A farmer has to transport a fox, a chicken, and a sack of corn across a river. She can carry only one item at a time. If left together, the fox will eat the chicken, and the chicken will eat the corn. How does the farmer do it?
The farmer begins by carrying the chicken across the river. But, as she does so, she notices her reflection in the water. She can barely recognize the person staring back at her, holding a chicken. “What’s happened to me?” she asks herself. She hasn’t picked up a paintbrush in more than a year. Now she’s carrying farm animals and sacks of grain across rivers. Is this why she spent two years at RISD?
A man sees a boat that is full of people. And yet there isn’t a single person on the boat. How is this possible?
Everyone on the boat is married, so there isn’t one single person on the boat.
The man wonders if it’s legal for a transportation system to discriminate against unmarried people. It doesn’t seem legal, but maybe maritime laws are different? Perhaps if things had ended differently with Heather, the man would be on the boat, too. He laughs sadly to himself. He was always single, even when he was with Heather. Love is an illusion. There are no purely unselfish actions. Heather and Dale deserve each other.
The man blows his nose. He didn’t even realize he’d been crying.
Which is heavier, a ton of feathers or a ton of gold?
Everything is equal in an infinitely expanding, cruelly indifferent universe.
A town has only two barbers. One of the barbers has a neat, tidy haircut, and the other has a shaggy, messy haircut. Which barber should a townsman go to?
The man should go to the barber with the shaggy, messy haircut.
But he goes to the barber closer to his apartment. It’s been years since the man cared about his appearance. He sits down in the barber’s chair. Long hair, short hair, messy hair—it’s just going to keep receding. He can’t stop it from receding.
“Are you sure you want me to cut your hair?” the barber says, with a wink. “After all, how could I have given myself this neat, tidy haircut?”
“I’m going to die someday,” the man whispers.
A woman lives in a yellow one-story house. Everything in the house is yellow. What color are the stairs?
There are no stairs, because the woman lives in a one-story house. The woman wishes she could afford a two-story house. Or at least one with a furnace and more natural light. But a one-story house makes sense. She lives alone. What does she need all the extra space for? Another cat? A family?
She pulls up a blanket, shivering. The yellow walls are starting to drive her insane.
A man is locked in a room with only a piano. How does he escape?
The man uses a piano “key” to escape. Then he uses religion to escape, then drugs, then a relationship that clearly won’t work out in the long term, then unhealthy food, then rage, then the “key” again, because it’s a cycle, it’s an endless cycle, and he can never truly escape until he accepts that she’s really gone.
A woman running a marathon overtakes the person in second place. What place is she in now?
She is now in second place. She’s always in second place. Stephen was right.
A man turned off the light and went to bed. Because of this, several people died. Why?
The man lives in a lighthouse; when he turned off the light, two ships crashed. For months, the man is wracked with guilt—how could he forget to keep the light on? What was he thinking? Years pass. The man moves to a small inland town. He attends group therapy regularly. At one session, he meets a widow of three years. She is beautiful in a quiet way. They get married. She never questions why he refuses to turn off the lights at night. Days become decades. They don’t have children, but they are happy together. One day, the man visits an antique shop and breaks down sobbing when he sees a ship in a bottle. He asks his wife to drive him to the ocean. She does. She knows not to ask why. They arrive. The man forgives himself. He finally forgives himself.
~ Ethan Kuperberg