Paos, a prehistoric Clovis culture American warrior who lived large on the land and reigned over so many women that they could not be counted, invented soap - which is Paos spelled backwards. Men called him their friend, and went to hunt with him, and baked the bread as only a man chef can bake it. Paos The Great, his story we tell.
Chapter One, or How a man conquers his fear of death
"Bend me into a pretzel, do it now Paos," said Bridgette'a, one of his uncounted women, and Paos listened as she shook and then screamed out "Now wash me, Paos. Wash me!"
Paos didn't know what she was talking about. Wash her? What did that even mean?
"Go to sleep Bridgette'a, now is not the time," Paos said, hoping that this would be enough to get him out of whatever he was in. But it wasn't.
"Wash me, Paos, please, wash me," Bridgette'a slithered over to him, rubbing something on his leg. It was some kind of stick. She wanted him to rub a stick all over her, to knock the dirt and rotting leaves off. "I've gotten into a hell of a jam here," Paos thought to himself using the clovis culture's ancient word for hell - tlayōhuatizannō pive za. He took the stick from her mud covered hands and started to knock earth and vegetable matter from her limbs.
While running the rough bark over her ("You're washing me, Pao, you're washing me!") Paos noticed that some of the stuff had ants in it. Other lumps, those of soil, clay, and pebbles, were too caked on to have any insect life, and in those areas he had to use his fingers to extract embedded pieces of fruit. He had come here for the horseplay, got that over with, and now he was stuck in something very weird. He felt like one of those bronzed idiots down at the beach.
It turned out that "washing", the art of stick scraping, was how someone in Bridgette'a caste had described it once. But almost everyone in the world just left the stuff on. Hardly anybody wanted to waste their time gouging everything off themselves, let alone be digging around on somebody else. The kind who knocked lots of it off were usually known as "dandys" and "Mice People". The most you could see of your average citizen was the color of their eyes and those two little blow holes under them. If you could count their toes they were considered "ultra sophishticates".
By the time Paos removed the jejēramijee (the ancient Clovis culture word for body paste) from Bridgette'a's skin, and saw the pile of stratified foliage, old epidermis layers, and brittle animal bones laying on the ground already attracting flies and dung beetles, he thought "There has to be a better way".
Chapter Two, or How the wild things sour
The next night he was in logs and moss with Heldergarden, a wonderful girl from the outtown he'd met on a snake hunt in the hinterlands. He'd just mocholoed her six ways to Sunday, and enjoyed every sunrise. She lay on his long-cot now, her adorable body adorned with natural things thick as cactus roots, a smile under there somewhere. The crust and moss on her was at least six beetles thick, counting the antenni. "She looks like a decomposing log," Poas thought. He'd never noticed that before. He found himself asking her "Can I dig on you?" "What?" "You know, take a stick and poke it off." "That's a new please and thank you lizard claw. You phasing? Yeah, Kinky is what it is. I've been wondering what's under some of this. Sure, go for it"
Paos went straight outside and found not one, but three sticks, with varying knobs and curvatures. He picked up a few rocks too, although he always carried his favorite stone knife. Rubbing tropical forest slime from the sticks and rocks, Paos pondered an experiment. He thought maybe he had something in mind.
So Paos knocked it off, most of it falling away in sheets that felt like turtle shell. Then for the tiny scrapings, and the hair, which were both difficult until the insects crawled away and the twitching calmed. Her hair turned out to be yellow, something like a flower or the gold clogging the river. He would never have guessed.
"You make me pretty" Heldergarden smeared, rubbing her skin like it was new egg. "Why don't we move into the clay hole together and have one of those tiny people. You say?"
Paos ran away so fast that he was clocked at a mile a minute, and Heldergarden couldn't catch him if she ran a wind-aided two miles a minute.
Chapter Three, or Cattle and bison lead the way to tiny Mary's doomsville
Alright, Paos decided. He liked them better with the stuff off. But the scraping and the digging and picking with the fingernails was just too much work. Then, inspiration came to him, as it often does, in the form of a Wood Bison
Wood Bison, giant forms of the common bison, were dropping like flies under the skill of the Clovis culture's stone spears and knives. Paos saw one fall, and the tribe swooped on it like a group of buzzards on white meat. As the bison's innards and outers were cut into easily carried pieces, Paos noticed that when his friend, Glucko, wiped some of the fat along his forehead, a bit of the stuff came off and slithered to the ground. Like a scientist on mushrooms, Paos carved a hunk of the beast's fat, and took it away to boil down in a bubbling mixture of lye and bat guano. He threw in a cattle for good measure. Then, to his surprise, when the goo cooled he had a solid! Paos carved that into palm sized pieces, grabbed one, and ran down to the river.
The river ran wild that day, and people stood around staring at it and pointing at the fish they could not reach (Paos would handle that the next week, with something he called a "pole"). Paos walked past the crowd, soaked the solid bar in the water, and rubbed it on his arm. Lo and behold, it began to foam like a saber-toothed tiger seeing a monkey with a broken leg. When he stuck his whole arm into the river the stuff rinsed away! With the bar in hand Paos raced to the nearest woman he saw, tiny Mary, threw her in the river, soaked her, rub-a-dub-dubbed the bar all over her, and soaked her again. Too long this time, for Mary drowned. But the tribesmen, whooping and hollering and "ooh!"ing so loudly that they scared the birds, sloths, and panthers from the trees, pushed each other out of the way to get a good look at the corpse. The stuff had come off, and tiny Mary was beautiful! Thus was born both the "use of soap" and - as Glecko sauntered forward and the others followed - the fine art of necrophilia.
Paos had never had a happier day.