An Open Letter to a Fourteenth-Century English Scholar: What are we doing with ourselves?

[At Oxford in the 14th Century} Most students had high spirits and empty pocketbooks. The most common theme in letters home was the need for money, son of which was certainly used for drinking wine in a tavern, after which the students might abuse some woman, mock a townsman, or provoke a riot. In 1354, several students pronounced the wine served them sour and threw the pot at the tavern-keeper, thereby precipitating a riot that that lasted one week and lead to the death of 63 scholars.

A History of England, Vol. 1 Fourth Edition. Roberts, Roberts and Bisson. Pg 145

Fourteenth Century Scholar, we’re not all that different, you and I. Of course, the languages we use are remarkably different. I can use the word “fuck” without being stoned to death. But, in reality, our drives and methods are largely the same. I own a Television and a computer; you were lucky to own a candle. I drink now and then; you drink now and then. I’m broke; you were probably broke. I go home and pass out; you abuse women and start a riot that is directly responsible for the deaths of you and 62 of your classmates.

Having, both of us, studied the trivium, the world is our oyster. While you’re not likely to finish the six years it takes for a Mastery of the Liberal arts, it’s the new Batchelor’s Degree in the world I live in. I HAVE to get a Master’s Degree, or how am I going to be a middle manager earning upwards of $35k a year, so that I can buy an iPod and drive a marginally impressive imported car? It’s an absolute necessity. Sure, it’s good for you, too, if you want to study civil or canon law, medicine, philosophy or theology, but what can you get with one of those degrees? A job as a lawyer or a doctor? Come on, you guys still use leeches, and that’s just the Lawyers. I suppose nothing’s changed about that, but what on earth is a Medulla Oblongata? Some doctor. In my era, even kids who have just seen The Waterboy know that it’s the brain’s anger center. They miss that it’s the center of autonomic functions as well, but at least they know that much.

No, where you shine is in kicking ass. Seriously. Starting a week-long multiple-fatality riot over the equivalent of some bartender not burning your drink enough? You were drunk as hell, weren’t you? Epic. In my day, we just don’t tip. What do you do if a waitress spills a drink? Murder her family and perform rituals to keep them out of Heaven with the help of your drunken 33-year-old Theology-Doctorate-seeking pal? That is intense. You could totally pledge my house; we need an enforcer.

This one time, these guys came to my house who I really didn’t like, but they’d been coming there for parties since Freshman year, right? Well, I decided that, since I’m so far up in seniority at the house now, I’d make a move to stop them from creeping out the chicks at every party we have, passing out in the basement smelling like beer and Brut and generally making large, bulbous asses of themselves at every vague opportunity. So anyway, this dude comes up to me, I’ll call him Mark. I friggin hate Mark. The week before, he hit on my girlfriend and had to be reminded that he was a guest. The actual week in question, he hit on my new girlfriend. This was the last straw, especially since she’s the mother of my child, which I kind of get sensitive about. Anyway, he comes up to me and is all, “Hey, Skeeter, good party”. Did I mention noone really likes him? Anyway, I reply that I didn’t quite hear him and could he rephrase his sentence in the form of get the fuck out of my house. For some reason, he’s slightly taken aback by this, and hesitates. We get into a little bit of an argument while the guys rally up and he decides that it’s not worth his time and his ass to make an issue of it. I mean, I don’t know how many guys it would have taken to get him the fuck out, but I knew how many we were going to use. See, this is what I respect about you. Instead of being all clever and witty, you would have just bashed his skull in and put his ruined corpse on display in front of the house as an example to potential creepers everywhere to creep on past this particular house if they plan on creeping any time soon.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I feel ya, man. Respect.