"How did such a strange habit come about?," the intelligent person will ask.
That is why I will tell you the story of Maw Ping.
During the Ming Dynasty, there lived a woman named Ping. She cursed her mother for giving her a boy's name and ran away in shame at the age of twelve.
For four years she lived in the woods. She ate blackberries and wore scratchy clothes woven from grass. Deer and dogs would bring her things, useful things like an empty milk jug or a sock. The doves led her to sweet cricks and patches of dandelions which were tasty. Eventually, though, she knew something was missing.
She needed to settle down and get married.
Straightway without stopping to pee or pack she went to the nearest human settlement whereupon she raced up and down and up and down and up the streets again... looking.
He wasn't there.
Straightway without stopping to pee or pack she went to the next nearest human settlement whereupon she raced up and down and up and down and up the streets again... looking.
He wasn't there. She was disappointed so she took a nap. Naps usually remedy grouchiness (or so we're told). During her nap, she had a dream. In this dream a cat told her, "Just give it one more try! You're doing so well! What a shame it would be to give up...."
She woke up, feeling refreshed, drank some water, and entered the next human settlement whereupon she raced up and down and up and down and up the streets again... looking.
He was there!
She gave him a ring and said, "Now, I'm going to go 'hide.' You come find me and give me this ring. Then, we'll build a house and live happily ever after."
So she hid. He found her. He gave her the ring. They built a house, and they lived happily ever after.
...but this is the beginning of a story...
As time passed, which time does from time to time (or so we are told), it happened that a dog or a cat--usually a cat-- would appear on the doorstep of the house they built. They would have the most amazing stories of need and sorrow. Here are a few of the stories which have survived the centuries:
Meep! Meep-meep! Mrrrrow!and
Prrrdump! Prrruh? Purrrdow!and
*shows belly*Yes, stories of those sort, the sort that leaves no eye dry. So she would take them in and pay the witch doctor; then, they would remain forever in the house that Ping and her husband built living off toona and cuddles.
There came a time when it seemed there were SO many cats and dogs. Ping began to despair about the condition of her floors. They were so... dirty.
--but first Ping had to fill out a tax return. For her tax return, she counted her dogs, which numbered forty, and she tried to count her cats but lost count around 148 so she wrote, "About one-eighth the entire cat population, whatever that is."
Days came and went, and toona and cuddles were had.
One day something STRANGE happened!!!!
A lady knocked on her door!!!
She crept through the dark foyer and peeked through the window. It was a lady dressed like a cop with FBI written on her sleeve. Ping, who was quite old by now, opened the door, but knew she was still protected by the Tricked Out Screen Door of Secrets, "Why are you on my property?!"
"Ms. Ping, I am Díor Bioré with the IRS," she said. She whispered confidentially, "--that's the guvments," before announcing in a very business-like tone, "Your cats are being audited."
Feeling quite relieved that it was something so mundane (How many times had she already been through this? She didn't even remember at the ripe age of three hundred and three.) she let the lady in.
"Folks around here call me Ol' Maw Ping, if you please. Make yourself at home. You're welcome to all the cats you can count or carry or cajole or carouse!" Ping laughed, thinking how clever she was. "Would you like some tea?"
"No, thankyou, ma'am, and Ms. Ping will do just fine. I'm just doing my job, and I'll be right at it. ... Now, if the cats will please form a single line. No cutting and no elbow jabbing. This will be very orderly, and I hope not to take too much of your time."
Ol' Maw Ping turned and rolled her eyes. She made herself a nice hot pot of tea then settled in to watch the entertainment:
"Here kitty-kitty! Here! Here kitty?"
"--and your name is?"
"Which one do you want? I've got 152."
Díor sighed in despair, but then thought she had the problem licked, "Which one are you most often called?"
"I dunno. You'd have to audit the past fifteen years of conversation."
Maw Ping chuckled. This went on for twenty-two days before the lady decided that a career in the IRS wasn't for her. Díor Bioré went on to open a very successful beauty line.
Then Ol' Maw Ping remembered her problem. Her floors!
She thought and she thought and she thought.
Then, she thought some more.
Then, she filled out a census form. Deciding once and for all to stop the insanity, she put a very sophisticated looking symbol next to the number of cats question:
(That is why the last census taken was in 194BC.)
Then, she had an idea! She took out the brush she used to pull off her dogs' winter coats reasoning, "If it works on dogs, it'll work on floors."
So she brushed her floors, and behold it worked quite well.
Still, her floors were dirty.
So she took out the soap and water that she used to bathe her dogs reasoning, "If it works on dogs, it'll work on floors."
It was like magic!
She began to do this every Saturday. People walked for hundreds of miles to watch her at her task. Soon, everyone was doing it! It really took on! Not like leg warmers either, it took on like skirts.
One ancient scholar then said, "What is this called so that I can write of it preserving this practice for the betterment of future generations?"
The mayor, who was a six month old baby boy, immediately replied, "We'll call it maw-ping to honor her who showed us how."
Forevermore, it was called thus. In the modern era, it is spelled mopping, but we know how language twists and turns like a tongue. So remember Ol' Maw Ping....
Love and a (refreshed, I'll have you know) Nut Bar,