1002 Arabian Nights

By Alan B. Combs. Since I am spending most of the week in Baghdad By the Bay, I am reminded of this tragic episode.

The story is told that the fair maiden Sherazade in order to save her life told a marvelous and entertaining story to King Schariar every night. Because the King so loved these tales, he refrained from killing her and many of the virgins the King was putting to death. These tales have come down to us in the book “One Thousand and One Arabian Nights”. They are tales of wonder, magic, and romance. They are so much a part of our common lore that movies and cartoons have been created around individual stories, and we frequently don’t even realize their origin.

One of these familiar tales is about a man of the sea. Perhaps, you remember him, .He was born to be a hero, and except for a certain tragic affliction, he might have become one. That affliction was an almost terminal case of dermatitis. Acne, psoriasis, hives, welts, and hickeys — he had them all, simultaneously, that is. He still might have fulfilled his original destiny, but the childish taunts of peers drove him to distraction and enraged him beyond his control. Instead of protecting the weak and infirm, he became their scourge. Instead of deeds of daring-do, he was wont to perform deeds of daring-don’t. His modus operandi became aggression, assault, attack, rape, pillage, and plunder. His victims ranged from slow dogs on the street to whole villages unlucky enough to get in his way.

Sherazade gave him that name we remember to this day – Skinbad, Assailor.

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