Readers send in all sorts of “day brighteners” — some are usable, some are impossibly X-rated and some are so politically incorrect I would be nuts to use them in a column. However, a reader sent in what is clearly a joke, and my first reaction (after laughing) was to set it aside.
Then the darn thing started to haunt me, and here’s why. A young person who is very important to me spent several years in the Middle East hoping to “bring a little light to a very dark corner of our world.” I don’t think he succeeded very much, as has happened to so many others full of idealistic hope and missionary zeal. Now, that young man is safely back in America rebuilding a life for his wife and children. During those recent years there were many of us praying for the safety of the family, and we were all vastly relieved when this journey was over. I would love to tell you all about him, his family, our relationship and what he is doing now, but frankly I am too paranoid to disclose his name or any personal details.
Here is the joke with editing on my part, but you can probably figure out the changes.
• • •
The Tie Salesman
A fleeing thief, desperate for water, was plodding through the Afghan desert when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he hurried toward the mirage, only to find a very frail little old man standing at a small makeshift display rack, selling ties. The thief asked, "Do you have water?"
The man replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $5."
The thief shouted hysterically, "Idiot infidel! I do not need such an over-priced western adornment; I spit on your ties. I need water! Pahh! A curse on your ties. I should wrap one around your scrawny little neck and choke the life out of you, but I must conserve my energy and find water!"
"Okay," said the old man. "It does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie from me or that you hate me, threaten my life and call me infidel. I will show you that I am bigger than any of that. If you continue over the hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a restaurant. It has the finest food and all the ice-cold water you need. Go in peace."
Cursing him again, the desperate thief staggered away over the hill.
Several hours later, he crawled back, almost dead and gasped, "They won't let me in without a tie!”
• • •
You never saw that coming, did you? And that, dear readers, is a seriously edited version of The Tie Salesman.
Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock. She is the author of “Good Grief: A Collection of Stories As One Woman Journeys From Heartbreak To Healing Through Honesty and Humor” (Dancing Moon Press). The book (with all proceeds going to Rotary International) is available at JC Market in Newport and directly from Bobbie, who can be contacted at [email protected]