I received good grades in high school, but I have no idea how I made it through American and World History. At some point, I must have learned more presidents than Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, but the only one that comes to mind on a consistent basis is that guy that got stuck in the bathtub. (Don’t ask me his name, though.) In college, I took an Egyptian art history course and squeezed through with an A- even though I never figured out the correct order of the Pharaohs. (Surprisingly, King Tut wasn’t the only guy!)
Sometimes I’ll be involved in conversations with people, and I can’t tell if they like talking about history or if they want people to think they like talking about history. Either way, I find myself in a historical discussion at least once a month. Then I have to name drop a bunch of people that I think were president during a really monumental event. FDR is my go-to guy. Are you talking about the economy? Then I’m going to cite something about “priming the pump” because I remember a little cartoon of him in my old textbook. There are no movies I remember very well about presidents, so I usually just nod and say, “What about Garfield?” and hope they switch to the cartoon cat version.
I know a lot about (some) wars. Mainly, I know a lot about the Revolutionary War because I watched The Patriot about a hundred times during that unit in school. I was rooting for Heath Ledger and that other cute son of Mel’s with the ponytail. I could tell you a decent amount about World War II, but that’s only because I watched roughly 10 minutes of Saving Private Ryan before the shaking camera made me nauseous. I managed to sit through Apocalypse Now and write a paper on it, but all I remember is Marlon Brando in a dark room. And don’t even get me started on Pearl Harbor….because I never finished that movie.
The one part of history that I remember really well is the holocaust because those movies are so good. Nothing can replace that “Oh, shit” feeling at the end when you realize it all actually happened. Schindler’s List, Inglorious Bastards and The Pianist taught me a lot about the “other part” of World War II. I’ve also seen about 20 of those Hitler memes on YouTube, if that counts for anything.
Don’t ask me which countries were fighting during a specific event because I will sound ridiculous. I can, however, tell you one of them was probably not Switzerland. I can also tell you there is no way in hell Pauly Shore survived that one war and brought a camel home.
-Heidi Thomasoni likes to say, “I live in the present!” as an excuse for not remembering anything.