In May of 1936, a couple was having a picnic by the lake in Central Park. They ate sandwiches while chatting and pampering. Everything was fine until only one sandwich remained. The two rushed over it, but their heads clashed. Then a tense discussion ensued about who had the right to eat that last sandwich. The woman, who was a lawyer for Baumann & Persky, brought up a paragraph of the Constitution that, according to a lax interpretation, empowered her to eat that last morsel. On the other hand, the man, who was a devout Jew, alleged a dark chapter of the Mishnah concerning the right of primogeniture. But their arguments do not matter to us. The relevant thing is what happened with the sandwich while both were discussing. According to the testimony that the couple later gave to the police, a sea monster emerged from the lake and, stretching its long neck, snatched and ate the sandwich, then it submerged again underwater.

It was not the first case of these characteristics that reached the ears of the authorities. In fact, the rumor had spread that there was a monster in the lake that ate all the sandwiches that it caught. However, the authorities did not pay much attention to this kind of cases that they considered “junk cases” and that used to be entrusted to the agency ENIGMA CONSULTANTS S.L. The sad truth is that, for the municipal authorities of New York, Michael Schlimazl and Jacob Schlemihl were something like a landfill for “junk cases”. What a difference with what happens today, when not only the authorities have departments specialized in this kind of strange events but, according to some conspiracy theorists, they themselves are secretly allied with an extraterrestrial race! But let’s get to the point. To elucidate what was true in the statements of the Jewish couple about a sea monster that had snatched the last sandwich from their picnic basket, Michael and Jacob decided to reproduce the conditions in the midst of which the event took place. At about the same time and at the same point on the shore of the lake, they spread out a tablecloth and sat on the grass for a picnic. They started eating and, when only one sandwich was left, they pretended to argue about who would eat it. Unfortunately, what started as a feigned argument ended up becoming a real hand-to-hand fight in which both were fighting over that last sandwich.

“How is it possible? (maybe you wonder) How can one be so stupid?” Remember that Michael and Jacob had met in a state town-fools contest. The fact is that, when the fight between them ceased, they realized that the sandwich had disappeared. The culprit, had been the supposed monster? A tribe of ants? Someone hungry? They considered all possibilities, including the possibility that the sandwich had suddenly vanished by itself. But as no explanation was conclusive, they were forced to repeat the operation the next day. Unfortunately, everything happened like the day before, including the imperceptible transition from a feigned discussion to a full-fledged fight. For a week and a half, every day they tried to follow the designed plan to deceive the monster and catch it red-handed (they each had a weapon that fired paralyzing darts). But in the end, they had to accept the sad reality that they were incapable of not fighting for the last sandwich in the basket. So they were forced to resort to another tactic to catch the monster, if it actually existed and it was not a typical manifestation of Jewish humor.

They hired a boat and, thanks to a special permit from the authorities, went out one night to row through the calm waters of the lake. They deduced that the night would be a propitious moment for the damned monster to be seen. Each of them held a fishing rod from which a sandwich hung as a bait. In those years, Central Park was a very dark place at night. And they had chosen precisely a night of new moon for their adventure. (They had no idea about the phases of the moon: they thought that it appeared in one way or another on a whim.) 

When they were right in the middle of the lake, the following surreal conversation took place:

“Hey, man, I’m tired of tuna. Would it be too much to ask for a little variation for sandwich filling? Have you heard about peanut butter? “

“What have you said?”

“Who? Me? You are the one who have talked about peanut butter.”

“Don’t say foolishness. I don’t even like peanut butter “

“So, why do you ask for peanut butter?”

“Oh! Look! Taking advantage of darkness, someone has eaten the sandwich!”

“Michael, surely you don’t think that I…”

“Is there someone else here besides you and me?”

“Michael, come on, I would never lie to you about such a thing …”

“Oh, then you lie to me about other things!”

“Weeeell, yes. But they are unimportant things.”

“For example?”

“The year of your birth”

“Do you imply that you know better than me in what year I was born?”

“Yes, because… Michael…the time has come for you to know”

“To know what?”

“I am your father”

“Are you drunk? Throw me your breath. Puagh! You smell of brandy! How are we going to capture the monster if you are drunk?”

“Who are you calling ‘monster’, asshole?”

“How dare you call me asshole?!”

“It was not me, Michael … Look! (he points to an indeterminate shape before them). It seems to me that we are not alone.”

Michael strives to see in the dark:

“I see nothing”

“It looks like Mr. Miller”

“The tailor of Flatbush Avenue? Are you crazy? What the hell could Mr. Miller be doing at night in the middle of Central Park Lake? Why don’t you use your head for something more than to wear that ridiculous hood?”

“You are envious because you would have liked to get one like this. But you finished fourth and therefore without right to hood”

“Can you stop arguing and put another sandwich on the hook?”

Michael flip around recklessly: 

“Who said that?”

“Do you see how there is someone else?”

“I see nothing! That’s the problem”

“Do you want my flashlight?”

“Did you have a flashlight and you didn’t say anything?”

He snatches the flashlight, lights it and focuses it forward of them. A bulge with two bright eyes protrudes from the calm waters. Michael screams and falls back losing the lantern in the lake.

“See why I didn’t want to tell you about the flashlight?”

“Have you seen that?”

“I’ve seen you throw it overboard. Deliberately.”

“I’m not talking about the lantern, imbecile, but about the head that protrudes from the lake!”

“You mean Mr. Miller?”

“I mean the monster!”

“Who has called me ‘monster’ again?”

“You see? It was not me! It was Mr. Miller who called you an asshole!”

“Shut up. Don’t you see it’s the monster that’s out there?”

Then he looks at the bulge in the lake and rectifies at loud voice:

“I withdraw the word ‘monster’! I meant … Mr. Miller”

“Oh, you finally admit that it’s Mr. Miller…”

“Yes, it’s me, guys. You’ve discovered my secret”

“Are you really Mr. Miller? The tailor of Flatbush Avenue?”

“You see, guys, the business isn’t going well lately. So I’ve been forced to steal sandwiches. I made this waterproof costume myself. It’s supposed to be a sea serpent. Do you have some other sandwich?”

Michael and Jacob promised Mr. Miller to keep his secret, as well as provide sandwiches for him. And when the authorities asked them what was the conclusion they had reached after their investigation, they mentioned the common Jewish origin of the testimonies and gave several examples of Jewish humor, which ended up convincing the authorities that “the monster of Central Park Lake” was just a ‘vits’ (a Jewish joke), and they shelved the case.

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to raise funds for children in need. So if you want to make a donation in exchange for this story, click on this link to UNICEF. I really appreciate it!

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