THE POWER OF “THE MAN WITH AN ORANGE FOR A HEAD” (COMMENT). I posted here about the story of ‘The Man with an Orange for a Head”. Briefly, a genie gives a man three wishes. He chooses money and lots of girls with his first two wishes. Then, he says to the bartender (of course, there’s a bartender): “I think this may have been where I made my mistake.” “What did you do?” says the bartender. “I wished to have an orange for a head.”

I had expressed puzzlement here that almost nobody laughs at this joke. Paul has just commented on that post that:

“It’s more than that. I think it’s a joke about the frailty of the human mind, but more specifically about addicts. Life can be sailing along smoothly and then you destroy it -and you make that choice yourself. Could be anything: cigarettes, booze, drugs, cheating on your wife, gambling. You know it’s going to screw up your life, but you do it anyway. You have three wishes – you have everything – and you wish for an orange for a head.
Now, you can say it with grandiosity: ‘no narrative structure is big enough to contain the infinite perversity of the human heart.’ But, basically, you can say it this way: We’re all complete idiots, screw up our own lives, and make cages of our own creation.”

I realize that Paul is right and that I had not seen what gives the story its power. A story teller can conceive of the story as a clever plot twist, but the story is about the terrible choices we all can and do make even when confronted with wonderful opportunities.

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