Monday, September 12, 2011

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Because I have siblings in three countries, including (and limited to) San Francisco, India, and the United States, sending various quizzes per email is a major hobby of mine. In a recent quiz, called the "sibling challenge," I asked my brothers and sisters to correctly identify the original sources of nine historically common responses to the timeless question: "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

Recent(-ish) surveys show that the average reader of this blog is 67% as nerdy as my siblings (who, in a freak coincidence--which, I am told, has nothing to do with being raised by our parents--share exactly the same nerdiness rating), so I won't make you identify the quotes from scratch. Instead, try to match the answers above to the sources below.


a) To turn into a fairy.

b) To prove he wasn't chicken.

c) To eat the cake.

d) To prove to the gophers he could do it.

e) To eat YOUR FACE!!! HA! HA! HA! HA!

f) Because it was there.

g) Because the grass is greener on the other side.

h) Well, I talked to the chicken, and she said she didn't intend to cross the road, but the road has thin skin and it's not her fault at all that he took what she said the way he did. As for herself, she's done talking to the road. There's no reasoning with him at all.

i) I can't find the most recent sibling challenge. What is it?


j) This one is from H. C. Andersen (1805-1875). In an early short story entitled "A Journey on Foot from Holmen's Canal to the East Point of Amager," Andersen describes a forlorn chicken's quest to find an back-alley witch who is purported to own a magical feather. When the witch produces a knife instead, the chicken transforms into a fairy and flies away, weeping for the cruelty of mankind until a rainbow forms in her tears.

k) Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867). In a separate poem, Baudelaire urged the chicken to "be drunk! so as not to be the martyred slave of time!"--an admonition which resulted in a fatal hit-and-run, the chicken lost to time under the wheel of an anonymous assassin's bicycle.

l) commonly misattributed to Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna a.k.a. Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), this quote is actually derived from Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), who in De Amore Dei used the chicken, the road, and the cake as allegorical symbols for the soul, mortality, and the love of God, respectively.

m) Horace Greeley (1811-1872) praised the chicken for its pioneer spirit and commitment to westward expansion.

m16) Oswald C. Cobblepot (1941-????), also known for the famous folk maxim: "It could be worse: my nose could be gushing blood. RAAAR!"

n) Chauncey Gardiner (1925-1980) may have averted a recession by this famous statement of confidence: he seems to have meant that the chicken is impervious to ominous indicators of looming troubles; it will always feel a need to cross the road simply because it is there. Unfortunately, Gardiner faded from the public scene before he could be nominated as a candidate for President.

o) Cheech Marin (1946-2037), explaining away his conveniently-timed 1967 emigration to Canada.

q) Prince Cem of Osman (1459-1495). Later, while nominally under the custody of Pope Innocent VIII, Cem would confess he actually had known how the sibling challenge was supposed to work.

p) Madeleine Albright (1937-2021). Shortly after this comment, tighter trade restrictions were placed on North Korea.

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