Good fortune is a relative thing. The Roman Emperor Valentinian, for instance, had three stock responses when he was displeased with someone’s behavior.
Good fortune is a relative thing.
The Roman Emperor Valentinian, for instance, had three stock responses when he was displeased with someone’s behavior.
According to historian Edward Gibbon, one of them was, “Strike off his head.”
This would seem to be a stroke of bad fortune.
Except that Valentinian’s other two options were the following.
Either, “Burn him alive.”
Or, “Let him be beaten with clubs till he expires.”
Someone familiar with the judicial process in the last stages of the Roman Empire would no doubt be gleeful to receive a disposition of “strike off his head.”
I can just envision a smiling centurion remarking to the guy sitting next to him in the docket, “Boy, sure dodged a trident there.”
It was around Christmastime last year that I was relegated to traveling on the bus when, ironically, my car’s time belt ran out of time.
As I was running to catch the bus one very cold night, a passerby heading to his car made a disparaging remark.
I was in a hurry, so I kept my retort to the first couple of words that came to mind.
Anyway, I was still a novice ’burbs bus traveler, and it turned out that the driver had to wait a few more minutes to see if any shoppers from the department store where the bus stop was located needed a ride home.
And it turned out that a family group did emerge from the store, consisting of a woman who appeared to be in her 60s, and four children, ranging from age 5 or so to 11. They were all burdened with one package or another from the store.
The kids were immediately impressed by the bus, and kept saying how nice and new it was.
I looked around and failed to see what was so nice and new about it.
It seemed to me to have traveled a fair distance from the new bus lot.
But the family settled in like it was a stretch limo, especially the little boy.
He remarked with the authentic sincerity that only a 5-year-old can possess, “I love this bus.”
It was like hearing Tiny Tim saying “God bless us, every one.”
I was first off the bus, and I never saw that family again.
But I hope the little boy continues to have good fortune.
Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Raynham, Mass., office, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.