Resorting to Anecdote

by Paul Violi

Subject: Timing

That French joke that I first heard decades ago?

           First Frenchman: How are you?

           Second Frenchman: My mother died today.

           First Frenchman: Hmmm….At what time?

           Second Frenchman: 10 o’clock.

           First Frenchman: Hmmm…10 o’clock… .

Well, I told it to a guy yesterday
And today he told me he’d told it
To a couple of Frenchmen.

They wanted to know what time it was
When I told it to him.

I told all this to Michael and Tony
At Café Loup tonight
And they wanted to know what time it was
When the guy told me what the Frenchmen said.

I said because my class ended
On the hour and I had walked down
A flight of stairs to the exit, stopping briefly
To speak with a student
who seemed inordinately worried
About a late paper, I could say
With the greatest confidence that
It was exactly three minutes passed 8.

They nodded and said no more.

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