Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

A Modern Parable for the Middle East

I originally posted this at Haitham Sabbah‘s and at Israel’s 60th Birthday blog, and cross-post it here now.

Curiously, I first came across this anecdote as a teenager in a local library book, and have never forgotten it. Through the magic of the web, I recently found the book online and fortunately this page was among the pages captured. Its taken from a treasury of humour compiled by the late science fiction author and polymath Isaac Asimov.

Jones, a wealthy financier, had on many occasion in the good old days – when trains were flourishing and coaches were the last word in technological luxury – crossed the continent by Pullman. He was well known and well served and was accustomed to every convenience, particularly when dining. Imagine his exasperation, then, when it turned out that the chef did not have tutti-frutti ice cream.

“No tutti-frutti?” he shouted. “I always have tutti-frutti.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” said the waiter, soothingly. “We have chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, black walnut, cherry, mocha almond -“

“I want tutti-frutti,” cried Jones, banging the table and turning red. “I have always had tutti-frutti and I won’t have anything else.”

For miles he muttered, scowled, growled, and snarled at everyone, so that every train employee on board had visions of angry reprisals. Finally, the train stopped at a station; a word to the conductor kept it there while the crew scoured the town for tutti-frutti ice cream.

A whole pint of the dessert was found and all of it was presented to Jones, with huge gobs of cherry sauce on it, together with a sliced banana and a swirl of whipped cream.

“Here is your tutti-frutti ice cream, Mr. Jones,” said the quaking waiter.

Jones looked at it with a scowl, then with a sudden swipe of his arm hurled it to the floor, shouting, “I’d rather have my grievance!”

Asimov adds, “And how many of the world’s miseries are caused by people who won’t be consoled because they would rather have their grievances. And how many speeches on the Middle East situation of the sixties and seventies might profitably [have begun] with a story like the one above”.

2 comments on “A Modern Parable for the Middle East

  1. Curtis
    29 December, 2008

    Wow. That parable also fits in well with my personal life these days.

  2. peoplesgeography
    30 December, 2008

    Glad it resonated, but I hope any grievances are resolved more successfully than this one! There’s a good sulk, and then there’s this type of generational grudge.

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This entry was posted on 23 December, 2008 by in Middle East and tagged .

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"