Copper stool. Doesn't that phrase just bring back memories?
Mostly, the phrase is a joke from a Social Studies class test gone wrong. Now, has this ever happened to you:
- You're going through a test and BAM, there’s a word scramble. You frantically try to figure out the words. You had a triple-shot Gear Grinder at the coffee shop before class, and your brain is filled with the buzzing of a hundred angry wasps. Despite the onset of caffeine toxicity most of the words are obvious to you: oaptonmaoeio is onomatopoeia, and souuctafnca is anfractuous.
- But the last item in the scramble is croepp tolos! You have never seen words like this. It is a veritable conundrum, you think, even though you have never figured out what conundrum means. You are 65.78642% sure the first word is copper, but the second word is definitely 100% stool. Or is it? The wasps in your brain are buzzing louder and louder, you can feel the pupils of your eyes vibrating, and the goggles -- they do nothing.
- Later that week when you get your test back, you find you have missed only one. What could it be? With trembling hands you flatten the test paper on your desk. With trembling eyes you scan down the questions. Of course you missed the one word-scramble you had to guess about. Oh my God, you think, it's croepp tolos! It should have been copper tools instead of copper stool. Now you remember the teacher mumbling something like "the Sumerians used copper tools to flense their xinthorps" just before Lisa Chestersoft turned around, pulled up her sweater, and flashed the back half of the classroom. You had completely forgotten the damned Sumerians and their accursed copper tools.
History of the Stool
The Sumerian invented the copper stool at the close of the second millennium BC. Using primitive copper tools they fashioned a restful, backless seat upon which they could sit and spin. Since chrome had not been invented they put a copper rim around the seat.
This, then, was the first copper stool.
The useful and comfortable seating device soon found its natural place in the bars and bistros of ancient Sumer. It was perfect for the rowdy drunks of the countryside, who loved to spin each other around and shout such primitive expletives as "Wheeeee!" and "Yaaaaay!"
But the Israelites, a dour and serious people, had little tolerance for copper stools. Indeed, the prophet Jehaphu inveighed against them, as recorded in the Book of Jehaphu.
- 1 Jehaphu 7:
- 1 So sayeth the Lord: If ye be of righteous nature then whence cometh mirth?
- 2 For lightheartedness shall be far off from you when God shall speak in your heart, and if you be righteous then the Lord shall speak in your heart, most probably in your left ventricle.
- 3 But if ye be unrighteous in the Lord, then shall mirth come upon you: for it is not of the Lord.
- 4 So if ye be of righteous nature, then whence cometh mirth?
- 5 Yea, I shall tell you whence cometh mirth: it cometh from sitting on a copper stool and spinning.
- 6 Therefore sit ye not upon the copper stool, and spinneth not, no, not even when seated upon a wicker stool or even on a plain wooden chair.
- 7 Thus it is written: thou shalt not sit and spin. Hey, are you listening? Get off that stool! DAMMIT! I swear to God, you kids haven't heard a single word I've said!
- 8 Amen.
Today the copper stool has largely given way to the chrome barstool, the wooden swivel-chair, and the Norwegian horse-hide wedgie-seat. Only in the wilds of Siberia may one still find, in some lonely saloon or kabak, a row of tarnished and old-fashioned Sumerian copper stools.