A regular at the Little Café Near Home told me this joke last night. I offer it to you as a lesson about the culture I am now surrounded by. (This is not a verbatim rendition, my rambling instincts are evident in the retelling.)
An American, a German, and a Czech were exploring the deepest jungles of the Amazon when they were captured by a tribe of cannibals. They were trussed up and brought before the chief. With three large pots heating over roaring fires behind him, the chief addressed the captives. “You will each be given two glass spheres,” he said, “and placed in separate huts. I will visit each of you in turn. If you can show me something with the spheres that I have never seen before, I will set you free. Otherwise, you’re on the menu tonight.”
The three captives were each given a pair of glass balls and taken to their huts.
First, the chief visited the American. When he entered, the American was sitting cross-legged on the dirt floor, with his hands in front of him. Over each hand a glass ball was hovering, in complete defiance of gravity.
“Seen it before,” said the chief.
Next he visited the German. Like the American he sat in deep concentration. He was moving his hands fluidly, and the spheres were flying about the room in a graceful dance.
“Seen it,” said the chief.
Finally, the chief visited the Czech. He entered the hut and returned almost immediately. The tribe waited for the verdict. The chief shook his head. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “It’s been five minutes and the guy broke one of the balls and lost the other.”