794: Inside Joke
Title text: I've looked through a few annotated versions of classic books, and it's shocking how much of what's in there is basically pop-culture references totally lost on us now.
Inside jokes occur between friends and family members that live through a shared experience, which makes them laugh when they make reference to it later on. For people not "in the know", these inside jokes can come across as being completely incomprehensible, and in extreme cases just sound like random words strung together.
Randall posits the theory that this has been going on throughout history, and that historical figures probably had the same number of inside jokes as any modern group of high-school students. He probably chose to compare them to high-school students because that's generally the age where a person's social skills start to develop into an adult level - or not, in some cases.
The title text says that there are several classic books (the Odyssey comes to mind) that make pop-culture references to events that no modern reader was alive to see. Topicality sometimes has the unfortunate side-effect of really dating a work.
- [Two men with beards stand at a crude wooden counter, one is wearing a turban. Behind the man without a turban is a woman kneeling on the ground and putting something into a box.]
- Turban man: Nine silvers for a ham? That's too much!
- No-turban: Too much? There's a monk out back with a ladder!
- Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
- There's no reason to think that people throughout history didn't have just as many inside jokes and catchphrases as any modern group of high-schoolers.