If Tabloids Were History Books

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Can you imagine what the ancient world would have been like if the National Enquirer or any of the other scandal rags had been around forever? I was thinking about that very thing after I looked at a movie poster of Liz Taylor as Cleopatra sailing down the Nile in the royal barge. It reminded me of the Island Princess chugging by Couchiching Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon in July – well it might have for you too if you had been drinking.

I wonder how the headlines would have read if the Enquirer had covered Cleopatra’s first meeting with the Romans out in the desert.

Cleo bares asp in Roman tent.

I hate to tell you this but Cleopatra was not the Mother Theresa of her day. Her bedroom antics would have made Hollywood bed-hopping seem like the innocent pajama parties of the Brownie Division of the Girl Guides Association.

And the devious lady pharaoh’s political machinations would leave the Prime Minister’s Office envious. Scandal sheet reporters today would have had a field day listing all her lovers and trying to keep her murders straight. She had her own brother, Ptolemy, bumped off which is a no-no in most societies. My sister once threw a hairbrush at me and we had her banished to Winnipeg.

Cleo’s death wasn’t intentional; she didn’t notice her asp was in her bra, an oversight you ladies out there should keep in mind. Always check before strapping one on.

Throughout history there has been scandal after scandal among the rich and famous and most of the groping participants got away with it. Sure we learned of a few. Sir Lancelot and the fair Guinivere shocker set Camelot on its ear. Here we are assuming there was such a couple and they were not the figment of some mead-soaked Brit’s imagination. I hope not, or it sets us wondering if there really was a Robin Hood, a Scarlet Pimpernel or a Boris Johnson.

Was Elizabeth the First really the Virgin Queen like the history books tell us, or was she a 16th century Pamela Anderson without the implants. If the Enquirer and other fine magazines of that ilk had been around at the time, there would have been stories to prove it one way or another with line drawings and clever articles to fire up the erotic fantasies of peasants and nobles alike.

She was not a handsome woman, our Liz, and I would think any lover would likely have had his seeing-eye dog waiting out in the hallway.

I’ve always suspected there was something going on between Her Majesty and Sir Francis Drake in spite of the fact the Vice-Admiral wore puce leotards and had a girl’s name. Scholars tell us Sir Francis was playing at bowls when news of the Spanish Armada reached him. But I happen to know the bowling alley was closed that afternoon when some idiot spilled coke on lanes 3 and 4. That leaves us with the only logical conclusion. Drake was sailing toy boats in the bathtub with the Queen.

There are so many stories those of us with a passion for history and little to do would like to know. An ever-vigilant press would have kept us up on the late night couplings of the movers and shakers of long ago instead of leaving us lying awake at night stewing. Both Julius Caesar and Marc Antony fathered children with Cleopatra. Were they just casual affairs or were they tag-team events that filled the Coliseum on a Sunday afternoon? I know I would have paid to see that, especially if they had to fend off wild animals at the same time.

The parents of today worry about children coming in right in the middle of the bedroom festivities. What would they do if a 400-pound lion started gnawing on the husband’s leg?

Wouldn’t that be a waste of a Viagra pill? And there’s no money back guarantee on those suckers you know. Well I really don’t know. I’m only 82 and decades away from needing that sort of artificial stimulant. From what I hear from the less virile men at the golf club, and I could name them, and still might, they are expensive.

But the history we all had drummed into us had to be true didn’t it? I mean who would lie to a bunch of school kids?

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