Other Stories

Sir Lancelot and The Essential Question

Part I:
Many years ago, in England, there was a castle-town called Camelot. One day Sir Lancelot went out riding on his horse from Camelot. Sir Lancelot was not very smart and so he forgot to take his sword. Suddenly on a narrow path, the Black Knight appeared. The Black Knight was Sir Lancelot’s enemy.
He said, “You have no sword. I could kill you easily now. But I am a playful fellow. So I will give you a question. If you can answer this question, I will not kill you. But you must promise to return here soon.” Sir Lancelot agreed. The Black Knight then said, “The question is, ‘What do women want most?’”
Sir Lancelot didn’t know the answer. But he had lots of friends back at Camelot and they were always talking about women. So he thought surely they would know. So he turned and started riding back to the castle.
Suddenly on the path an ugly old woman jumped out and stopped him. She said “I heard your conversation with the Black Knight and know the answer to the question. Find me a husband and I will tell you the answer.” Sir Lancelot felt she was right but said, “Excuse me” and he rode around her and went on to the castle.
At the castle he asked all the fellow knights “What do women want most?” They all had different answers, some said chocolate, some said money, some said diamonds, some said “me”. Sir Lancelot was not very smart, but he did have good intuition and his intuition told him these answers were not right. His intuition also told him that the old woman he met on the path really did have the right answer.
Lancelot said to the knights, “The person who I think really knows the answer is an ugly old woman. But she won’t tell me the answer unless I find her a husband. Would any of you marry her?” Immediately all of their heads dropped as if a teacher had asked a difficult question in a classroom. EXCEPT one. Sir Gawain was a very nice fellow and he stood up and said, “If it will save your life, I will marry any woman.” So the two of them rode out to the forest. They found the old woman and quickly told her that Sir Gawain would marry her. Then Sir Lancelot said quickly, “Please tell me, What do women want most?”
The ugly old woman said, “Women want _______.”
[STOP HERE. Ask as many people as possible the question “What do women want most?” ]
Part II:
So there was Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain in front of the old woman waiting for an answer to the question, “What do women want most?” The old woman said, “Women want . . . [pause] . . . choice.” Both Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain were confused by this answer but they accepted it. The old lady and Sir Gawain then went back to Camelot to get married. Sir Lancelot went to meet the Black Knight. “What is the answer?” said the Black Knight. “Ch Ch ch ch choice?” said Sir Lancelot stuttering in fear. “Damn! You got it right. How did you know?” “Oh, I’m just smart” replied Lancelot.
Then Sir Lancelot rode back to Camelot. The old lady and Sir Gawain had just gotten married and they went up to the wedding room at the top of the castle. The old lady jumped on the bed, and Sir Gawain went to the window to get some fresh air. Suddenly, there was a very sweet breeze that came through the room and he turned and he saw that the old lady had turned into a young beautiful woman. “What happened?” he wondered.
The young lady explained that a wicked witch had put a spell on her and that the only way to break the spell was to marry a knight. Gawain was very excited and started toward the bed, but the young lady said, “Wait, it is not completely over. I can be beautiful like this only half of every day. Do you want me to be beautiful in the day or in the night? The rest of the time I will be that old lady.”
Sir Gawain thought long and hard. And finally he said, ”___________________”.
[STOP here and ask the people you tell the story to what they think he said. What would they choose? And what would you choose?]
Part III:
Sir Gawain didn’t know what to say for the longest time. It was hard to choose between night or day. Finally, he said, “I don’t know, you decide!” And suddenly ZZZAGABOOM! Lightening struck the castle and . . . the young lady said to Sir Gawain, “You did it! You gave to a woman what she wants most: CHOICE. Now the whole curse is off of me and I can be beautiful both night and day as long as I live and for as old as I become!”
[Part IV: Optional]
Now some people say that’s the end of the story and the beautiful woman and Sir Gawain lived happily ever after. But others say that Sir Gawain thought things over and he realized that the woman had had no CHOICE when she married him. And he too came to think that CHOICE was important, for women and men. So he decided to get a divorce and give her the choice of meeting him if she wanted to.
Some people wisely end the story here, leaving listeners the choice to imagine their own ending. Some unwisely continue and say these two dated, got married, and had a son that they, strangely enough, named “Knight.” When he grew up, he became a knight, of course. So they called him Knight Knight. And the other Knights were always teasing him in the evening by saying “night-night Knight Knight.”
(At this point the story-teller begins dodging rotten eggs and tomatoes thrown by the audience! )

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