), Levar was quoted as saying, “Go thata way fool!”.

They landed on an uncharted island, one of three in the area, and immediately set about negotiations with the local inhabitants for the liquid laundry soap that they had come so very far to procure. The chief responded that they didn’t have this mythical soap that the “outlanders” spoke of but they simply laundered their clothes by banging them on a rock down by the stream. Had the “outlanders” come so far because they didn’t have a stream, or a rock with which to bang clothes against, he wondered.

The chief, Wally by name, explained through the servant Markus, who was an excellent translator by the way, that they lived in a constant state of war with the other two local island tribes. The fighting had gone on for as long as anyone could remember. They, the Wallites, assumed that one of the other two tribes had this potion that they were so desperate to get a hold of. The potion was said to make it’s drinker find within himself a small piece of the stars that hung over them, and to feel deeply the sway of the ocean that surrounded them, and to know the wonderment of the tiki gods. Would the “outlanders” like to join them in their cause and go spy on the other two tribes to find out which one had the potion?

Levar thought about his options. It was a long way back to Slovenia, and there was no conceivable way that he and Markus could continue on in their search for liquid laundry soap without help from the natives, so in true diplomatic form, he stood, tall and grand, before the chief and his tribe, and announced a firm “Yeah…nice…”.

He and Markus ventured to the next of the trio of islands.

There they met the mighty Princess Snap. After lengthy conversations they learned that the Princess had many fruity potions, yet none of them had the fabled effect of the potion that the Wallites had spoken of. She swore that she would not rest and give her spirit over to the tiki gods, until she had found the potion that would set her fruity juices on fire, and she had given it to her people. She was suspect of the Wallites for the way they prosecuted their wars against them, but the people that she suspected the most were the McClains, the third of the island nations. They were said to have the power of the wire stripper.

So, with great gravity and flawless aplomb, Levar turned to his true boon companion, Markus, and said, “Lets check it out man”.

They ventured to the third island and there they met the mighty King John and Queen MeShell. They explain to Levar, that they too, sought out the mighty juju of the potion, but it didn’t provide the fire for fruity juices as the Snaps had said, nor did it provide the piece of the stars and sway of the ocean that the Wallites had said, but it did provide the wonderment of the tiki gods as both of them maintained, and also the ability to have the most common of music to transport you to the tiki world. The McClains had a medicine man named Doc, and he swore that the potion had something to do with the wire stripper, but anymore than that he would not confirm.

Levar, faced with this conundrum, turned to his companion for advice. They had spent so many countless months together, facing hardship after hardship, chin up, believing that the next moment would reward them for all their hard work to get this far, how could he not look to him when the only idea in his head was to find some mules and make a hot air balloon out of them that would sail them home to Slovenia?

Well, Markus thought about it.

He thought about it for a long time.

Then he turned to Levar and said, “Here’s what you need to do…”.

They got the four ruling members of the three islands together and said, “Here’s what you need to do…”.

Two days later, it was finished.

History will never acknowledge that Levar had any hand in creating a whole new culture. No college student will ever write their thesis on the work done by Phineas P. Levar, and his trusty manservant Markus. No large statue will ever be erected to them in some city park somewhere. Their Nobel Prize will go unclaimed. The world will never recognize them for the peace makers that they were.

For the three tribes united to create the magical potion that they all sought. The people gathered the ingredients, and a large pot was procured. The owner of this large pot was bought off with promises of some potion and a large container of liquid laundry soap.

Much like the American Indians, these promises were never fulfilled.

From this large pot was brewed a truly mighty juju. The final product was tasted at the new bar that had been built for this special occasion. The elixir that was drawn from the pot was different for each person.

The Wallites found the piece of the stars and the sway of the ocean that they were looking for. The Snaps found the fire for their fruity juices. The McClains played old music as if it had never been heard before and delighted in it. Doc wrote down the recipe, after many solemn words and several wavings of the wire stripper, which in the local language translates to Hotzsup.

Each found in it the wonderment of the tiki gods and was renewed.

Levar never found his liquid laundry soap and Markus never found his way back to Slovenia, but each found love in the collected tribes. Markus met a local girl named Qqwertaliessamilicic, which in translation means ”Joy, the window washer”. Levar settled down to a comfortable life of Grand Pooh-Bah and dated the princess from the distant island of Cleveburg, Patrice, to the end of his recorded history.

And to this very day, celebrations are regularly held honoring these intrepid explorers, who brought peace, love, and booze to a simple people. While the riches of the spice and soap trade eluded them, many happy songs by the natives record the wonderful times they had “putting the food away.”



  1. as per usual, a deeply intellectual and thouroughly researched piece of work from Doc. We applaud your efforts to bring forth the lost and hidden corners of Tiki world and alert the whole world to that which no one knows. Bloody brilliant. I wanna write like YOU when I grow up.

  2. You Sir, are much too kind in your praise. This was my Xmas gift to those at Tiki, and while I thank you very very much for your praise, I hardly think that writing like me, even when you do grow up, is going to garner you anything but scorn from those who know what truly great writing is all about and can spell correctly without leaning very heavily on the crutch of spell check.

    I have no true talent of my own, other than knowing who to swipe from. Douglas Adams, George Carlin, Groucho Marx, Tom T. Hall, and my brother Bill are my most plagerised authors.I simply pull myself into their respective "heads" and tell my simple, stupid little stories.

    Please, Dear and Gentle Sir, look elsewhere for your mentor. I am, at best, a cheap copy of true artists. I am the gumball machine that spits out the 25 cent Mona Lisa.

    Besides, you are much funnier than I will ever hope to be. Grow up fast, but grow up to be you, the best you you can be.



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