Arnold Rothstein: There was a man once... I don't recall his name... frequented the billiard parlors downtown. He made a comfortable living wagering whether he could swallow certain objects, billiard balls being a specialty. He'd pick a ball, take it down his gullet to here, then regurgitate it back up. And one evening I decided to challenge this man to a wager... 10,000 in cash for him to do the trick with a billiard ball of my choosing. Now he knew I'd seen him do this a dozen times, so I can only surmise that he thought I was stupid. We laid down the cash and I handed him the cue ball. He swallowed it down. It lodged in his throat and he choked to death on the spot. What I knew and he didn't was that the cue ball was 1/16th of an inch larger than the other balls... just too large to swallow. Do you know what the moral of this tale is, Mr. Yale?
Frankie Yale: Don't eat a cue ball?
Do We Have This One?
Alice and Bob are having a conversation. Alice wants to make a point, but to tell Bob straightfowardly wouldn't have the impact she wants to make. So she decides to tell him a story. The story at first seems somewhat random and unrelated to the matter at hand. However, once the story is finished it becomes clear that there is a moral behind it . If Bob still seems confused about the story's relevance Alice may spell it out for him. Or she may just leave him guessing.
The most common term for these stories are parables, allegorical tales used to illustrate some message. The term often refers to religious parables meant to express spiritual concepts. Of course, it's not limited to that.
Old people are very prone to do this. They have a lot of stories to tell.
The musical version of this is Morality Ballad
. See also ...And That Little Girl Was Me
I will probably change the page quote given that I have seen this all over the place and there should be plenty to choose from. This one is just here to exemplify the trope for now.
- The Parables of Jesus are among the most well known examples. Jesus would often tell stories to convey his messages.
- Happens a lot in Boardwalk Empire. The page quote is one of many. Also, Margaret tells this to Lucy after she brags that all she has to do is spread her legs to keep Nucky interested:
Margaret: When I was a girl in Ireland, a raggedy man would come around every spring with a little Bantam rooster. He'd trained it to peck out "The Mountains of Mourne" on a toy piano hung off his chest.
Margaret: Well... the first year he came, we all of us, the girls in that place, we thought it magical. The second year, we laughed behind our hands at the odd man and his tatters, and the third year we didn't even go, because "The Mountains of Mourne" was all that little rooster could ever do.
Lucy: So what's the point?
- In The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne is trying to figure out The Joker's motivations. Alfred tells him this:
Alfred: A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.
Bruce: Then why steal them?
: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn
- In Training Day, Alonzo's friend Roger decides to tell rookie officer Jake a joke. He tells him about a snail that gets thrown off some guy's porch into the backyard and nearly dies. However, it recovers and after awhile it gains enough strength to crawl again. After about a year, the snail makes it way back on to the porch. The man comes out, looks at and says "What the ****'s your problem!?" Jake laughs until he sees Roger and Alonzo's serious expressions and realize that it isn't a joke at all. Roger tells him that when he figures the joke out, he'll figure the streets out.
- Also, there is a deleted scene where Alonzo tells Jake of one of his early work experiences involving a black man who was paid by another man named "Spooky" to beat up a doberman he was raising. Alonzo came across the man with his fellow officer, who was completely accepting of it and explained to Alonzo that Spooky was teaching the dog to hate black people.
Alonzo: I'm saying that to say this. Soon as you think you've seen everything out on these streets, these streets will teach you something twisted.
- Jolee Bindo is prone to this in the Knights of the Old Republic game.
- A favorite tool of Sophia's in The Golden Girls. Sometimes suvberted when her story ends up having absolutely no connection to the matter at hand.