I was taking a cold shower this morning in anticipation of stomping over to the bowling alley, loins frighteningly girded (dragon decals: $14.95 from Canadian Tire) in hopes of trouncing Morton Slaf-Kabnecier once and for all, tarring and/or feathering him and riding him out of town on a suitable facsimile of a rail (Mooburg having lost its train station and most of its tracks during the last Glee-and-Perloo riots. As I remember, it was a disagreement about a parking space.)
I checked the shower stall for rumbling pipes, but the noise turned out to be someone knocking on the bathroom window.
It was Miles Limitedlifetimewarranty, our local Etruscan Language merchant.
"Is it too much to ask for some privacy?" I eeked, knowing full well that Miles had been hospitalized six months ago for exposure to eeking beyond the threshold of endurance.
"I knew you don't answer your front door any more. Sorry about the hole in the window," said Miles, re-installing his kneecaps.
The Etruscan language (you will recall) erupted in the ancient region of Etruria (currently Tuscany in Italy). Fortunately, no one was standing under it at the time.
No complete translations into modern languages have yet been produced. However, some partial scripts do exist. What there is, Miles sells at bathroom windows.
These are based on an inscribed stele, found behind an ancient Coke machine in a gas station on the island of Lemnos, and dated to the 6th century BCE. The Coke machine is now at the National Museum of Hoboken, where it gets lots of offers, but no dates worth writing home about. The 6th century date (his last one) is certain because the Greek general Bioflavonoides invaded Lemnos at that time and ensured its low-carb status for the coming millennium. The stele bears a low-relief depiction of an Apple iPad, and is inscribed in an alphabet similar to alien alphabets brought back to earth by the often-abducted Milt Stroganoff, a real estate agent from Peoria. (It is a municipal offence in Mooburg to have a first name beginning in any letter other than "M". I, for example, am known in my hometown as "Maardvark Mal".)
The phrases, which run left-to-right then right-to-left as do most law-abiding Etruscan inscriptions, are reported in Hans Meyer Schweinschwandt, Farginbastiches Handbuch des Etruskischen, pages 284-292. They are as follows:
Verse 18, line 3: "I (will) have the (the) veggieburger (L. vegus, Fr. vegetable; It. Veggimaestro 2000) (but) I do respectfully (L. respectare) pray thee to hold the fries (L. patato, patatas, patate, potamus, potatis, potatant. Fr. poutine)."
Verse 23, line 14: "I command (thee) to assemble/bring together (L. coeo-ire-iv-itum) the food (L. escarius) of eternity (L. aevum-in, n. a. aevus-i, m.), but no onions or jalapeños, please. I (have) a date (L. datus-ire-iv-itum) later on this evening."
Verse 56, line 2: "The land (L. ager, agri) suffers a heinous blight (L. blitio, blitere, bliti, blitum) since the (%#*#&!) pop machine will have produced (L. productere; third person singular subj.) mostly bubbles."
Verse 93, line 16: "Dost (thou) want thy fries? The cup of Stanley he hastens (L. haereo, haerere, haesi, haesum) to contest it not (It. no, adv. no, not; Fr. non, adv. no, not) and woe/alas! (L. ai!, oh! interjection of grief) the playoffs I miss! I venerate (L. pio-are) the Calgary Flames (L. flamus; hence, refuge, protection) but abjure (L. abjurere) the Leafs."
Unfortunately for Miles, I have three rooms full of unused Etruscan phrases, and I am in no mood to dally (in fact, my dallying license has recently expired). Consequently, I climbed out of the bathroom window after him, rocketing in a Mortward direction, making first sure that I was modestly (modesto, modesterere, ohthehellwithit) girded, loinwise.
“Arc-lamped, thrown back upon the cutting flood!” I shouted.