I was walking down the street one day when a man came up to me and said very quickly, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
Well he seemed like a friendly enough chap. So I said to him, “What?”
And he said, even more quickly this time, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
Now friendly as this chap seemed, I thought he might be a bit confused, for why would he repeat his question even faster the second time, when I didn’t understand him in the first place. So I asked him very kindly, “What my good man is the meaning of all this talk?”
And again, this time with his mouth moving at a clip that would make a newspaper press envious, he said, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
Now I realized I was dealing with one of those big talkers my mama had warned me about---you know the type, a lot of words come out of their mouth, but not a lot is being said. They usually have a crooked smile on their face…wear slick clothes and shiny gold in all the right places so that people are inclined to take them serious.
So, fool that I am, and one with a tendency to cut to the chase of a problem, I said to the man, “How much time are you giving the woodchuck?”
And he looked at me a bit surprised and said, “What?”
So I said, “If you are asking me how much wood a woodchuck could chuck, how much time are you giving the woodchuck to chuck the wood?”
Now the smile on the man’s face faded and it seemed as if he was a bit confused and maybe even getting upset. So being a fair fool, I said more slowly this time, “You asked me how much wood a woodchuck could chuck. Well I’ve known a few woodchucks in my day, and if you told me how long your woodchuck was chucking wood, I might be able to answer your question. For instance, are you giving him a minute, an hour or a day…or is he working year round except for Sundays and holidays and two weeks vacation?”
Now the man was definitely getting angry and maybe even disgusted with me. And he said, “Are you an idiot?”
And I said, “No…I may be a fool…but I’m no idiot. I’m just trying to understand you.”
Now I don’t know if he had no answer for me or he didn’t like my very genuine smile...but his face grew red and it looked like he wanted to hit me. So, realizing this was one of those creatures who thrives off pointless argument and who always must get their way, I’d decided I’d had enough. So hey, even though he started the joke, I held out my hand as a good sport and wished him a good day. Now I don’t know if he thought I had too much dirt under my fingernails or what, but he just stomped away muttering something under his breath that I figured was just more of his gibberish.
And that’s what happened when I was walking down the street one day.