I have liked this story for ages…
“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
I heard this with the punch as “What the fuck is water?”
I think DFW precedes the following quote with the story….
“It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head. It is about simple awareness — awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: ‘This is water, this is water.’ It is unimaginably hard to . . . stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out.”
David Foster Wallace