I spent this beautiful Houston weekend grading research papers. Each of my students wrote a critical analysis on a British masterwork of his or her choice. One of them had the line, “Beowulf was written by Holt McDougal.” Just in case you don’t know, Holt McDougal is the company that produces our textbook. But it made me think about a fictional scenario where this was true.
Holt McDougal was a pale, waifish member of a small Germanic tribe that existed in 400 A.D. called the Wulfings. While the other boys were learning to hunt, loot, and plunder, he was busy taking copious notes and editing bards’ songs, for he was not talented enough to write any of his own. He often corrected their grammar and found ways to abridge songs that were too long. He even came up with vocabulary questions to help the other tribesmen understand the more complex words. To increase his tribes’ comprehension of the songs, he drew pictures in the dirt. When Holt came around, the bards sighed because they knew they would be corrected by the carping, nagging little nerd. While he thought he was doing a great service, the Wulfings eventually ousted the meticulous yet annoying little editor, and he was forced to start his own tribe. Others who possessed no real talent followed him.
The McDougals were an unsuccessful tribe because no one could hunt and do anything purposeful in life. They somehow managed to survive by avoiding conflict and eating roots and berries. They still exist today. They are still annoying and talentless. They still remain on the root/berry diet.