A couple thousand years ago,
Around the gulf of Mexico,
Lived a people we now remember as the Mayans-
They had pyramids, calendars, and sacrifices,
But among their more devilish devices
Was an invention that left the entire world cryin'.
I’m talking about a bit fat "zero" here,
The numerical "O",
Or Spaghetti O's,
Or the Story of O,
Or Yo Ho Ho (and a bottle of rum),
(Though a fifth of Bacardi would add to the fun)-
Think instead of a rounded, portly digit
That some people use to represent an idgit.
Yes, I’m talking about absolutely nothing,
Or at least something that stands in for a nothing,
So nothing is really something,
If you accept the twisted logic as this rumination presents it.
Somebody called me a zero once,
Which was supposed to mean that large portions of my brain were zip-
He meant it as an insult I'm sure, but I took it as a compliment.
I guess the guy never took the time to figure how important that
symbol of nothing really was.
I mean, Double "O" Seven was a neat-o spy,
And little zeros on a check say how much pizza you can buy,
And a guy named Mostel was branded Zero,
and he turned out to be quite a guy...
But getting back to the Indians of South America,
The Mesoamerican urbanites who savaged numerica
By disrupting a perfectly happy world and sending everyone on a
pathetic counting fling-
They gave us nothing,
So now we really don't have anything,
And all of our subsequent achievements have gone for naught.
So I sat in a corner and gave this some thought-
Before they came up with nothing, they must have had SOMETHING,
And I wonder what is was the ancients had?
Was it big or small, good or bad?
Was it made of gold?
Or carved from stone?
Could you write odes to it on a flute-o-phone? Was it more impressive than my grandma's collection
of three-quarters-full Avon cologne decanters?
Was it the type of thing that would stimulate banter
between the intelligentsia of a hundred different nations?
Oh, to be back when the world was here,
So we could just sit and talk and drink a beer
Instead of just gathering dust in an abstract number's
So the next time someone asks me why I don't make something of myself,
Get a real job, a haircut, a house, make payments on a brand new pickup
I can tell them with a knowing smile that I'm justified in doing nothing with my life,
Because years before I got a chance to try, those damn Mayans
screwed it up.
Eric Miller is a writer living in California, and the editor of Hell Comes To Hollywood.