Two thirtyish men are sitting side by side on the northbound Ravenswood el.

“I’m ready to put money on this,” one says. “I’ll buy you a plane ticket to Switzerland if you paint a painting of a bear and a carrot.”

“A bear and a carrot, huh. I could do that.”

“It’s no risk to you–just give me the painting, and I’ll buy you the ticket. I know I can sell a picture of a bear and a carrot. I bet I’ll even make a profit.”

“Just so I know what you think my work’s worth, how much is a ticket to Switzerland?”

“In the off-season, around $600.”

“How big a painting?”

“About that big.” He points to a poster.

“That’s about 20-by-20. But it will be really detailed, OK?”

“Yes, detailed is good. Maybe more than one carrot.”

“I don’t really know bears. I’ll have to get an encyclopedia with a picture. What color should the bear be? Like coffee or maple syrup?”

“Oh, maple syrup, definitely.”

“Hey, how about a painting of a whole bunch of bears, and a huge pile of carrots? I mean lots of ’em!”

“Oh, man, that’d be great!”

–Ann Wiens

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