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Punch Drunk: Alternative March Facts



We’ve all heard the saying, beware the Ides of March, and most of us can probably tell you that it was on the Ides of March, or March 15, when Julius Caesar was assassinated.

You probably also know that right before dying of multiple stab wounds, Caesar turned to his homeboy and was like, “for real, Brutus? That’s some messed up [last breath].”

After that, his other boy Marc Antony hooked up with his gal Cleopatra and fought some wars and stuff, although you probably know Antony best from his side job as an internationally famous Latin recording artist. He also had a brief dalliance with Jennifer Lopez.

Less well known is that the assassination is frequently re-enacted and celebrated annually at fraternities across the country, with men donning their bed sheets and then performing keg stands, which were totally a thing in 44 B.C. I’m told Octavian could stay perched on that keg for minutes at a time, and that eventually the Roman senate just got tired of holding his legs up.

I owe this wealth of knowledge to the Chesterfield County Public Schools. Thank you. Without you I would’ve just assumed that St. Ides Malt Liquor had fabricated this Ides holiday — which come to think of it, isn’t the worst idea. I’ll have to get with its branding people.

Caesar’s assassination was a major turning point in Roman history, as one of the key events that precipitated the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. You could be excused for not knowing much about this. Even Chesterfield County glosses this one over.

Caesar, better known as the creator of the much-beloved men’s haircut named after him, totally set the bar for the many murderous dictators to follow. These days you can’t even subjugate an entire race of people without thinking wistfully of ol’ J.C. Another lesser-known fact is that he most likely never said anything after being stabbed. The whole “Et tu, Brute?” malarkey was made up by some charlatan named Bill Shakespeare, a man best known for popularizing the one-earring look for men and not actually writing many of the plays attributed to him.

In regards to the Ides of March line, in the (maybe) Shakespeare play “Julius Caesar,” a fortune teller says to Caesar: “Beware the Ides of March.” But no one is sure that this happened, and frankly the Bard was always making stuff up.

According to Plutarch, another guy we probably can’t trust — he was like the CNN of ancient Rome — a seer had warned that harm would come to Caesar no later than the Ides of March. Plutarch states that on his way to the Theatre of Pompey, where he would be assassinated, Caesar passed the seer and joked, “The Ides of March are come,” implying that the prophecy had not been fulfilled, to which the seer replied, “Aye, Caesar; but not gone.” Plutarch had just done like, six keg stands before he recounted this story, so it’s hard to believe any of it.

Another thing to beware of in March is the many people across the nation who descend into madness, yelling at 18-year-olds on their television screens and tweeting things about how they wish Duke guard Grayson Allen were dead. Grayson is 21, though, so it’s totally fine for them to say such things. But seriously, for almost a whole month the entire nation goes mad. Gambling proliferates in offices and sports bars suddenly become very happening on Thursday afternoons. It’s terrifying.

And you can’t talk about keg stands and March without talking about St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, the famed Irish religious and cultural celebration of abject lawlessness that usually culminates with one of your buddies in the back of a squad car. That’s probably Octavian.

Nominally it’s about a saint named Patrick who converted the pagan Irish to Christianity. He never drove any snakes anywhere, though. That’s a pseudo-racist allegory that we all just ran with.

Nowadays the Irish diaspora — like your friends McIntosh and O’Connell — celebrate by wearing green, engaging in traditional Irish dancing and customs, and generally getting falling down, pee-your-pants drunk.

As someone who isn’t Irish, I do the exact same thing.

Gotta support my boys.

In an age of alternative facts and fake news, you can rest assured that, unlike Plutarch and Shakespeare’s drunken ramblings, everything I just said is true.

Now who among the senate will hold my legs as I drink from this keg of Natural Light? S

Jack Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at @jackgoesforth.