A sheet with a hole in it. As some readers will no doubt be aware, possibly from viewing such films as 'Yntl' and/or '1492: Conquest of Insomnia', the custom exists, or rather existed, of using a sheet with a hole in it (SWAHII) during intimate relations. No, the hole is not for looking through, you idiot. Anyways, in the interest of an educated public, the following history of this odd custom is presented:
1123 A.D. - the first Lateran Council provides the capstone to a millenia of increasingly strict calls for celibacy among the Catholic Church heirarchy. Upon hearing that he "won't be getting any, any more", Pope Callistus II declares that "it wasn't that good, anyways." Subsequent Popes, including Pope Urban IV, Pope Callistus IX, Pope Suburban III, and Pope Rural refine this doctrine into a more rigorous "if we aren't doing it, you really shouldn't be either, and don't even THINK about enjoying it" policy.
1240 A.D. - the first known use of a SWAHII, documented in Olaus Petroleum's Life of Morgo. The Flemish noble Morgo is reputed to have consistently used a SWAHII after his marriage to Elizabeth the Boily, although Olaus attributes this not to a surfeit of piety but to a weak stomach.
1300s A.D. - the SWAHII comes into widespread use in many European nations, most notably those where mere letter-perfect observance of Catholic customs is found to be heretical, and those who don't go 'the extra mile' in devising new ways to not enjoy life are burned at the stake. For instance, Spain.
1389 A.D. - Pope Binky IV issues the Edict of Small Edible Crustaceans, in which a sub-section is devoted to the precise size (in cubits) that the SWAHII used by the faithful should be, and recommendations for materials. Wool is listed first, thanks to a large papal donation by Parisian wool merchants, but is generally unpopular due to chafing. Linen remains the most popular SWAHII fabric for another century.
1450 A.D. - The Renaissance
1482 A.D. - Venetian Doge John the Inordinately Proud has famed seamstress Lisa of Milan and Florence on Alternate Tuesdays craft him a new SWAHII "with a much larger hole, for the ones available in Venice are simply too small to use". His parties become much harder to get into.
1485 A.D. - John the Inordinately Proud dies of heart failure after impregnating Bologna.
1502 A.D. - King Louis -II of France has a SWAHII made that has two holes in it. Morals decline.
1517 A.D. - Martin Luther nails his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg, along with a remarkably large brassiere and a scribbled note saying "to hell with sheets with holes in them!" His parties also become harder to get into.
1540 A.D. - King Carlos Carlos of Spain declares that anyone who even looks like they are not using a SWAHII will be burned alive. Nonetheless, even in Spain, SWAHIIs made of silk, gauze, and 'The Emperor's New Fabric' begin to gain popularity.
1560s A.D. - Word gets around that Protestants have gotten rid of the whole SWAHII idea lock, stock, and lint problem, and large chunks of Europe change religion.
1602 A.D. - Lord Bighot Furbooty accidentally drops his knife point-down onto a handkerchief, and thereby invents the 'traveler's SWAHII'. Pope Dissipate XIV announces that Furbooty's new SWAHII is acceptable only in cases when no other SWAHII is available, or at least clean, or if it's too far across the room.
1610s A.D. - The popularity of the traveler's SWAHII gives rise to a whole series of popular alternatives based on contemporary neckwear, known collectively as "cock-ruffs". King Myownfirstcousin of Spain declares anything other than a full-sized SWAHII to be cause for burning at the stake, but elsewhere in Catholic Europe the new designs rapidly eliminate old style SWAHII.
1671 A.D. - Duke Alfonse the Dodgy of Seville, suspected of heresy, is found to own a SWAHII with seventy-two different holes in it. Several of the investigative officers have to be dismissed for psychiatric reasons. Upon hearing of the SWAHII, Isaac Newton and G.W. 'Funky' Leibnitz spend several wide-eyed months independently inventing calculus. Alfonse himself is pardoned by the Queen and moves into the Royal Palace.
1700s A.D. and onwards - SWAHIIs gradually disappear, except for societal groups that still live in the middle ages such as the Amish, the Spanish, Televangelists, and really hard-line Jews, who actually adopt the custom after seeing that the Christians weren't conservative enough to hold onto it.
Columns by Sun Ra