THE CHICKEN AND THE EGG
Once a chicken and an egg nearly came to blows over which of them should go first. “After you,” said the chicken. “No, no, I wouldn’t think of it,” replied the egg with exaggerated politeness. “But I insist.” “And I insist you go first.” The truth was that neither of them trusted the other to follow it. Not a single step. Instead, each was convinced the other represented the very alpha and omega of knavery, nursing within a conniving heart the darkest of dark plots to trip it up with some diabolical subterfuge as yet unimagined but assuredly intended to result in some advantage, however minimal or short-lived, somewhere down the road. The chicken and the egg 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 quickly vanished in a determination not to betray the slightest wavering in resolve and thus risk the loss of a convenient stalemate—a deadlock that denied the promise of any mutual advance, to be sure, yet simultaneously removed all risk of taking a first step oneself that might later prove ill-advised and, even more importantly, blocked the other from edging forward undetected. In short, the chicken and the egg came to the decision independently that preventing even a first step from being taken either by oneself or by the other was the most promising course to follow. Such mutual thwart-for-thwart obstruction not only removed the threat of being bested at the very start but also denied the opponent, soon to be seen as the arch-fiend incarnate, 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 each other, even though it meant they never advanced in the slightest from the spot where they’d chosen to dig in their heels and make their stand. Congratulating themselves on their clever subterfuge, the pair remained as if caught in a space-time trap while the rest of the universe rolled on. Until one of them eventually moldered away to a pile of dusty feathers, while the other left not even a rotten whiff of itself on the wind.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans