You're walking down the street when a portal opens in front of you, hurling you backward through time. "Damn," you think, "no Netflix. Plus, I'll probably die of polio." But then, you realize that, with your future knowledge, you could rule this place like a king! Perhaps life won't be so bad here after all. That's when you discover ...
6The American South Was One Big Eye-Gouging Fight Club
Today, our combat sports are made safe by a combination of athletic commissions and gentlemanly conduct. If you've ever seen a Floyd Mayweather fight, you might mistake boxing for an all-male foxtrot, with more hugging. Even the UFC, marketed as "AS REAL AS IT GETS," has several dozen rules to protect the combatants from dick attacks, bites, and dick bites. But, you've just landed in the American South during the 18th and 19th century: the dick-biting capital of Time.
And this is why Colonel Sanders refused to tell anyone how he flavored his meat.
If you were involved in a fight in the South back in the 1700s, you were lucky to leave with all your body parts. The aim of the game was to gouge out your opponent's eyeballs or, whenever possible, worse. Fighters had reputations for testicle maiming and even sharpening their teeth to tear off larger chunks of human. As English minister Charles Woodmason put it in a sermon in 1760:
"I would advise you when you do fight not to act like tigers and bears as these Virginians do -- Biting one another's lips and noses off and gouging one another -- that is, thrusting one another's eyes, and kicking one another on the cods, to the great damage of many a poor woman."
Speaking of things that could damage a woman sexually, here's what their fingernails looked like.
That's right, Southerners were so notorious for dick kicks and face biting that people brought it up in church. They fought like savage monsters, but they still had their own brand of showmanship. One losing fighter was told he had done badly by a spectator, and he replied, "Have I?" while pulling his opponent's eyeball from his pocket. Two hundred years ago, a gory handful of human flesh was how you quipped.
Speaking of gory balls, attempts to castrate another man during a fight were common. As famous explorer Isaac Weld described it, "What is worst than all is these wretches in their combat endeavour to their utmost to tear out each other's testicles."
He said while wearing a titanium codpiece and standing as close to Canada as humanly possible.
And these weren't only backwoods maniacs filing their teeth into points and sharpening their dick-gouging nails. American hero Davy Crockett apparently trained in the martial art of gouge n' bite. In his own words, he described a match thusly: "I kept my thumb in his eye, and was just going to give it a twist and bring the peeper out, like taking a gooseberry in a spoon." Unfortunately, the fight was interrupted before he could finish spooning out the man's ocular cavity, which is probably why there isn't a verse about it in his children's song.
Equally shocking: He was killing bears by age three, but never even bothered to maim Andrew Jackson.
The whimsy of Davy Crockett pulling faces apart doesn't do justice to the visceral horror of these fights or how commonplace they were. For instance, here is a passage from Gouge And Bite, Pull Hair And Scratch, a book documenting Southern mutilation karate. It was a fight that started as a disagreement over which state was the best and demonstrates how dramatic a match can be when both men are trained in this deadly fighting art:
"We found the combatants' fast clinched by the hair, and their thumbs endeavouring to force a passage into each other's eyes; while several of the bystanders were betting upon the first eye to be turned out of its socket. For some time the combatants avoided the thumb stroke with dexterity. At length they fell to the ground, and in an instant the uppermost sprung up with his antagonist's eye in his hand!!!"
They would see us lose our shit over boxers biting ears and be like, "That's adorable."
Eventually, these fights became less socially acceptable. Because if every argument has to be solved by way of eyeball removal, after you lose two arguments, you can never be wrong again. And that's not a sustainable civilization.
5You Could Get Killed By Voting
Your time portal has landed you in 19th-century America -- thankfully, not in one of the testicle-chomping parts. Now, to begin your play for world domination. First, get elected President -- why, with your knowledge of the future and advanced campaign tactics you should-
You're still lost in thought when a bunch of thugs kidnap you, fill you with booze, and gang-bang your vote out of you. That was a common practice of the time called "cooping." The targets were usually drunk or homeless men, who were filled with liquor until they could barely stand, and then threatened with torture or death unless they voted the right way. Cooping usually involved a few costume changes as well, since it would start to seem fishy if the same inebriated hobo kept coming back and voting at knifepoint. Some suspect this violent act of voter fraud was how Edgar Allan Poe died, which, impossible as it seems, is an even more depressing cause of death than he could have imagined.
Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The bourbon gave you years of four / Quoth the whiskey, have four more.
But, what if you wanted to control elections through violence, but didn't want to invest in hobo-voting liquor? Well, the Know-Nothing Party was a political group in the 1850s that hated immigrants, but loved showing potential voters pictures of people getting stabbed with a shoemaker's awl. Or, sometimes, they showed them the awls themselves, as they were stabbed into them. In many ways, they were more direct than modern politicians, but exactly the same amount of evil.
The Know-Nothing Party had another tactic called the "blood tub," and it was almost as bad as it sounds. They would get a tub full of blood from a local butcher shop, and, whenever they spotted a German or an Irishman, they would grab a sponge and squeeze blood onto their face.
Maryland Historical Society
Whenever they needed more blood, they would simply sharpen their awls and knives, and hold a stump speech.
So, the next time Donald Trump tries to win American hearts by complaining about all the Mexican rapists, realize it could be worse -- he could be stabbing, kidnapping, and blood-sponging them. Shit, we probably just wrote his next speech for him, didn't we?