A New Age Riddle: I Cannot Operate…This Boy is my Son…

A riddle I heard a long while back popped up in my Facebook feed yesterday…

A father and his son are in a car crash. The father dies, but the son is taken to the emergency room. At the OR, the surgeon looks at the patient and says: “I cannot operate on him. He’s my son.”

The Facebooker, who shall remain nameless, said:

“The part of the riddle that blew my mind was how I could have possibly gotten it wrong.”

When I was a kid…there really was only one “logical” answer to the question – the surgeon was a woman and indeed, surgeon could not operate on her son.  But it was a good riddle…because at the time, surgeons were predominantly men, and the fact that it was the boy’s mother would not have immediately occurred to anyone.

People went to lengths to try to explain, stuck on the surgeon being a man…

Maybe the boy’s mother had cheated or remarried…

Maybe he’d been adopted…

Sex change?

These days, I’d hope that a lot more people would figure out that the surgeon could be a woman.  One of the Facebookers suggested that her young son figured it out right away.  My kids did too.

But there is another logical possibility that wouldn’t have been “acceptable” when I first heard the joke – as I pointed out in the feed – it is possible that the boy had two dads.

I’m happy to say that a few people on Facebook apologized, embarrassed that my answer hadn’t occurred to them.

Minds are changing…maybe we’ll get there yet.  All it takes is the occasional small reminder to get people thinking.

Image (edited) courtesy freedigitalphotos.net and David Castillo Dominici

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