Salome’s Story | The Flash-In-The Pan Performer
Imagine that fine day in Jerusalem, you and I are at Herod’s party sipping our glasses of Pinot Noir, as we gobble up our array of Mediterranean-style cuisine. Everything is going great- it's Herod's birthday, the food is being wheeled in by the second, the drinks flowing, music playing, John the Baptist is in the dungeons below, but still everything is going well.
A dance performance is announced by a colorfully dressed servant. Herod’s niece and step-daughter, Salome, appears on the center stage. We are stunned by her excellent dance techniques, standing on her toes one minute and her elbows the next, twirling her flaming hulla hoops, all with the vigor of Beyoncé and the stretchiness of Ciara, spinning, transitioning into some ballet-krunk footwork; throws in some moonwalking into that medley.
We are all fascinated by her superior motor skills, of course.
The King, himself, is visibly impressed, red in the face, eyes glassy with pride and lips wide in a smile. He's also probably a little drunk, and his next proposition gives some evidence to this.
“Ask me for anything”, His voice thunders, all at once offering everything and nothing at the same time.
All heads turn to look at him and back at her. The whole room is silent, so much that we could hear a pin drop.
“Go ahead. Ask away! I'll give you up to half of my kingdom. Just ask!”
The girl is shocked. She had skills, she knew, but to be rewarded with half of the kingdom! We sip our wines, wide eyed and expectant. What would she say? This girl could be our queen by nightfall, depending on our postal codes.
Everyone’s breath is held.
No one speaks.
We only hear our thumping hearts and the labored breathing of the dancing girl catching her breath from the activity and now this proposition!
She doesn't know what to say. Eventually she manages,“Please give me some time to make my decision.”
She retreats to her mother's side.
The silence erupts into murmurs. We are excited and mildly terrified. Our political system now sat in the balance with this inexperienced girl up for Queen, no thanks to our mildly intoxicated king and this girl’s superior stanky leg dance moves.
What did this mean for us?
Would she increase taxes?
Would she subsidize our donkey hay?
Would we have more public holidays?
Would we have Monday's off?
The murmurs quieten; with the look on her face, we are certain she has decided to be queen of half of the kingdom and the issue of donkey subsidies would be debatable.
“I want the head of John the Baptist on a platter?” She sounds unsure and looks at her mother, who nods slowly.
Our blank stares are epic. Your mouth is wide open. I push up your jaw and close your mouth shut. The hall erupts in chaos.
She can’t be serious! John?!
First, John is such a cool guy! Who'd want to kill him? The only reason he was in prison was because Herodias* wanted him there but also, the king loved to visit him in prison, hang out and ask him questions that puzzled him.
We all love John! Well, not all of us, but most. What was this child saying?
The king is distraught, hey, but his word is his word, whether under the influence or not. So a few moments later, John’s head is on a platter.
Head. Platter. End of party.
The most intriguing and disturbing part about this occurrence is that Salome could have asked for anything. ANYTHING; but she asked for something that held no meaning or value after 2 minutes. I get what they were going for-- some drama, some intrigue, some lip-trembling theatre and they achieved this for about 15 seconds, but the moment they cut his head off, the value of that head decreased by 1000% - and that was how Salome never became anything greater than a flash-in-the-pan dancer, forever lost to obscurity because she asked the wrong person for advice. She could have been queen. A renowned dancer. A warrior, maybe. A Queen-warrior-dancer but no, she had to ask for advice from some woman who was past her prime and buried in bitterness, a woman who lacked judgement.
The women in this story are just plain sad. They really could have been something, maybe Queen and Queen-Mother. Two weeks after, they were still Heroidas and Salome who depended on Herod for money to buy earrings and ankle bracelets. Hurrah, at least they still had the rotting head on their dresser. A few years later, Herod died, and with him probably died their livelihood. Tsk.
In life, we get the opportunity to become what we were destined to be; this very important moment presents itself to everyone and is dependent on two things: time and chance.
It all aligned for Salome that day, the entire universe aligned, breaths were held, the silence throbbed. All she had to say was "Half."
She took the wrong advice. Seek out your counsel wisely, there are so many influences out there. Seek out the right influences and advice cautiously, think it all through. Weed out your Herodias and watch the universe align as you walk into your destiny.
Sipping that Pinot.
What are your thoughts?
*[Quick backdrop, Herodias got married to Herod, her brother-in-law and moved into the palace with her daughter, Salome. John, the Baptist called them out and said it wasn't lawful for them to be married and found it eeky. Herodias held a grudge against him because of this and when the opportunity arose, she asked Salome to have him beheaded]