image credit: tolbert

i used to know a very old man
who had the key to open a very old lock
but one day he could remember nothing more
than where he had misplaced his bolted door

so it did no good to have a key
’cause the lock was on the door, you see

i once knew a very old man
who happened to knock on a very old door
but no one answered the very old door
’cause nobody lived in the house anymore

so the old man happened to know an old man
who had a key to a very old door
he sought out the man who had a key
but he said he had tossed it into the sea

days and nights passed as they so often do
and a third old man visited the two
he asked them why the door was sealed
when there was nothing of value inside to steal

so the men collectively scratched their heads
and agreed with flushed faces that turned quite red
they determined that together they could slip inside
if they found a loose window and together they pried

it took three old men tumbling onto their heads
to startle an old woman who slept on her bed
the old woman had lived there all of her life
where she had been a loving mother as well as a wife

she demanded an answer from the embarrassed old men
and laughed when she heard about the places they’d been
and while she graciously offered biscuits and tea
she picked up the phone to inquire of the three

of course they had no lock, they had no key
they had just tumbled in pretty as you please
so the men in white coats were gentle and kind
the nicest young men you could ever find

and as the bus drove away the men frantically waved
embarrassed at how they had so rudely behaved
tumbling through a window because they had no key
busting in on an old woman who was gracious to the three

it all ended well, no one was harmed
luckily the old woman was not sufficiently armed
and the bus ride back home was pleasant and short
and the farm was not funny, according to the report

~the end~

moral(s) of the story:
(pick one or more or come to your own conclusion)

even when outnumbered an old woman will laugh at old men.

if you have a key don’t toss it out, you may need it sometime.

be watchful if you wait at a bus stop.

watch yourself if you see three old men collectively scratch anything!

even with additional help and the best intentions, a project can be misguided and even disastrous.

© 2012, tolbert. All rights reserved.

tolbert (24 Posts)

Born in Virginia and raised in North Carolina, I have Southern roots that were extracted when I lived close enough to Berkeley in the late sixties and early seventies to taste the influences of the pursuit of freedom. As a student at San Jose State University I watched William Kuntsler expound on the values of free speech and he offered more education in an hour, on the lawn by the baseball diamond than most professors gave in a full semester. Married for thirty years, I have two grown daughters and three grandkids,..and two Boston Terriers.


  1. Well, I choose what’s behind door number…what was it again? Oh yes, this one:
    “watch yourself if you see three old men collectively scratch anything!”

    Loved this, Wayne and it gave me a huge smile this cold April afternoon. ;)

  2. tolbert (Author)

    Thank you Cher…It turns out you picked the correct door! You are quite amazing you know. :-) I have to ask though…since you picked the correct door, what was the ‘key’ motivator in your selection?

  3. I loved it too! Love the story like tone. Funny …I have a hand full of keys of which I don’t know which doors they will open. I’ve kept them for years and I’m pretty sure that when I DO throw them away, it will be then when I realize I needed them to open a particular door!

  4. tolbert

    You are so right Maria…just when you toss a key you will realize it was the one you needed…so what do you do? Just stick ‘em in a drawer and that way you will never need a key again…

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