|go ahead... be a heretic|
I always kind of liked PERL. It has an ominous, all-powerful sound to it, kind of like COBOL ;-)
The real test is which sounds more impressive Perl vs Ruby, or PERL vs Ruby. Do not underestimate the power of the allcaps!
And to the original poster:
First a clarification of the above: Perl is the correct way to refer to the language, perl refers to the actual executable. Hence, you hear sayings like "Only perl can parse Perl." PERL is just a common incorrect spelling of Perl. Of course, anyone who actually bothers to learn these things, and especially bothers to correct people about them, has way too much time on their hands ;-)
As for leading a sheltered programming existance, do you know any other languages? Perl is just a language. There are a great many things Perl simply cannot do, and many more that it is horrible inefficient (in execution time, memory use, maintainability, and more) at doing. If you haven't already learned them, I recommend taking the time to learn Python (or Lisp, I prefer Python), C, and Prolog (that order is probably best).
If you already know those languages, or are just looking to expand in Perl's realm here are a few things you should definately check out:
Also, you may wish to take a more detailed look at other methods of data representation. Compare different databases (relational or otherwise) and more advanced data structures and the algorithms that manipulate them. Information theory is also extremely interesting albeit a bit out of the scope of your question.
Oh, and one more thing. Avoid Perl poetry and Obfuscation like the plague. That shit will mess you up permanantly ;-)