American Pilot in France

Mar 17, 2001

RAY: This week's Puzzler might actually be a true story. It takes place during World War II. It turns out that a young American fighter pilot had his plane shot up pretty badly, but he managed to parachute out and land in northwest France outside a little village. He was discovered by the townspeople, understandably shaken up but otherwise unharmed.

The townspeople realized that somehow they had to get the aviator back to his unit in England so he could continue to fly his missions to help liberate France from the grasp of the Nazis. To this end, they figured they'd disguise him and give him some phony ID and the like. They removed all of his clothing and discarded it, including his shoes and his socks. They destroyed his dog tags. They dressed him up in typical French garb.

His last night in France, the pilot and his French friends stop at an inn to enjoy a little repast and some cognac. While he's there, a group of German soldiers comes in. One of the soldiers scans the room. He's out of earshot of any one of these people sitting at this little table. He points to this person and says, "That's the American."

How did he know?


RAY: What the German soldier observed is that members of the resistance and their would-be escapee dining, repast. And while Americans traditionally cut their meat with the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right when they go to eat that same cut meat or whatever, they transfer the fork to the right hand, and the Europeans, who can't wait to shovel it in, don't waste a second and will eat with the left hand. So, when he saw this person swap --

TOM: Who looked and smelled like an authentic Frenchman.

RAY: -- swap the fork to his right hand, it was the kiss of death. So, who's our winner?

TOM: The winner is Stephen Green from Iowa City, Iowa.

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