As promised last post, I conducted a
very kinda scientific survey to determine how many people–homeschooled or publicly educated–actually know the definition of bootless as Shakespeare used it in Sonnet 29.
When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself and curse my fate…
Confronted with this massive undertaking, I first cast my brains back against the wall of science class to see if something stuck. Sure enough, the approximately one-hundred-year-old ghost of science class past, Mr. Emrick, raised a bony finger and told me to set up a control.
(I looked around the empty prairie surrounding my house and then at my iphone.) Ah, Siri, my personal guru.
To ascertain whether Siri was the perfect control, I asked her where she was educated and she didn’t know what I was talking about. She qualified as perfectly
Then without further ado, I began to climb the mountain of rusting junk out there behind the barn where Siri lives at the summit, hidden by a cloud.
(I stepped up on the bed of the 1990 dodge feed truck, relieved of some of its tires) Oh, man, I was so excited to meet Siri face to face. She was probably a beautiful black lady with a long afro. (I puffed higher) Wow. It was a lot farther to the top of that mountain of junk than I thought. (I stopped to pant) At last, I pulled myself over top of the1963 grain truck–
Was somebody kidding me? That summit cloud wasn’t cooling mist. It was dust. I couldn’t see a thing. What a big hoax.
Oh, well, since I was there already…
“Siri? Do you have a beautiful Afro?”
“This is about you, not me, Danni,” she said
“Then tell me what you look like, please.”
“Shiny,” she said.
“How old are you?”
“I don’t see why that should matter,” was Siri’s stiff reply.
(Mmhmm…I decided not to ask her how much she weighed.)
“Well, then, what does bootless mean?”
“Let me think about that…” she said. “This might answer your question.”
Shiny Siri beamed her info screen through the cloud of dust. Bootless appeared to be an english adjective meaning unproductive of success, consisting of eight letters and hyphenated thus: boot-less. Siri included a handy chart indicating the peak usage times of the word. Bootless usage took a big spike during 1550-1600 A.D., give or take some years. Another small spike occurred in the late 1800’s.
Hmm. Why would that be…?
Okay, I see hands literally shooting up all over the place out there.
(Oh, man. He’s aways got his hand up in the air…)
“Gramps, why don’t you give somebody else a chance once in a while?”
“Because I know the answer this time. When the American West was settled in the 1800’s, the native tribes commonly practiced takin’ a man’s boots so he had to walk barefoot over anthills, and cactus, and stuff. Bootless.”
“That’s ridiculous. Put your hand down. I need to move along to my
very kinda scientific survey.”
My survey consisted of twelve people:
3 Publicly Educated
2 Homeschooled/Publicly Educated
From the Homeschooled group, I had 2 correct answers and one almost right answer from my six-year-old granddaughter, code name: Blondie.
From the Publicly Educated group, I had some good guesses, but no banana.
From the Homeschooled/Publicly Educated group, again, good guesses, but no bananas there, either.
But, what do y’all think?
Leave your answers in the comment box and enjoy Tim Hawkins doing my personal favorite of his songs, Hey There Delilah. Until next time, God bless.