15 Mar

A twist on a twist on an old Zen Buddhist story…

One day, as a mother and her teenaged son were traveling through the countryside, they came to a river where the bridge had washed out. There they found an old woman, restlessly pacing the bank.


“Good day, madam!” the son called out. “Do you need any help?”

“Yes!” the old woman replied impatiently. “The bridge has washed out and I am needed immediately on the other side.”

“I am familiar with this river,” the mother shared. “It is not more than chest deep at the deepest spot. Perhaps my son and I can carry you across.”

“Well, lets hurry up and get on with it then!” the old woman said.

And so the mother and son decided that the son would start with carrying the old woman’s things and the mother would give the old woman a piggy-back ride across the river. They got the old woman onto the mother’s back and set across the river.

The water was cool but the current was not too swift as the threesome crossed. However, as they got towards the middle, the old woman shrieked out “My feet are getting wet! Carry me higher! My feet are getting wet!”

So there in the middle of the river, the son and the mother put the old woman upon his shoulders. But the old woman wasn’t stable there, so the mother had to brace and support her from the back. They continued on.

The old woman squirmed and squirmed, moaning about her wet feet. As she squirmed, she broke wind*, loudly and quite stinkily, into the mother’s face and the son’s neck.

Finally, they arrived at the other side of the river. The mother and son put the old woman down.

“About time!” she exclaimed as she grabbed her things, and she stomped off down the road without a backward glance.

The mother and son were glad that they were traveling in the opposite direction, and they continued upon their journey.

Before long, the son could not keep it in any longer. “The nerve of that old woman! She treated us like cattle, and then without even a ‘thank you’! I can’t believe how rude some people are.”

The mother nodded and agreed that the woman had been something.

As they continued, the son brought the old woman up again, and again. Each time, his blood pressure rose and he got more and more angry. His mother, however, didn’t seem to bothered by the experience at all. Finally, he couldn’t stand her lack of concern. “It was YOUR face she tooted* into! How can you be so nonchalant?” he demanded.

“Dear son, I forgave the old woman and put her down miles ago. You seem to still be carrying her.”


* When this was originally posted, it included the word “fart” in place of these euphemisms. However, it was quickly pointed out to me that for some people, that word is the “f-word” that should take its place with the other seven dirty words. I had no idea!   In my family, growing up and today, the word “fart” is as innocuous as its gas passing cousin “burp”.  However, in deference to those who find the word “fart” to be highly offensive, I have edited the story while maintaining, I believe, the impact. 

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