Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wise men of Gotham

Once upon a time, in the town of Gotham, where the men were as wise as geese. A traveler passed through. As he traveled through the town, he came across twelve men, upset and crying.
 The man who was not from Gotham  decided against his better judgement (as he had met people from Gotham before) to ask the wailing men what was the matter.
"We have lost one of us in the woods, but we do not know who is missing!" Said one of them, and the others nodded in agreement.
The man who was not from Gotham closed his eyes and held his palm to forehead as he sighed "And how do you know this?"
"Because, before we left, my wife counted us out, and sure enough there were twelve... but now, each of has counted, and only eleven remain... Such a terrible disaster!"
The man who was not from Gotham, head still in hand, glaring at his shoes, asked a question he already knew the answer to. "Could you show me then how you counted?"
And sure enough, he watched as each of the Gotham residents counted out to eleven. and each one forgetting to count themselves. "one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven! and each of us has come to this number! But who is it that is missing! Woe is us!"
The traveler then stated. "All right then. If you each pay me a coin, I shall solve your problem." And as quick as can be the Gotham men gathered the requested coin, and presented it to the traveler.
At which point the man who was not from Gotham took his walking stick, and struck each of the Gothamites in turn. "One. Two. Three.Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. and  here is Twelve!"
The people of Gotham were so pleased that they had found their lost townsman, that they quickly agreed to pay the traveler extra. And as the happy townsmen headed back, the man who was not from Gotham (who would eventually have a great career in tech support) continued on his way, slowly shaking his head while holding his bag of coins. 

I tell the stories of the wise men of Gotham  to my kids in the car on road trips. These tales have been around for a very long time.