My favourite two jokes, and a little fable

< Up  << KAhome

First Joke: 

A man asks an attractive girl he has just met in a posh bar: "If I give you $ 1000, will you go to bed with me?" After briefly considering this, she answers: "Yes, for $ 1000 I think I will."

He continues: "Unfortunately I don't have that much money; so will you go to bed with me for $ 20 ?" "Of course not!" she replies. "Who do you think I am? What kind of girl do you take me for?" He coolly returns: "We have already established what kind of girl you are. We are just haggling over the price now."

Second Joke:


Sigmund Freud
At one time, when Sigmund Freud was about to travel to America, which at that time did of course have to be by boat, some friends and colleagues of his had travelled with him to Bremen, where he was going to board the steamer. Amongst them was Carl Jung, who had been considered something like the 'crown prince' of the psychoanalytic movement, the person to follow Freud, but who had already started to go his own way, so that relationships were somewhat less than cordial.

Freud and Jung had arranged to meet the day before his departure, in a cafe in the city, for a last conversation and to say good-bye. Freud waited for quite a while, but Jung did not turn up.

When Freud returned to his hotel, his colleagues there asked him how the meeting had been. When Freud told them that Jung had not come, they teased him, referring to Freud's own ideas about parapraxes (slips of the tongue and so on): "That, Herr professor," they said, "is the working of the unconscious." – To which Freud replied: "Yes, but not the unconscious of a gentleman."

[While this story may be apocryphal, it nevertheless seems to me to make an important point.]

A little fable:

This is my own, free re-telling of a rather longer version of this 'fable' (as he called it) written, in German of course, by Hermann Hesse, in 1917.

The European

The fighting in Europe had been going on for some time, when the Lord in His mercy, though contrary to a promise he had made to man some thousands of years earlier, at last sent another flood.

Concern about the rising waters did not stop the fighting. In fact, the Europeans proved their persistence in the face of the threat; millions of prisoners of war were employed along the coasts everywhere to build dams to protect the land from flooding. And when the dams could no longer stem the tide, huge platforms were erected, which eventually became so high as to resemble towers surrounded by water. And all the while the Europeans proved their courage: from each tower shells continued to be hurled against the other towers, until the very end.

When even the last tower had become submerged, there was a single European, in a life jacket, floating on the water. While drifting, he was busily writing an account of the recent events – to prove to a future mankind, if there was going to be one, that it had been his country that had survived all the others, by twenty minutes.

But then a huge wooden boat appeared and came closer, and the European was picked out of the water by a big African man. This boat had a large variety of passengers. There were two of every species of animal, and also of the different human races: thus there were Hindus from India, as well as Chinese from China, and Negroes from Africa, all living together happily, though they were quite cramped, even on that big boat. In charge of the boat was an old man with a white beard, who told them that it would take some time, perhaps a few weeks, before the waters would have dispersed so that they would be able to get onto dry land again.

While the others had a merry time getting to know each other better, the European sat in a corner and continued to write his history of the recent events. Eventually, though, everyone was beginning to get slightly bored, and so they thought up a game to entertain themselves. "How would it be," they said, "if each of us showed the others what our species is best at?" So that is what they did, and the days passed very quickly with all the interesting and varied displays. There were insects which could make themselves invisible on a piece of wood, and animals of some species were able to run at incredible speed from one end of the boat to the other. The human beings too showed some special skills. The Chinese explained a way of more than doubling the yield of rice, by planting the seedlings close together at first, and then replanting those that had grown; the Africans performed some exciting dances to the beat of drums; and everyone was amazed when the Hindu lay down on a bed of nails.

The European meanwhile had continued writing by himself and shown hardly any interest in the events. In the end it was only he who had not yet demonstrated any special skill or ability, so all the others turned to him and asked him what he was good at. After thinking for a while the European said that his special ability was that he had reason. "Show us, show us," they all shouted. "It is not something one can show," the European replied. "It means thinking about how we should lead our lives." That was something they were all very interested to hear about, so they asked him to tell them how to lead their lives. "It is not like that. Reason is thinking about how things are in general and how they should be." The others weren't sure at all what he meant, and they asked him all kinds of questions at once. "You don't want to understand me," he shouted, getting a little angry. "Reason is the most important thing but it is only in the mind." By that time the others started to be rather disappointed. If it was only in the mind, reason couldn't be such an important thing. In the end, it was the African who came to the European's rescue. "My friends," he addressed everybody. "Can we not just agree that our European comrade here is a joker? True, none of us here is able to understand his jokes, but I am sure they would be very funny if we could." They all applauded that and started laughing and talking amongst themselves.

Now, in the evening, the other human beings on board went to see the old man with the white beard, and said to him: "On the whole we know why we are all here. With us life on earth has to start again, and we do of course want all possible variety, and we should be open-minded towards others. But still, we don't understand why that European is here." The old man gave them a little smile, and replied: "I do see your point. But haven't you noticed something? You are all here as couples, a male and a female, and will be able to continue your species as you are; only he is here on his own."

∧ Top  < Up  << KAhome

picture of Freud from: Microsoft Bookshelf 1993.