Amoeba’s Lorica: Diabolical Lexicographer (Balderdash)

BALDERDASH, n. Skinhead track and field. Headline event of the race to oblivion.

According to extensive research by Professor C. B. Clash of the Point Roberts Smugglerʻs Academy, the term originated late in the first millennium of the Common Era in Scandinavia, during training sessions for the raiding parties that would devastate the coastal populations of western Europe.

On a hot summer day, a rare event in the Nordic countries, a raiding party drill instructor, Theobald Dicksen, made the mistake of removing his horned helmet during a training session, and revealed a rapidly balding pate. He instantly caught heat for it from his students, and had to maim two of them on the spot who challenged his martial prowess and his appropriateness for a position of authority.

To prove to all that the loss of hair from the head did not equate either loss of strength from the arm or loss of wiles from the brain, Theobald proclaimed a series of training exercises, the Bald Games, in which individuals with thinning hair, and teams of such individuals, were pitted against those who were not yet bald, with prizes awarded to the victors. Among the most prestigious of the exercises was the dash, a footrace of about 100 yards with all participants fully armed for battle, the winner being the first to the plunder.

Initially, the bald, who benefited from experience and also from being in control of the rules of the games (which were, after all, named for themselves), took home all the prizes. But soon, those with full heads of hair began to use the strength of youth and the acquired skill of teamwork to gain ground. It wasnʻt long before Theobald, seeing the trend and where it would lead, changed the rules so that the bald only had to compete against each other.

Having thereby created the “class” concept in competition, Theobald was soon compelled to divide the “bald” class into divisions, in order not to show up the elders among his troops and commanders. He wound up with three divisions, “bald”, “balder”, and “baldest”, with the best prizes reserved for the last – to which, by now, he himself belonged.

This plan was soon thwarted when, on the morning of the biggest Bald Games event of the year, nearly all contestants showed up with shaved heads, thus qualifying themselves for the “baldest” division, and relegating Theobald, and his fringe of unshaved hair, to the “balder” division. The Bald Games were subsequently, and permanently, cancelled.

Thereafter, any time Theobald tried to make a point with the troops that he was attempting to train, somebody would yell out “What? Did you win the balder dash?” This was soon shortened to “Balderdash!”, and would inevitably lead to chaos.

Discredited and ashamed, Theobald Dicksen fled to Ireland. It is said that he died leading a futile defense of his village against a Viking raiding party. But his “Bald Games” legacy has been preserved in the English language to the present day.

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