I Don’t Think I’m the Woman to Blame

If you were a figure in Greek mythology, who would you be?  Are you Bacchus, a partier known for being able to hold your liquor?  Maybe Thalia, the muse of Comedy?  Would people compare you to Hercules, or would you be more like the belly goddess Baubo, who is also known as the goddess of Obscenity?

Because the ancient myths are the product of the collective psyche, the truth is that we are all a compilation of bits and pieces of these archetypes.  We can read these ancient stories and recognize friends and family members who display qualities of, say, Demeter, the Earth Mother, or Hera, the wife of Zeus who was constantly worried that he was cheating on her.

Me?  I found out today I’m an oracle.

I was researching Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance, when I came upon these words from the story of Jason and The Golden Fleece:  Beware the man with one sandal.

Those weren’t my exact words, but I prophesied the same thing a few years ago.

It was the summer of 2008.  Eight of us went to the Jimmy Buffett concert in Atlanta.  We tailgated for a good part of the afternoon, then made our way to the lawn at Lakewood (technically, it’s Hifi Buys Amphitheater, but for native Atlantans, it will always be Lakewood).  After the concert, as we were gathering our things to leave, the man I was with asked everyone in our party to look for his shoe.  We spent half an hour searching for his flip-flop, but it was nowhere to be found.  Finally, the guy threw his arms around me and another person and hopped on the foot that still had a shoe over the array of trash left on that lawn all the way across the street to the gas station parking lot for the ride home.  Our driver hadn’t shown up yet, so he sat down on the curb in a corner of the parking lot to wait. The corner was strewn with broken glass, bottle caps, and crushed cans.  He crossed his shoeless foot over the other so it didn’t touch the ground and then began to grumble about losing his favorite pair of flip-flops.  He even mentioned how expensive they’d been.

Maybe it was the margaritas talking.  Or maybe it was just a flash of brilliance.  I looked down at him and quoted a line from Jimmy Buffett’s most famous song.  Pointing at his flip-flopless foot, I said, “Hey, look, everyone!  It’s ‘blew-out-my-flip-flop-stepped-on-a-pop-top!”

The shoeless man sat stone-faced as the rest of the group laughed.  He, apparently, did not share my sense of humor.  It was the last time I ever saw him.

In the story of The Golden Fleece, the hero, Jason, is the son of Aeson, the king of Thessaly.  Aeson was overthrown by his brother, Pelias, who killed the descendants of Aeson in the coup.  But Jason, an infant at the time, was saved because his mother hid him with the centaur Chiron.  Pelias, fearful that he would one day be overthrown, sought the advice of an oracle, who warned him to beware of a man with one sandal.

As a grown man, Jason comes back to reclaim his father’s throne.  He stops to help an old woman (the goddess Hera in disguise) cross the river Anauros and loses his sandal in the river.  When Pelias sees the man with one shoe, he says, “The dead Phrixus bids us bring back the Golden Fleece and thus bring back his spirit to his home.  The oracle has spoken. . . . Do you go upon this quest, and I swear with Zeus as witness that I will give up the kingdom and the sovereign rule to you.”

The Goddesses Hera and Aphrodite help Jason by convincing Aphrodite’s son Eros (Cupid) to make the sorceress Medea fall in love with Jason so that her magic can help him.  With help from his band of heroes and Medea, Jason steals back the fleece and wins back his rightful kingdom.  Then the man with one sandal gets too big for his britches.  He finds a younger, prettier woman and dumps Medea for her.  Bent on revenge, Medea kills the new bride.  Then, fearful that her two sons will become slaves when Jason finds out, she kills her own children.  Jason comes to kill her for what she has done, but he sees Medea stepping into a chariot drawn by dragons.   The story ends with these words, “They carried her away through the air out of his sight as he cursed her, never himself, for what had come to pass.”

You see?  Never trust a man with one sandal.  Nothing is ever his own damn fault.

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