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09.22.2006

The Carp

(by Sławomir Mrożek)

We have to buy a carp for the holidays. To keep the carp alive that long, you have to keep him in the tub. But to put him in the tub, you have to take out the coal. You can store the coal in the hallway, but then where do you put the potatoes? We thought about it, thought about it, and then my mother-in-law came up with a solution: you put the potatoes in the kitchen, the coal in the hallway, and the carp in the bathtub. All right, but then what do you do with the bunnies? Move them out of the kitchen, of course. That's easy to say. But where to? We talked about it, talked about it, and finally came up with the idea of putting the bunnies in the basement. But grandpa is in the basement. What to do with grandpa? We can put grandpa over where the television is, but then where do we put the television? We could put the television over where the lodger has his folding bed. But then where would the lodger sleep? The lodger could sleep in the bathtub, but the carp's already in there.

So what to do? No way out of the situation. The holidays coming up, and nowhere to stick the carp. We thought about it and nothing came of it. A real stumper.

It was sheer chance that provided the solution. Coming home early one day, I noticed that the lodger was sleeping with my wife, in my usual place. So I moved the coal from the bathtub into the hallway, the potatoes from the hallway into the kitchen, put the bunnies in the basement, moved grandpa from the basement to where the television was, and moved the television over to where the lodger used to sleep.

And where am I, you'll ask? What about me?

Me? I'm standing in line for the carp.

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