Did you know America called its capital, Washington, while George Washington was still alive? You’d think Washington would have a pretty easy time meeting women in Washington.
“You know they named this town after me? Hi, I’m George Washington, welcome to me.”
That must have been frustrating for his friends every time they mentioned his name.
“I’m visiting Washington tomorrow.”
“You mean the city or George?”
I like to think of all the outtakes of history. There must’ve been a time in some intense meeting between the leaders of the Russian Revolution, when they were planning to kill the Tsar and all his Tsardines, the meeting is done in hush whispers, afraid of anyone listening at the door. Then somebody lets out gas at the rate of Krakatoa.
“Stalin! Was that you?”
“It was Trotsky.”
History’s more fun when you can write it yourself, though, Mr. Matthis, my grade nine history teacher, didn’t think so.
“How do you know the French Revolution wasn’t sponsored by Budweiser? Were you there?”
He probably was, Mr. Matthis was pretty old. He gave me an F. I’m sorry, but, how am I supposed to take History seriously, when it keeps changing its story? Remember when we believed Colombus discovered America? Then we find the Vikings beat him here by 500 years, and now there’s Chinese whispers, saying the Chinese hit the West coast before the Vikings ever reached Newfoundland.
And, if, we’re finding new information to erase old myths, why can’t I make up some of my own? So, who are you to give me zero marks for writing Henry VIII decided between divorce and beheading by flipping a live chicken in the air and seeing how many times it flapped its wings? How do you know? Maybe the secret died with the man?
Studying history is not studying truth, it is studying what we blindly call truth, and I have a hard time spending time memorizing things that might not have even happened. History is like being told to memorize the National Enquirer tabloid, and getting tested on the gossip of all the celebrites, though, it’s not gossip, it’s historical fact, and they’re not celebrities, they’re historical figures.
Really, what are we doing to our brains studying history?
Math: 1+1=2. No debate.
Geography: Ulan Bator is the capital of Mongolia. Of course.
History: The Wright Brothers invented the airplane. Says who? Ask a Brazilian who came up with the airplane. Ask a Korean who invented the printing press. Ask a Canadian who invented basketball.
We’d be better off if history had been written by the loser.