“And Alexander wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.
The benefits of a classical education,” gloats the great screen
villain Hans Gruber,
and it’s to him I raise my glass tonight.

Because of my classical education,
I can look at the pomegranate
which has just splattered my kitchen with an arterial eruption of
juice that will permanently stain the linoleum and think,
well, there’s at least three decades of winter I won’t be eating.

Because of my classical education,
I cannot find Zambia on an unmarked map,
but I can tell you
which god controlled home heating in ancient Rome.
I feel guilty over this,
but, because I was classically educated,
not too terribly guilty.

(The classically educated never get too miffed over wronging Africa,
which is why they first colonized it,
then lost it,
managing to learn absolutely nothing in the process.
Africa, however, learned plenty from them.)

And because of my parents’ dedication to the idea of an old-fashioned,
English-prep-school learning experience,
I use an old wooden ruler that is nicked and marred,
and every time I do I recall the story,
probably specious,
of the enormous zig-zag in the Trans-Siberian railroad
that was built because the ruler used by the tzar
to demarcate the planned route on the map
had a nick in it.
I have always wanted to ride that railroad, if only for the zig-zag.

Fun fact:
Because of all this classical education,
my brain is worth approximately 160,000 U.S. dollars.

I managed to strand myself without toilet paper in my own home.
Clearly, the system is broken.

But then I wrote this poem about it,
so perhaps all is not lost.

Now, on to “Die Hard II”.


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