Word Salad

By Sally Asante

World “History” part 1

Word Salad


Decades ago I had the good fortune to come across linguist and humorist Richard Lederer’s column in a court reporting trade magazine, and have laughed my way to expanded knowledge ever since. Just when you think you have a handle on something, Richard has a way of hilariously turning what you think you know on its ear. Following is the first of a two-part series of examples he compiled of World History as retold by eighth grade to college level students who did a bit of ear-turning of their own:

The inhabitants of ancient Egypt buried their mummies and daddies in the pyramids, and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert, which they cultivated by irritation and over which they traveled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere, so certain areas of the dessert are cultivated by irritation. Ancient Egyptian women wore a calasiris, a loose-fitting garment which started just below the breasts which hung to the floor.

The Bible is full of interesting caricatures. In the first book of the Bible, Guinness, Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. One of their children, Cain, once asked, “Am I my brother’s son?” Noah’s wife was called Joan of Ark. Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.

God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Montezuma. Jacob, son of Isaac, stole his brother’s birthmark. Jacob was a patriarch, who brought up his twelve sons to be patriarchs, but they did not take to it. One of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, gave refuse to the Israelites.

Pharaoh forced the Hebrew slaves to make bread without straw. Moses led them to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread without any ingredients. Afterward, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Commandments, but he died before he ever got to Canada. David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Philatelists, a race of people who lived in Biblical times. Solomon, one of David’s sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn’t have history. The Greeks invented three kinds of columns — Corinthian, Ironic, and Dork. They also created myths. A myth is a female moth. One myth says that the mother of Achilles dipped him in the river Stynx until he became intolerable. Achilles appears in the Iliad, by Homer. Homer also wrote the Oddity, in which Penelope was the last hardship that Ulysses endured on his journey. Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock.

In the Olympic Games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled the biscuits, and threw the Java. The reward to the victor was a coral wreath. The government of Athens was democratic because people took the law into their own hands.

Eventually, the Romans came along and conquered the Geeks. History calls people Romans because they never stayed in one place for very long. At Roman banquets, the guests wore garlics in their hair. Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Caesar expired with these immortal words upon his dying lips: “Eat you, Brutus!” Nero was a cruel tyranny who would torture his poor subjects by playing the fiddle to them.

The Romans were overrun by the ball bearings. Then came the Middle Ages, when everyone was middle aged. King Alfred conquered the Dames. King Arthur lived in the age of shivery, with brave knights on prancing horses and beautiful women. King Harold mustarded his troops before the Battle of Hastings. Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and cannonized by Bernard Shaw. People contracted the blue bonnet plague, which caused them to grow boobs on their necks.

Magna Carta provided that no free man should be hanged twice for the same offense. People performed morality plays, about ghosts, goblins, virgins, and other mythical creatures.

In midevil times most of the people were alliterate. The greatest writer of the time was Chaucer, who wrote many poems and verses and also wrote literature. Another tale tells of William Tell, who shot an arrow through an apple while standing on his son’s head.

The Renaissance was an age in which more individuals felt the value of their human being. Martin Luther was nailed to the church door at Wittenberg for selling papal indulgences. He died a horrible death, being excommunicated by a bull.

It was the sculptor Donatello’s interest in the female nude that made him the father of the Renaissance. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented the Bible and removable type. Sir Walter Raleigh discovered cigarettes and started smoking. And Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.

To be continued . . .

(Reprinted with permission.)

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