Monday, December 05, 2011


In The Flamingo's Smile, one of his collections of brilliant essays from Natural History magazine, Stephen Jay Gould tells a story about
the lady who visits her butcher one Friday morning, seeking a large chicken for the Sabbath meal. The butcher looks in his bin and finds to his chagrin that he has but one scrawny animal left. He takes it out with great fanfare and puts it on the scale. Two pounds.

"Not big enough," the lady says.

He puts it back in the bin, pretends to rummage amidst a large pile of nonexistent alternatives, finally pulls out the same chicken, puts it on the scale, and puts his thumb on the scale. Three pounds.

"Fine," says the lady. "I'll take them both."
Gould adds a footnote:

Jewish market day, Kensington Avenue, Toronto, Canada, 1924 (Toronto Public Library)
Dr. S.I. Joseph has since told me that he saw the same lady at a fruit stand later that day. She was asking about the price of grapefruit.

"Two for thirty-five cents," she learned.

"How much for one," she asked.

"Twenty cents," came the reply.

"Fine," she said. "I'll take the other one."

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