14th-Century David Sedaris Jokes

I absolutely adore David Sedaris.  I adore him so much that I’ll even use the word “adore” in a sentence with him as its object, even though I generally think of “adore” as the kind of word you may only use in earnest if you’re a precocious red-headed young girl in a Victorian children’s book.* So imagine my delight** when I came across the following pair of images in the lower margin of a page from the always-entertaining MS Bodl. 264:

The official catalog description labels the scene simply as “The blind mislead”, but just where is this little helpful fella misleading them to?  Straight into Sedaris’s “Six to Eight Black Men,”*** as it turns out, specifically into the frame anecdote:

What really interests me [when I travel] are the local gun laws. Can I carry a concealed weapon, and if so, under what circumstances? What’s the waiting period for a tommy gun? Could I buy a Glock 17 if I were recently divorced or fired from my job? I’ve learned from experience that it’s best to lead into this subject as delicately as possible, especially if you and the local citizen are alone and enclosed in a relatively small space. Bide your time, though, and you can walk away with some excellent stories. I’ve heard, for example, that the blind can legally hunt in both Texas and Michigan. They must be accompanied by a sighted companion, but still, it seems a bit risky. You wouldn’t want a blind person driving a car or piloting a plane, so why hand him a rifle? What sense does that make? I ask about guns not because I want one of my own but because the answers vary so widely from state to state. In a country that’s become so homogenous, I’m reassured by these last touches of regionalism.

Turns out, the blind could hunt in 14th-Century Tournai, too.

Though maybe they shouldn’t have. But take an even closer look at the pig’s feet:

The poor beclubbed blind man has gotten tangled in the snare used to hold the she-boar long enough for the blind men to get close. And the little scamp who led them there is nowhere to be found. Let that be a lesson to all of you. If you and three of your best hunting buddies are struck blind, it’s probably best to cancel your carefully staged big game hunt getaway vacation. Let your deposit go; it’s not worth it.


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  1. * And even then only if you have sufficient levels of gumption. []
  2. ** Another suspect word, but we shall press on. []
  3. *** You can find the entire story here, and you probably should go read it immediately if you haven’t. []

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  • http://yakimagulagliterarygazett.blogspot.com/ Katjuša Roquette

    I adore rjeđe illustrations, especially the sow. She is perfect!

  • Angus

    What a coincidence: just two days ago I read “Six to Eight Black Men” out loud to my wife, and today I happen across this page. I’m digging these medieval manuscript gags…they’re good stuff!

  • BeeGee

    Blind men hunting boar seems to me to be the medieval equivalent of blindfolding kids, and giving them a stick to hit a pinata. According to AFV home videos, usually the father/grandfather/uncle/other unfortunate male bystander gets hit in the privates. I don’t blame the “scamp” for scampering, he wants to keep his brain inside his skull. Hopefully he accepted his retainer for leading this expedition in advance.

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