Can I list something that happened in every century, A.D.? (If you want to try this, too, take a few minutes and then compare your results with mine. You will feel great about yourself, I’m sure).
This shouldn’t be hard. There are only 21 spans, and I know at least 21 Red Sox, more than 21 phone numbers, a couple dozen British Monarchs, bazillions of capitals, and the name of each of Megan’s 21 cousins (approximate). But I think I’ll have a blank spot somewhen. How can that be? I think I’ve been reckless with my time, and with my time-knowing. But here I go.
1st. Jesus exists. Born, strangely, 4 B.C. (riddle: Who was the only person born before himself?). Did some (sometimes angry) stuff in the temple, made some (sometimes reliable) friends, spent a lot of time alone in the desert, empathized with the suffering of humanity, died (but then there’s this really shocking twist).
2nd. And we’re finally, after a tenacious struggle to get through the torrential centuries on a raft of facts, overwhelmed. What, oh what, could have happened between 100 and 199? I’ve heard the Gospels got written quite a bit after Jesus’s life, but more than 70 years? I can’t be sure. Something undoubtedly occurred in Rome–however, that something is unconfirmed by my dullard, hot-cocoa-sipping synapses. Was there someone once named Theodocius? It sounds like he would have lived around then. I’ll come back to it. (Update: I’ve come back to it with a guess: Paul writes letters to Corinthians. Many future weddings are made pleasantly cheesy by his quilled-in declarations about love and its somewhat vague qualities. Then we all eat shrimp. I’ll check and let you know how I did at the end).
(Was Hadrian’s Wall constructed in the 2nd Century? Would I have known that an hour ago?)
3rd. Again, trouble. So, at first glance, there’s a good 100-200 years of human history on which I have nothing. When was Alexander the Great? I’m going to have to venture AtG in one of these slots. (Update: last ditch guess: Eli Whitney’s ancestors invent grain).
4th. Make that 200-300 common era years of which I have no knowledge. Fine: Alexander the Great plunders world.
5th. Ok, I’ve got this one. Rome falls to the Ostrogoths, 476. 1300 hundred years later, to the day (unconfirmed), a portion of Britain falls to the Washingtongoths. Alright! In Rome, July 4th would have been known as Julius IV (unconfirmed). In the Ostrogoth language, July would have been denoted by a series of shield-thrusts and plenty of public executions. Working backwards, it may be safe to say that Rome was falling for those last 300 years. And is that all I’ve got?
6th. St. Benedict starts a bunch of monasteries.
7th. Muhammad, in around 622, gets some revelations from God, spoken to him from the length of two bows (what does this mean? I don’t know exactly. I read it today. I think it means God spoke to him from the distance that an arrow, shot twice, might travel. So, like a football field? I’ve never hunted, or received prophecies, or taken a reasonable history survey, but I can guess that God might speak to one from beyond the goalposts); founds Islam.
8th. Well, I’m once again gobsmacked. Council of Something? Battle of Whichway Bridge? Alexander the Great?
9th. Charlemagne had a lot of power in France/Gaul. Yes!
10th. Is it possible Charlemagne was still alive? Doubtful.
11th. Battle of Hastings, 1066. Normans conquer England/Saxony(?).
12th. Genghis Khan born. I know this from a video game.
13th. Genghis Khan takes over much of the world, including Country 12, which is led by Qelkubud. Ibid.
14th. I want to say Printing Press.
15th. Columbus sails the ocean blue, lands on the island brown, stares at the vegetation green, gets a sunburn red.
16th. Shakespeare born and active.
17th. Protestant Reformation. Also, Guy Fawkes invents fireworks.
18th. American, et al. Revolution(s).
19th. John Quincy Adams becomes a congressman after losing presidency.
20th. Cola wars fought in 80s. Sprite gains market share.
21st. (This took me a long time because I was unsure of the tone of the above: am I mocking my own intellect, or the collective intellect, or cursorily exploring how small facts plant themselves, or actually trying to win a self-imposed quiz?).
Regardless: Parks and Recreation debuts; Lady Gaga emerges; Samoa crosses international dateline for reasons of Australian Trade; All of the above.
How’d I do? 1. Jesus! Correct! 2. Obviously wrong. St. Paul lived in the 1st century. 3. Eli Whitney’s ancestors did not invent grain. 4. Right number century. Wrong suffix. Alexander the Great was waaaay B.C. 5. Rome fell. Correct! September 4th, not July 4th. 6. Shoots and scores on St. Benedict. 7. Yep. 8. Alright! The Second Council of Nicaea. I answered “Council of Something.” 1/4 credit. 9. Sweet. Charlemagne was alive and crushin’. 10. Sour. Charlemagne was long dead (814). 11. This–1066, Norman Conquest–is the fact everyone knows about this 1000 year span. And I know it too. And for a long time anything that cost $9.99 rang up as $10.66, and then I thought about the Battle of Hastings, took my mid-priced bottle of wine off the gas station counter, and felt extremely satisfied. Now, Ohio sales tax is slightly higher and I have no inkling about 1068. My guess is William was still conquering and levying slightly higher sales taxes on his new vassals. 12. Genghis Khan was indeed born, sometime around 1162, but I’m only giving myself half a point because, at the time of his emergence, he was named Temujin (which I should have known from my video game). 13. Genghis Khan did do some business, but I can’t suss out the identity of a Qelkubud, either historical or Nintendonical. 1/2 Credit again. 14. Bah! Take away my English degree. Give it back again when I can behave. 15. Columbus. Correct. 16. Shakespeare. Good. 17. Embarrassingly wrong. I was thinking of The Glorious Revolution. 18-21. Correct. Even the thing about Sprite.
13 and 1/4 out of 21. 63. D-. I pass!
Dr. David Wancyzk, currently residing in Athens, Ohio, is one of those witty writers who also knows how to properly wear a blazer. He is the Director of Special Programs and an Adjunct Professor at Ohio University who teaches Creative Non-Fiction writing classes. You can find more of his work on his blog here: http://davidwanczyk.blogspot.com/