THE CHICKEN AND THE EGG
Once a chicken and an egg nearly came to blows over which should go first. “After you,” said the chicken. “No, no, I wouldn’t think of it,” replied the egg. “But I insist.” “And I insist you should go first.” The truth was that neither one, the chicken nor the egg, trusted the other to follow it. Not a single step. Instead, each was convinced the other represented the very alpha and omega of duplicity, nursing within a conniving heart the darkest of dark conspiracies to trip it up with some devilish subterfuge as yet unimagined but assuredly intended to gain some advantage, however minimal or short-lived, somewhere down the road. The pair could, of course, have agreed to start out together, side by side and arm in arm, as it were. But that possibility, if it did occur to either of them, must have vanished in a determination not to betray the slightest wavering in resolve and thus risk the loss of a convenient stalemate—a stalemate that denied the promise of any mutual advance, true, yet simultaneously removed all risk of taking a first step oneself that might later prove ill advised and, even more importantly, stalled the other. In short, the chicken and the egg came to the decision independently that preventing the taking of even a first step, either of its own or by the other, was the most promising course to follow. Such thwart-for-thwart co-obstruction not only removed the threat of being bested at the very start but also prevented the opponent, now seen as the archfiend incarnate, from enjoying the satisfaction of having gained an advantage by so much as half a stride anytime thereafter. Both the chicken and the egg felt a secret glee at the fast one they’d pulled on the other. Even though it meant they never advanced in the slightest from the spot they’d chosen to dig in their heels and make their stand. Each congratulating itself on its unwavering cleverness, there they remained as if frozen in time and space as the rest of the world rolled on and away. Until one of them eventually crumbled into a little pile of decayed obstinacy, while the other left not even a rotten whiff of itself in the wind.
Copyright © 2012 by Geoffrey Grosshans