The Reading Room

- 2 -

The Fall of the Sumerian Corporate Empire

EMILLKE-JON-BON-JOVI, FORTY-THIRD in a long line of Sumerian god-kings(1), raced down the sands in his large chariot piloted by the traditional fifty-three eunuchs.

Hidden from view, and protected from the desert sands, harsh winds, and fresh air in general, Emillke commanded the eunuchs to stop the chariot. They all then dismounted from the chariot, with considerable difficulty, and the eunuchs saluted Emillke in the traditional manner : "Hail our immortal god-king and wise CEO! Hurray! Whoopee! Huzzah! Yaaaaaaaay!"(2)

Emillke then walked into the luscious Babylonian hotel(3) and was immediately set upon by a dozen hotel employees each pushing his or her "department's services to you, the customer."

"Please, please." Emillke said. "Just show me your finest room and worship me like the god I am and I will be happy."

"Fine enough." one said, and a general murmur of agreement broke out among the staff.

A bellboy led Emillke to a room on the third, and highest, floor of the building.

"Here it is, Sir. Our God-King Suite." And, sure enough, the brass plaque on the door read "GOD-KING SUITE."

The bellboy showed Emillke in, set down his luggage, and squeezed his nose a few times, the traditional Babylonian custom for requesting a gratuity.

Emillke slammed his fist into the bellboy's face, flooring him. "The audacity of these low natives is most unacceptable." he muttered as he shoved the unconscious bellboy into the hall.(4)

He entered the room, and his typically sinister grand vizier, Kiribati ben Ralph, slinked out of the shadows.

Now, thanks to a secret Pentagon project, two American spies were able to go back in time to this momentous moment (?) in history and record every word of this conversation. This has cleared up a lot of speculation about the fate of the Sumerian empire and has reaped untold benefits for today's historian.(5)

"Greetings, 'Most Trusted Advisor Who Would Never Ever Betray the Sumerian Corporate Empire'. What tidings have you from the Hippites - I mean, the Hittites?"

"Greetings, Great One. First, however, would you do me the honor of answering a most hypothetical question?"

"Indeed, Most Loyal and Trusted One."

"Let us say a purely hypothetical god-king whose name started with 'E' had a grand vizier named after a man named Ralph. And let us say this (of course completely fictional and modeled after absolutely no one) grand vizier pilfered about five hundred thousand, three hundred four gold shekels from the Divine Petty Cash. Now what would you - I mean this entirely hypothetical god-king - do when given this utterly fanciful situation which came out of my head just now?"(6)

"I would probably just get drunk, have an orgy, and forget about it while the entire empire fell in a state of total disrepair. I mean, what is a god-king to do for fun these days?"

Kiribati just rubbed his hands together with glee and drooled.

"Anyway, the Hittites demand one hundred thousand shares of Sumeri-Petro, one million gold shekels, an army of three thousand men, and twenty thousand Frequent Charioteer miles."

"Have they no shame?"

"Indeed." Kiribati replied.

"Well, what have the other viziers to say?"(7)

"The assistant vizier said 'nay', the second assistant vizier said 'yay', the third assistant vizier said 'nay', the assistant assistant vizier said 'yay', the royal cupbearer said 'nay', and my mother-in-law said 'yay'."

"Your mother-in-law said 'yay'? Tough break."

"Personally, I was against giving in to those fiends, but we really have no choice."

"Spoken like a truly grand vizier."

"But you know, my vizier's mother's high priest's third assistant vizier said that the Hittite king's grand vizier really works as a double agent and torched a Hittite lingerie shop."

"Does anybody do their own thinking in these troubled times?"

"I know. These days you have to send your vizier to sear a brasserie."(8)

Even Emillke let out a shudder at this awful attempt at humor.

Outside, the two American spies taping this conversation were so shaken by this horrible joke, as well as the sickening anachronism, they fell to their death three stories below.

Anyway, as should be obvious by now to any thinking reader, Kiribati was in reality a defector to the Hittites. And needless to say, he pilfered the petroleum shares, the money, turned the army over to the enemy, and used the charioteer miles to get as far away from Sumeria as possible.

But, as bad guys always get their due in world history(9), as he was running away, umm... gee, let's see - oh, yeah! He fell off the edge of the world! And he died a horrible death as he tumbled through the void! Yeah, that's a cool ending!

And so the Hittites invaded Sumeria with their superior iron weapons. And the Bronze Age officially ended and history issued forth that incredibly needless, interminable period of history known as...

[bum bum bummmmm!]


... so called because everything was made of ferrous material known to you and me as "iron". Iron swords, iron chariot wheels, iron boots, even iron toilet seats (but these weren't too popular in very hot or cold weather.) I tell you, how would you like to have your butt cheeks stick to the john until they were surgically removed? With an iron crowbar? Without anaesthesia, unless you're willing to be hit over the head with the crowbar? I tell you, the Iron Age sucked! And how about kid's toys? How would you like to give your toddlers cast iron junk? And what about car seats? You know how hot your car gets in summer? Imagine if it were all made of iron! I tell you, I am glad we live in the Foam Rubber Age!

1. Seventh god-king in the Bon-Jovi dynasty which began in the twenty-second century before the common era (whatever "the common era" means.)

2. Usually accompanied by two eunuchs on kazoos and one flower-girl strewing lotus petals in the god-king's path. The remaining eunuchs would jump up and down while singing. The god-king typically hid his face - because it was believed to be too glorious to behold, and to cover the usual forthcoming tears of embarrassment.

3. Home of the fabulous Hanging Gardens! Every room has a view of the desert! Located near the colorful downtown bazaar district! Make your reservations today - only three shekels a night! Call BAbylon 1-6839 for further information.

4. This anecdote is possibly where we get the expression "paying through the nose".

5. Really. A fair warning, though : The government will disavow any knowledge of this project.

6. Yes, Sumerian god-kings were that stupid.

7. Well, if there's a "grand" vizier, there must have been "not-so-grand" viziers.

8. My sincere apologies for recording this awful pun.

9. Yeah, right.

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