Today’s guest blog comes from Sherrilee.
As many of us on the Trail have discussed before, as we get older, it’s an interesting phenomenon that information that used to be part of our cultural lexicon has passed out of usage. As the mother of a teenager I am constantly reminded that the younger generation doesn’t have the same cultural knowledge that my generation has.
When I was a kid, Lucretia Borgia was well-known as famous poisoner. I didn’t know much more about her except that she had lived in the olden days and wore a big ring that opened up to deliver deadly poisons to her enemies. In fact, I remember a Charlie Chan movie, Castle in the Desert, in which the femme fatale was a descendant of Lucretia and had inherited the venomous ring (which, of course, was the murder weapon). I have since read up and learned that poor Lucretia Borgia was greatly maligned and probably didn’t do any of the dastardly things that used to be “common knowledge” about her, although her father and brother were certainly very poor role models for anything remotely resembling nice guys.
Although she was born out of wedlock, her father, Pope Alexander IV, didn’t hesitate to use her for his political gain. He married her off repeatedly to political allies beginning at a young age. Then when the political winds shifted, he and her older brother Cesare arranged various endings for those marriages (annullment and murder topping the list). Her final marriage survived her father’s ambitions (and life) and she lived the remainder of her life in Ferrara. She died from complications of childbirth in 1513.
She was just thirty-nine
In my job, I arrange a lot of functions in hotels throughout the world – welcome receptions, breakfasts, theme parties, meetings. About 10 years ago, I was working with the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco and arranging the final night dinner for a small group. In discussing the evening, I asked where my event was scheduled and my contact replied “in the Borgia Room”. We finished our conversation but as I hung up the phone, I turned to one of my co-workers and laughed… “I’m not sure if I were one of my participants, I would want to have my final night dinner in the Borgia Room.”
My co-worker, who is not that much younger than I am, looked at me blankly. Not only did she not get my joke, but when I explained who Lucretia Borgia, it didn’t even ring a bell. I went on a small surveying trip around my department and with the exception of my boss, no one had heard of Lucretia Borgia. I was dumbfounded to realize that something I assumed was common knowledge was NOT.
My group’s dinner went off without a hitch and no one seemed concerned about eating a meal in the Borgia Room. But I have never forgotten it!
What things used to be common knowledge in your world, but aren’t anymore?