Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Truth and Consequences

As I grew up, always an annoying little question-asking gunner, I realized that my dad often made up answers out of convenience.

10-year-old me: "Dad, what's 'rape?' "
Dad: "It's when someone gets attacked.

12-year-old me: "How many years is a generation?"
Dad: "35 years."

me a few minutes later: "How many is 'a few?' "
Dad: "3."

me a few minutes after that: "How many is 'several?' "
Dad: "4."

14-year-old me: "What's the boundary between [two towns we grew up near]?"
Dad: "Your friend Kate's house."

The other day I was eavesdropping/listening to two kids on the train peppering their beleaguered parents with questions. I noticed that the parents refused to answer questions unless asked twice. E.g.

Kid: "Dad, why aren't we moving?"
Dad: [silence]
Kid: "Dad, why aren't we moving?"
Dad: "There's a train in front of us."

Kid: "Dad, where is Grandma's house?"
Dad: [silence]
Kid: "Dad, where is Grandma's house?"
Dad: "It's in California."

Granted, these questions were pretty easy to handle. But given the low energy level of these parents, I can only imagine how much more exhausted they would get if asked more challenging questions like "How does the train move," or "Why doesn't Grandma live with us."

For that next-level annoyance, I would highly recommend my Dad's patented strategy of making up simple, but false answers to hard questions, and delivering them with utmost confidence. "The train moves when the engineer kicks it." '"Grandma doesn't live with us because she is afraid of snow." I see nothing going wrong with these answers.

Too bad no one at work understands why, when they ask me for "a few copies," I make 3.


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