This story is not for the feint of heart. I have waited for years to publish this story, pending copyrights and frankly, because of the number of times I’ve been asked why so many sailors wear toe rings, I thought it was now time to tell the story as it was written to us.
Captain’s Stanley and Sylvia Dabney
C/O Sea Cliff Hotel
Water Island, USVI 00802
Dear Captain’s Dabney & Dabney:
I have been asked by my dear friends the Bidwell’s, whom I understand you have had the recent misfortune of meeting, to do some investigative research into the background and history of TOE RINGS. Quite frankly, I have no time for such exhaustive study as this task would entail. I prefer easier research like splitting the atom, or World Peace, but the TOE RING story has been common lore in my family for Centuries and I am happy to share it with you. For your general information, my family surname of Tale is well known throughout the South Pacific Ocean, as my family have all been seagoing types whose love of the Sea and the happiness and joys it brings, became legendary. I was the first Tale to not go to sea and have become left out of the will, so to speak. I am a man incapable of telling a lie and am actually quite a bore, but since the TOE RING HISTORY has not been shared with you – here goes.
The Tale sailing and ocean ventures go back, long past such rookies and upstarts as Columbus, Magellan, Cortez and the rest of those upstart types. It is a family requirement that on the 16th birthday of each child – Male or Female – a series of 10 true Tale adventures are told to them by their father. The theory of this is that this ceremony helps to perpetuate knowledge of not only our beloved forefathers, but passes on and in the History of the Tale Family, only one story has the commonality factor, each and every father in our family chooses to tell each and every one of his children the same story, as one of the 10, “THE HISTORY OF THE TOE RING”.
“Centuries ago, while the Earth still was belching fire and lava in an attempt to form itself, in the South Pacific lay an Island known as Gnu-Gnu, which lies 109 nautical miles south of what is now known as Tahiti, (previously Good Coldbru). Each year, on the first full moon following the seasons first hurricane, 5 Virgin Girls were selected for a sacrificial affair that occurred on the Cusp of the Setting of the Red Planet (Mars), behind a large tidal cave that became visible due to the weird tides, only once each eight years.
This was a supreme honor to be chosen, and each Native girl who was chosen was the envy of the rest of the Native girls and held in highest esteem by the Males. Although this ceremony required the ultimate sacrifice of life, in a rather gruesome ceremony, the 40 chosen Natives thought no greater honor could be bestowed and awaited their end with Valiant apprehension. The ceremony involved days of partying and merriment prior to this auspicious day. The women were prepared in the following manner. They were first stripped of all clothing and lain on the alter side by side. Each Native girl being sacrificed, had a special gold ring placed on a finger by the Native chief, this ring made of solid gold was to represent the shining aura it created as the Native woman’s spirit traveled to the Gods for whom the sacrifice was made. The Native maiden was then wrapped in mud from head to foot as though mummified. This process was repeated 40 times. On the 21st girl, all the Native men would start drinking excessively, (thus the reason the legal drinking age requirement is 21), not because you are mature at 21 years, like most think). At the 30th girl, the Native Men began to gather massive amounts of firewood and placing the wood under the sacrificial alter containing the “VALIANT 40”, as they had become known. On the 39th girl, the gathered wood was doused with a special Native Flammant (now known as 151 Proof Rum). Upon completion of the 40th Native, the fire was ignited and all the men cheered as the fires engulfed the Native women and their spirits soared to the skies of the Gods. Unfortunately, in this particular year, many things went wrong. First, the Chief had become so excited after wrapping 39 virgins with mud, that he forgot to place the gold ring on the 40th virgin, prior to wrapping her. (His personal consumption of the Native Flammant probably was a contributing factor also). Coincidentally, this had been a dry season and the wood was really flaming much faster than usual, and his Flammant induced friends had loaded up way too many logs, making the fire an inferno. Fortunately for the Chief, all the rest of the Natives were so blind, that none had noticed his forgetting the ring, still, he was the Chief and he did not want to incur the Gods wrath by sending up a Native Spirit without the Gold Aura to guide her to his kingdom. There was no way to unwrap her completely and place the ring on her finger – the mud had already hardened and the fire was burning much too fast”.WHAT TO DO??? WHAT TO DO??? Finally, in a fleeting moment of brilliance, the Chief rationalized that it made no difference WHERE the ring was placed, just so she had it with her.
As the flames engulfed the platform the Chief grabbed a rock and struck at the 40th mud pile. The rock hit with sledgehammer-like force and a large chunk of the mud flew away, leaving the Maidens foot exposed. With lightening speed, the Chief affixed the ring to the Native woman’s toe and backed away from the blaze, just as the fire became full. In addition to the dry year the Island had just gone through, an inordinate number of huge Volcanoes had destroyed each of the immediate surrounding Islands and the Chief and his Natives knew the time for their Islands biggest Volcano to explode and thus destroy them all, was rapidly approaching. Well, you guessed it!.just as the Chief and his men sat back to watch the Native Maiden Sacrifice, the Volcano erupted with such violence that the entire Island was fragmented with such an explosion as the South Pacific had never seen before!!! At this point, an amazing phenomena took place. The #40 Valiant Native, the one with the not completely sealed mud coffin, received a blast that was very powerful. However, the power was directed at the hole in her cocoon by her foot, where the Chief had struck. This power acted as a booster and actually launched the mud muffled Native to the heavens above. She landed on an Island 30 miles to the North and hit on the soft sandy beach with a force that shattered the mud shell that acted as a cushion in her fall and left her unconscious, but alive on this beautiful uninhabited Island. She began to explore this new found paradise!!!
Coincidentally, as our Maiden begins exploring,a young man fights for his life, 109 miles offshore as he lapses into and out of consciousness while clinging to a life jacket, adrift at sea. The young man in the water was one of my ancestors, his name was Tella. It seems Tella was serving aboard one of the King’s ships, as a merchant seaman. Tella got caught stealing money and then lying to the Captain when confronted about it. The Captain, a real disciplinarian, immediately sentenced Tella to the maximum penalty. Cutting off both hands so Tella could never steal again and also cutting out his tongue for lying. He would then walk the plank into the Ocean. After the sentence was made, it was carried out forthwith. With his hands chopped off and his tongue cut out, Tella balanced at the end of the gangplank waiting the final step. Just as he hit the water, a huge explosion from afar, came sweeping across the Ocean and shattered the ship he had just jumped off of, leaving no ship nor survivors, safe Tella. Fortunately for Tella, he was under water as the force raced over him and destroyed his ship and mates. A life jacket had blown off of the ship as it had exploded into a million pieces and Tella had grabbed onto it (even back then, PFD’s were required equipment). Tella held on for dear life, finally surrendering his fight and letting the sea have her way with him. Poor Tella finally passed out hoping the wind and currents would take him to a shore, thus sparing his life.
The Native girl who had been blown to this island, found Tella and spent weeks nursing him back to health and helping him remember who he was and where he had come from. Love bloomed for them, during this time. Finally, he remembered the first two things he saw after washing up onshore, the Native and the Sun,thus the paradise became known as the “NATIVE SUN”.
One day, while cavorting on the beaches of their beloved “NATIVE SUN”, Tella and Sylvania (Tella had since named his Native wife after the Queen of Sylvania, a province near his homeland,the Queen’s family later became Appliance and T.V. dealers), saw a large ship at anchor with a launch coming to shore. The four people that came ashore were amazed to find anyone living on the island, they were looking for fresh water. Tella and Sylvania were so happy to see other humans, that they immediately set about giving them a tour of “NATIVE SUN”, took them to all of their favorite swimming places, got them fresh water and finally ended the day with a big beach picnic. The four people returned to their big ship with tales of the wonderful couple they had met on “NATIVE SUN”. Instead of leaving the next day, two more couples came ashore and Tella and Sylvania shared the Island again with the visitors. After the beach party and before returning to the big ship, these couples left Tella and Sylvania with salt, flour, beef and a host of other goodies in an effort to repay them for showing them such a good time on “NATIVE SUN”. This tour scene repeated itself for 5 days and by the time the big ship had sailed away, Tella and Sylvania had enough stores to last a month.
Over the next 7 years, Tella and Sylvania shared this same experience with all the visitors to “NATIVE SUN” and led a grand lifestyle. It seems that each visitor would return to their homeland and describe the beautiful place they had visited; the mellow attitude of the two wonderful people who wore rings on their toes had been a contributing factor to the visitors trip and word spread far and wide about “NATIVE SUN”.
The King of France, Whatta, (another forefather of mine), had been doing a big real estate deal and really needed a rest. He heard of the idyllic “NATIVE SUN” and the two wonderful people who acted as guides. Whatta decided to take the Queen, Fan, and kick back for a few weeks. When King Whatta and Queen Fan arrived on “NATIVE SUN”, they were amazed to find the host was their Great Nephew Tella, whom everyone thought had been killed in the volcanic explosion of years past. King Whatta was so happy Tella was alive, that he forgave him the sins of stealing and lying and the four of them had a glorious week on “NATIVE SUN”. Tella and Sylvania had grown somewhat burned out giving all of these tours and selling boats to people who wanted to try to sail back home on their own boats, rather than the big cruise ships and they shared this fact with King Whatta before he left. It seems that this fit the King’s situation nicely, as the real estate deal he had just closed involving a large track of land in the Northern Hemisphere needed a ruler. He immediately assigned Tella and Sylvania to rule this land on behalf of the King and Queen. King Whatta, left guards on “NATIVE SUN” to protect it in Tella and Sylvania’s absence. With much sadness, Tella and Sylvania left their home and headed to the new country known as “BOYAREWE NORTH”, (now called Canada).
Here they were received like heroes by the country’s inhabitants and even thought there was a big communication problem, Tella and Sylvania, as always, became very popular rulers. In fact, the people of “BOYAREWE NORTH” actually began to idolize them. Tella and Sylvania set up their headquarters in the Western area of this country, in a place called “WELL DIGGERS”, which was aptly named due to the cold temperatures there. (This area now known as British Columbia). Tella and Sylvania did not do well in the cold and they longed to be back on “NATIVE SUN”, but they decided to stick it out for awhile. As I mentioned, the inhabitants loved Tella and Sylvania so much they wanted to do something for them to prove their endearment. This was a hard thing to do because of the communication problem, for Sylvania knew only her native tongue of Gnu-Gnuese. (Now you might wonder how Tella was about to speak without a tongue, but if you believe in miracles, you will understand that when his Uncle Whatta forgave him, thunder rolled and lightening flashed and that very night, Tella’s tongue began to grow back). Finally, the citizens decided on proper recognition for their rulers and on the first (and only, I might add), warm day, they threw a huge party for Tella and Sylvania. The citizens gathered in a large circle with Tella and Sylvania in the middle and at the appointed time, removed their foot coverings (now shoes), and each person proudly displayed a single Gold Ring on the toe of one foot, in honor of what they thought would endear them to their heroes,which it did!. Sylvania immediately broke into tears and Tella banned foot coverings forever! Life was good for the next few years and as the population grew, it did Tella and Sylvania’s hearts good to see all the people wearing Toe Rings in their honor. One day however, “WELL DIGGERS” was invaded by the ferocious SEA CLIFF tribe and its dastardly leader, Captain Mayk R. Tell. The toe ringed citizens were no match for the ferocious warriors and immediately surrendered to Captain Tell. Tell immediately demanded that all people remove their toe rings and give them to him in exchange for the privilege of living in the territory under Tells rule. T0 a person, the citizens all told Mayk R. Tell, NO! Tell immediately banished all who told him this, to another territory out of his jurisdiction. Thus, Tella and Sylvania led the entire population, Toe Rings and all, on the Southward trek to a new home. They finally settled in a small community nearer the Ocean, called “LOTSARAIN” (now called Seattle).
The toe ringed people were still very loyal to Tella and Sylvania, but with all the hassles with Mayk R. Tell, Tella and Sylvania longed for their “NATIVE SUN” and began planning the long trip to their beloved Island. However, because they were such cool people, Tella and Sylvania wanted to leave a legacy of sorts, for the people who had been so loyal to them, something of real meaning. Since the Toe Ring had become such a prominent symbol, they decided to leave this legacy somehow around the Toe Ring theme. By now, there were thousands of men, women and children wearing Toe Rings and the meaning and symbolism had somewhat been forgotten. Tella and Sylvania thus decided to form a committee to study the situation. The committee, Fraternal Association of Ringed Toes (F.A.R.T) decided that the Toe Ring should be worn only by a chosen few, thereby keeping its importance and stature in the community as special. It was therefore decreed by Tella and Sylvania, as their last official act, that only couples who were married and had extraordinary, exemplary and perfect love for each other, be allowed to wear Toe Rings. Each couple would submit their Toe Ring Application to the Association as to their qualifications and await approval. This was then known as passing a F.A.R.T. Once passed, the couple would then have to journey to “NATIVE SUN” and get Tella and Sylvania’s personal approval. Upon passing this review, the Toe Ring wearing was then blessed and the couple returned home as Official Ambassadors of Tella and Sylvania and were treated as Royalty by the people. By using this methodology, only truly worthy and loving couples were allowed the honor and privilege of the wearing of the Toe Rings!.
As generations passed and Tella and Sylvania had long since gone to the Islands in the sky, the Toe Ring wearing came to signify that which it had meant to the first Toe Ring wearers, Tella and Sylvania. That significance, being the great love and caring which couples must have for each other, the respect required to each other to make relationships last and that every couple must strive together for the perfect harmony and happiness that Tella and Sylvania enjoyed on their beloved “NATIVE SUN”.
This then is the TRUE HISTORY OF THE TOE RING, as told by generations of Tale’s and if you too are contemplating the exchange of Toe Rings – please remember that you still must pass a F.A.R.T. before wearing one. If you too are already wearing these rings, you must be VERY SPECIAL PEOPLE.
To you then, my best wishes for your continued happiness. Good Winds and Good Sailing to you Both.
Yours Very Truly
Dr. I. Tolda Tale, Ph.D.
World University for Exhaustive Study