My father was a veteran TV writer who passed away six years ago at the tender age of 92. One month before he left us for the Big Deli in the Sky, in hopes of finding a bottomless bowl of matzoh ball soup and corned beef to die for, he finally figured out how life began. Although he had no plans to go anywhere for at least 20 years, he couldn't wait to share his theory with those of us gathered around his bed:
"So, how did we get here? Who decided, okay, I'll make a place and we'll call it Earth? Maybe he was the producer, the money guy. And then someone else in the room, one of the writers, said, 'Earth? Why are we calling it that?' And the producer said, 'Why not?' No one had a good comeback, so the producer kept going. 'We need some people on Earth. How are we going to get people? Hang on, I know. We'll start with a fish.' And then the same writer who thought Earth was a dumb name said, 'A fish? Why a fish?' 'Why not?' the producer said. 'So then this fish was swimming around in the sea and said, 'I'm tired of being a fish,' and walked out of the water and became a man. Wow.
"Then one day the former fish got lonely. So the producer said, 'Listen, give me a rib and I'll make a woman for you.' And the former fish said, 'Why do I have to give you a rib?' 'Because I said so,' the producer said. 'You can give me a rib or I'll rip it out. Your choice.' So the ex-fish said, 'Fine, I'll give you a rib, just make sure the woman is pretty. I'm not giving up a rib for a dog.' And the producer said, 'I'll see what I can do. But I'm not making any promises.' "
-- the late great Ben Starr
Carol Starr Schneider is a writer living in California.