an old prospector was sitting in front of his campfire and a rattlesnake came along and bit him.
when the old prospector expired, a coyote came along and took a few bites out of his carcass.
then the rattlesnake and the coyote sat around in front of the dying embers of the old prospector’s fire and swapped yarns.
the rattlesnake told this tale.
once upon a time there was a little grain of sand.
the little grain of sand lived in the middle of a sunny beach.
one day a senior systems analyst came along and told the little grain of sand that she could be granted four wishes.
the grain of sand’s first wish was to become a pearl, in a string of pearls around the neck of a beautiful princess.
that is one wish, said the senior systems analyst, what are the others?
i will save them for later, replied the grain of sand.
very well, replied the senior systems analyst, i will see you again next year.
a year went by and the grain of sand was happy being a pearl, but when the senior systems analyst returned to hear the second wish, the pearl asked to become a princess herself.
this wish was granted, and the senior systems analyst promised to return in a year.
when the year was up, the princess told the senior systems analyst that she was happy being a princess, but that she would like to be married to a handsome movie star and to be taken away by him to an estate on a private island .
very well, said the senior systems analyst, but you understand that that counts as two wishes, one to marry the movie star, and one to live on the island, and that you will thereby use up all your wishes.
the princess agreed, and found herself on the private island under a blue sky, married to the handsome movie star.
when the princess went for a walk on the beach on the island, she realized it was the very beach she been a grain of sand on herself.
and she was walking along stepping on all her little brothers and sisters who were still grains of sand.
and she began to cry.
“and that’s it?” asked the coyote.
“that’s it,” said the rattlesnake.
“that’s the stupidest story i ever heard,” said the coyote.
“well, that’s just too darn bad,” said the rattlesnake. “if you don’t like it, i suggest you take a hike, because i got here first.”
the coyote took the rattlesnake at her word, and trotted off and howled at the moon.