Idle Thoughts from Mt. Waas
The oldest excuses...
by Ollie Harris
May 30, 2013 | 1117 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I was listening as a man made his excuse for having fouled up. He said, “My wife wrote the wrong date on our calendar.” It flashed into my mind that I had read such an excuse before. I said to him, “That’s the oldest excuse in the book.”

He looked at me inquisitively. I said, “In Genesis, when the Lord asked Adam if he had eaten of the forbidden fruit, Adam said, ‘The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.’” To excuse his behavior, Adam blamed the woman.

Once my nose picked up the scent of the oldest excuse, it came to me that the second oldest excuse in The Book is found in this same story. After Adam blamed Eve for what he had done, the Lord turned to her and asked, “What is this that thou hast done?” Eve said, “The serpent beguiled me and I did eat.”

The Ollie Harris translation of the original Hebrew text would be a bit different from the King James translation. Where the King James translation says, “The serpent beguiled me ...” the Ollie Harris translation would most likely read, “The devil made me do it.”

So, there you have it. The oldest excuse ever made was to blame the woman. The second oldest excuse ever recorded was to blame the devil. It seems to me that little has changed from the beginning. Also, I sense the shadows of country-western music in those two excuses.

Much has been written about the concept of original sin, but I may be the first to write about original excuses. Councils of kings and clergy have convened to discuss the implications of original sin and of Eve’s role in it, but I doubt any such gathering will be called to discuss the profundities of original excuses.

The consensus of some lofty discussions is to continue to blame Eve for many of the woes of the world. But, I am not one who blames her for anything. I like her character in the story. I feel kindly toward her.

I was once attempting to paint a certain mood into a poem. I wrote something like, “The idle hours whiling with ought my soul beguiling.” Beguile is not a word one hears all that often. It meant one thing to me in my poem, but something different in Eve’s excuse.

I looked it up and the dictionary definition of beguile is somewhat ambiguous. On the one hand, beguile has an element of treachery and deception. On the other, it means to relieve the tedium, to charm, divert or entertain. In Eve’s excuse, she was influenced by treachery and deception. In my poem I was going for the relief of tedium, the desire to be charmed or entertained.

Guile is a kindred word to beguile, but there is nothing ambiguous about guile. Guile is defined as the act of deceiving, duplicity and treachery. Barbara and I were riding along in the big Dodge a few days ago, and I was thinking about original excuses, beguile and guile.

I explained to her what I knew about guile and asked her if she knew anyone who was completely without guile. Did she know anyone who would never act with duplicity, deception or treachery? We talked about it for a few miles and agreed that such a person would be rare, but that we knew some whom we believed to be completely without guile. I would like to be such a person.

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