I read a short story in eighth grade that I never forgot, and if you read it, too, you'll know what I'm talking about: The Lady, or the Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton.
Here's the premise. In a kingdom in the days of way-back, the princess was schlepping some peasant. Well, the King (her father) found out about this, and he went into a rage.
The King had an interesting punishment: The condemned were put in an arena and forced to choose between two doors. From one, a tiger would emerge and eat 'em up. From the other, a beautiful maiden would emerge, and he would have to marry her on the spot. (The King must have been ahead of his time, because this punishment sounds a lot like a FOX reality show. But I digress.)
Anyway, long story short, the princess discovered which door had the tiger, and which door had the lady, and got a signal to her sweetie that she would help him out.
At the arena, honey-bunny looks at the Princess sitting in the audience, and she makes a little gesture with her right hand. (Which, of course, can get kind of confusing, ie "Wait, your right, or my right?!")
The story ends with Dude putting his hand on the door and opening it; the author asks you, the reader, "What do you think? Lady, or the tiger?"
First of all, I always thought this story was lame. Come on, Mr Writer Man, get off the fence and tell us what you think. It's anti-climatic, if nothing else.
Secondly, my 12-year-old mind had it all figured out (since I was convinced I knew the female heart). The tiger, of course. No woman in the world--certainly not a princess--could stand to see her one-and-only married off on the spot to some ho'.
So here's my story:
You've got to understand, first of all, that college football is dead-serious in Alabama. You're either for the Alabama Crimson Tide or you're for the Auburn Tigers. Most cars carry Alabama or Auburn bumper stickers, license plates or little flags. (Here's some Alabama brilliance for you: They're called the Auburn Tigers, but the mascot is an eagle. Figure that one out.)
Along with Alabama and Auburn fans, Alabama also has a lot of old people.
I snuck out of work early yesterday to make a deposit at my bank. I forgot that after 4 p.m., only the drive-thru teller windows are open. Now, I hate the drive-thru teller windows, but that's another story.
Two lanes in front of me, and I'm in a hurry, so I study both lanes. There's only one car ahead of me in each lane, and they're both in the middle of their transactions.
On the one hand, there's the SUV with an "Auburn Tigers" license plate.
On the other, I can see a small gray head of hair in the driver's seat in a big-ass Buick.
"My god," I thought, "The Auburn Tiger or the Old Lady. In the first time in all of history, junior high English class is actually going to help me in real life."
The Punchline: I settled, once and for all, the "Lady, or the Tiger?" question. I chose the Old Lady, and the Auburn Tiger pulled away first.
Kind of says it all.
(*Under no illusion that if his girlfriend had the power to choose the lady or the tiger for him, I might as well start pouring barbecue sauce over my head...and not because she couldn't stand to lose me, mind you.)