Wednesday, June 19, 2013

conundrum without the 'spiritual'

One of the most sparkling true tales in my life -- a great 'spiritual' story that had nothing to do with spiritual add-ons -- was this:

It was Thanksgiving and I was headed north to be with family. The Port Authority bus terminal in New York was neck-high in travelers and I stood patiently in line with the others headed in my direction. First one bus, then another and another had to be added to our overpopulated debarkation point. Finally, I got a seat at the rear of one of the buses. The seat next to mine was the only empty space on the bus and I waited for someone to fill it, then groaned inwardly as a plump young woman carrying a baby approached. Oh shit ... five hours of being squeezed in a seat built for anorexic Japanese people and a baby into the bargain!

But the young woman and her baby turned out to be a delight. We chatted with the increasing intimacy that only strangers who will never see each other again can enjoy. She told me about her family -- a Catholic brew of brothers and sisters presided over by a happy Polish father and a more subdued Irish mom. At dinner, the woman told me by example, the father might come through the door after work, survey his children at their dinner table, and then announce loudly, "Clara, you've got to feed these kids more beans! They're not farting enough!"

And the dad had more play up his sleeve: One night, after dinner, he explained to all the children that if they saved their farts in bottles, there was a man in Ireland who would pay them $1 apiece for them. For several weeks, all the kids saved bottles like fury. But when the collection became too great and the kids considered cashing in their savings, the father dropped the other shoe.

While it was true there was a man in Ireland who would pay $1 apiece for the captured farts, it would be necessary to paint each fart green before sending it off. The Irishman would only pay for green farts.

Ah, the agony of the dilemma! In order to get paid for what had been so lovingly captured, it would be necessary to open the jar to paint the captive. But the moment the jar was opened, the captive would escape.

The kids agonized for weeks on end, trying to devise a way to get paid for all their hard work.

They never found one.

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