15 September, 2008

Will someone please explain this joke to me?

I found this on the freakonomics blog. I'm no economist, but I rarely have nay trouble understanding what they write about. This, though. What could it possibly be referencing?

"A middle-aged man realizes that he has been quite neglectful of his son, so he attempts to make it up to his son on his 25th birthday. He goes to his son and says “Son, I’m so sorry for ignoring you and being a poor father. I’d like to make it up to you. Name anything you want for your birthday and you shall receive it.” The son pauses for a moment, then replies “I’d like 10,000 green colored golf balls.” The father is puzzled, but says “You’ve got it.” So, the son gets 10,000 green colored golf balls.

Several years later, after hearing news that his son has brought him a grandson, the father, again overcome by guilt at ignoring his son, goes to him again and says “Son, I know I haven’t gotten better, but I’d still like to make it up to you. What would you like to celebrate this wonderful occasion?” The son again pauses for a moment, then replies “I’d like 10,000 green colored golf balls.” The father is even more puzzled, and asks “But why?” The son simply says “I’d like 10,000 green colored golf balls.” The father again obliges.

Many years later, the son is involved in a horrible car accident, and is too injured to recover. The father rushes to the hospital to see his dying son one last time. Kneeling next to him, the father says “Son, I’m so sorry that I was such a bad father. I’ve tried to patch things up, but never did enough. What is it, of all things, that you’d like?”

The son pauses for a moment, and replies “I’d like 10,000 green colored golf balls.” And dies."



Ashley said...

Neither I nor my husband with a bachelor's degree in Econ understood this.

When he read it, he simply said, "That's not funny."

PiFry said...

I have a degree in economics too, and I think the guy accidentally posted the joke before getting to the punchline (one or two others seem to have done so as well).

PiFry said...

I've been googling. One version of the joke ends like this:

"One day, his son got in a car accident and his father flew across America to come to his side. The son was in very bad shape. Despite all of their anger, the father said, "Why did you want all of those green golf balls all of these years?" The son looked into his eyes and said, "Well I..." And then he died"

Perhaps as payback for being a delinquent father?

Sorry to post twice, you're just the only other person on the internet besides me who cares (and that's saying something).

Anonymous said...

I was just googling to try and get this joke too. No dice.

david scherer said...

I have a degree in Econ as well and I totally did not get the joke, I am glad others did not as well.

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jldugger said...

Perhaps it's an allegory for money. Economics presumes to measure things in dollars a lot, even though money can't buy happiness or love. By substituting green golf balls for money, it highlights the absurdity.

Not very funny, I guess.

Anonymous said...

It's a joke on you, that's the whole point of it. The joke's supposed to get you all caught up in a story, trying to find out why he would want these green golf balls, and then not giving you a punchline for it. It's a prank.

jayme said...

there is no allegory. there is no deeper meaning, no moral, and no ending. it's just a story people tell, and the only intention of it is to frustrate the reader. there is no ending.
try googling 'why did he want all the green golfballs'.
it's just supposed to frustrate whoever you tell it to because you get them so invested in the story and there's no payoff.

muthaaafuckaah said...


australians are soo awesome, always giving you guys the answers you can't find for yourselfs

Anonymous said...


i meant to say yourselves.

i totally did not say yourselfs.
that is so effing rank.

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