A man is driving down the road and breaks down near a 
Buddhist monastery. He goes to the monastery, knocks on 
the door, and says, "My car broke down.  Do you think I 
could stay the night?"

 The monks graciously accept him, feed him dinner, even 
fix his car. As the man tries to fall asleep, he hears a 
strange sound.  The next morning, he asks the monks what 
the sound was, but they say, "We can't tell you. You're not
 a monk."

 The man is disappointed but thanks them anyway and goes 
home.               

 Some years later, the same man breaks down in front of the 
same monastery.  The monks again accept him, feed him, even 
fix his car. That night, he hears the same strange noise 
that he had heard years earlier.

 The next morning, he asks what it is, but the monks 
reply, "We can't tell you. You're not a monk."

 The man says, "All right, all right.  I'm dying to know. 
 If the only way I can find out what that sound was is to 
become a monk, how do I become a monk?"

 The monks reply, "You must travel the earth and tell us 
how many blades of grass there are and the exact number 
of sand pebbles.  When you find these numbers, 
grasshopper, you will become a true monk."                           

 The man sets about his task.  Some forty-five years later, 
he returns and knocks on the door of the monastery.  He 
says, "I have traveled the earth and have found what you 
have asked for.  There are 145,236,284,232 blades of grass 
and 231,281,219,999,129,382 sand pebbles on the earth."

 The monks reply, "Welcome. You are now a monk.  We shall 
now show you the way to the sound."

 The monks lead the man to a wooden door, where the head 
monk says, "The sound is right behind that door."

 The man reaches for the knob, but the door is locked.
 He says, "Master, give me the key."

 The monks give him the key, and he opens the door.  Behind 
the wooden door is another door made of stone.  The man
 demands the key to the stone door.  The monks give him the 
key, and he opens it, only to find a door made of ruby. 
 He demands another key from the monks, who provide it.  
Behind that door is another door, this one made of 
sapphire.  So it went until the man had gone through 
doors of emerald, silver, topaz, amethyst, and 
gold.

 Finally, the monks say, "This is the last key to the last 
door." The man is ready.  He unlocks the jade door, turns 
the knob, and behind that door he is amazed to find the 
source of that strange sound.

 But I can't tell you what it is, because you're not a 
monk.

This is a true shaggy dog story if ever I have heard one. However, the version I know is a little different to Wintersweet's. When told properly, this version should take a good 25 minutes to tell, after which, everyone will want to hurt you.

To get the full effect of this story, it should really be memorised and told out loud. Remember to use the exactly the same sounds for some words so it becomes extremely repetitive. This should highten the audience's expectation that you are building up to something enormous.


There was a little boy who lives at the bottom of a mountain, on top of which is a monastery. Every day, the little boy liked to cycle up and down the dirt track outside his house (That's the one at the bottom of the mountain with the monastery on top). One day, he was cycling up and down the track outside his house on his tricycle when he heard a strange noise. The strange noise was coming from the monastery on top of the mountain (That's the one above his house with the dirt track he was cycling on).

Anyway, the little boy decided he wants to find out what the noise coming from the monastery is. So, he got his tricycle and cycled his way up the dirt track to the monastery on top of the mountain.

It took him hours, but he finally made it to the top. Once in the monastery, the little boy got hold of the head monk.

"Hullo, Mr Monk. I was cycling up and down the dirt track outside my house at the bottom of this mountain, when I heard a strange noise coming from your monastery. Could you tell me what it is?"

"I am sorry" the head monk replied, "but I can't tell you. You are not a monk."

"Goddammit!" said the little boy, for he was a foul mouthed child. So, he cycled slowly back down the mountain and forgot about the noise.

Over the years, the little boy grew a little taller and a little older. Soon he was old enough for his first proper bicycle. The little boy (who still lived in the house with the dirt track at the bottom of a mountain with the monastery on top), was ever so excited and immediately went outside to test his new bicycle. He cycled up and down, up and down the dirt track outside his house for hours and hours. Suddenly, from the monastery on top of the mountain, he heard a strange noise. As the little boy was now 10, he had completely forgotten about his previous excursion to the monastery on top of the mountain (that's the one above his house with the dirt track).

So, up the mountain the little boy went. He was a little faster this time, his bike had gears and everything. It was also bright red and everybody knows that's the fastest colour. Eventually, the little boy got to the top of the mountain and went into the monastery. He managed to track down the head monk and went to ask him the question that was burning in his head.

"Hullo, Mr Monk. I was cycling up and down the dirt track outside my house at the bottom of this mountain, when I heard a strange noise coming from your monastery. Could you tell me what it is?"

"I am sorry" the head monk replied, "but I can't tell you. You are not a monk."

"Damn you!" said the little boy, for he was still a foul mouthed child. So, he cycled slowly back down the mountain again and forgot about the noise.

7 long years passed and the boy grew a little taller again. Now, he was no longer a little boy, but a strapping youth. The strapping youth was still living at home, abeit only just. Before he left to make his way into the wide world, his parents gave him a motorcycle. The strapping youth was ever so excited by this motorcycle and spent the day riding up and down, up and down the dirt track outside his house (that's the one at the bottom of the mountain with the monastery on top). As he finished his biking session, he turned off the engine, only to be surprised by a strange noise coming out of the monastery on top of the mountain (the one next to his house). Now, the strapping youth was determined to know what this sound could be, so he kicked his motorbike into life and sped off up the mountain to the monastery on top.

When the strapping youth arrived at the monastery, he went to see the head monk.

"Hullo, Mr Monk. I was biking up and down the dirt track outside my house at the bottom of this mountain, when I heard a strange noise coming from your monastery. Could you tell me what it is?"

"I am sorry" the head monk replied, "but I can't tell you. You are not a monk."

"Fadge wozzer!" said the little boy, for he was a foul mouthed child strapping youth. So, he biked slowly back down the mountain again and forgot about the noise.

The boy left home soon afterwards, he occasionally visited his parents, but did not hear the noise again for a long time. One weekend, when the boy had come back to the house of his childhood (you know, the one with the dirt track at the bottom of a mountain with a monastery on top), he was sat in his car when he heard a strange noise coming from the monastery on top of the mountain. This time, the man was determined. He decided that he would find out what was making the noise, no matter what it took.

The car spluttered into action as the man turned the key in the ignition. Setting off up the hill, he had a feeling of excitement and elation. Finally, the man was going to find out what was making the noise. When the man parked up outside the monastery (on top of the mountain next to the house with the dirt track), he found the head monk waiting for him.

"Hullo, Mr Monk. I have been trying to find out what the noise from your monastery is for the past 18 years and it's driving me crazy! Could you tell finally me what it is?"

"I am sorry" the head monk replied, "but I can't tell you. You are not a monk."

"Well, can I become a monk then?"

The head monk thought for a moment before replying, "You must travel the earth and count the number of blades of grass in every field and the number of grains of sand on every beach. When you truly know the answer to this problem, then you shall be a monk."

So the man left the monastery and travelled the earth. For years and years he counted the blades of grass and grains of sand, until one day the answer hit him like a brick in the face. He made his way slowly back to the monastery and found the head monk.

"Oh, venerable Mr Monk, I have travelled the earth these past years, counting the blades of grass and grains of sand. I finally have the answer and I would like to become a monk."

So the man became a monk.

At last, he would be able to achieve what was now a lifelong ambition of finding out what the noise inside the monastery was! "Mr Monk, what is the noise coming from the monastery?" "I cannot tell you as it cannot be translated into words, young grasshopper. However, I can show you. Take this key and go to the deepest darkest corner of the monastery. There you will find a long corridor. At the end of the corridor is a door and through the door is the thing that makes the noise."

The man went immediately to the deepest darkest part of the monastery and found the long corridor. He walked down the corridor until he could see the door at the end. Unfortunately, there were three fires blocking the man from the door. He decided to jump the fires as they were magical and would never go out. The man took a good run up, made sure the key was securely in his hand and charged at the first fire.

LEAP!

Over the first fire he went, but he had dropped the key. "Oh, Jabberwocky!" The man leapt back over the fire, walked all the way back down the long corridor, out of the deepest, darkest part of the monastery and back to the head monk.

"Oh Mr Monk! I am so sorry! I went to the deepest, darkest part of the monastery, down the long corridor to the door, but there were magical fires and I dropped the key in the first one as I leapt over it."

"Do not worry young grasshopper, for there is another key and you must overcome tests on your way to enlightenment. The second key, however is on the other side of the world, in America."

The man left the monastery (the one on top of the mountain above his old house with the dirt track) and travelled to America. It took years and years because he had no money to pay for his journey (being a monk). Eventually he arrived in America and managed to track down the key to the door. The man then had to make the return journey equally as painstakingly, but finally he arrived back at the monastery (on top of the mountain, next to his old house with the dirt track where he used to cycle). Down into the deepest, darkest part of the monastery he went, until he found the long corridor. The three magical fires were in front of him as he took a long run up.

LEAP!

Over the first fire went the man, key still in hand!

LEAP!!

Over the second fire went the man, key still- damn! He had dropped the key in the second fire. The man leapt back over the second fire, back over the third fire. Back down the long corridor he walked and out of the deepest, darkest part of the monastery (the one on top of the mountain next to his old house with the dirt track). The man went back to the head monk.

"Oh Mr Monk! I am so sorry! I went to the deepest, darkest part of the monastery, down the long corridor to the door, but there were magical fires and I dropped the key in the second one as I leapt over it."

"Do not worry young grasshopper, for there is one more key and we must all overcome tests on our way to enlightenment. The third key, however is on the other side of the world, Australia."

The man left the monastery (the one on top of the mountain above his old house with the dirt track) and travelled to Australia. It took years and years because he had no money to pay for his journey (being a monk). Eventually he arrived in Australia and managed to track down the key to the door. The man then had to make the return journey equally as painstakingly, but finally he arrived back at the monastery (on top of the mountain, next to his old house with the dirt track where he used to cycle). Down into the deepest, darkest part of the monastery he went, until he found the long corridor. The three magical fires were in front of him as he took a long run up.

LEAP!

Over the first fire went the man, key still in hand!

LEAP!!

Over the second fire went the man, key still in hand!!

LEAP!!!

Over the THIRD fire went the man, key still in hand!!!

He had made it. He'd made the jumps and here he was standing outside the door with the answer to his question. Finally, finally, after nearly 85 years of wanting to know what was making the strange noise, he would know. The answer lay through the door in front of him and he could at last be at peace with himself.

Slowly the man slid the key into the lock. Turning the key a slight 'click' was to be heard as the lock moved back allowing the man to open the door. He pushed to door open and stepped inside. Shock and amazement came over him as he finally realised the answer to his question!

"What is making the strange noise coming out of the monastery?"


Sorry mate, can't tell you. You're not a monk.

Please don't hurt me.

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