These questions probably sound quite familiar: Where’s the beef? Do you know the way to San Jose? Et tu, Brute? Do you want to be Queen for a Day? What’s up, Doc? Got milk? Do you believe in miracles? Romeo, wherefore art thou? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Do you know the Muffin Man? Are we there yet?
Then there are random questions that make me giggle whenever I hear them: Why do we drive on the parkway and park in the driveway? Why is abbreviation such a long word? Why do noses run, but feet smell? How can a chance be both fat and slim? Is there a synonym for synonym? Why is a wise man respected but a wise guy is not?
Of course, we mostly ask questions to acquire knowledge or satisfy our curiosity. And thankfully we no longer have to wait until the library opens for access to the huge body of information therein contained. I consult Google countless times a day, while a good friend merely utters questions aloud and waits for answers from the disembodied voice that has taken up residence in her living room!
During my career in education, I fielded all manner of questions, some that were pretty tough. One of the most difficult appeared on the Old Testament final during my freshman year at Otterbein: “Trace the journey of the Israelites to the Promised Land.” Let me just say, underprepared as I was for such an inclusive question, my puny response did not even begin to fill my blue book.
And then during my freshman year of teaching – on the first day of classes in 1970 – one very sharp freshman girl stopped me cold with this simply-stated challenge: “What is literature anyway?” Let me just say, underprepared as I was for such an inclusive question – from a teenager, no less – well, I guess I eventually rebounded.
These days, however, I have a personal list of questions for which I have yet to find answers – although I keep asking. To date, no combination of library or Google info has provided any semblance of a response:
1. Why is there more liquid on the table than was originally in the glass before someone knocked it over? It seems a meager swig left in a glass will cover an entire tabletop during spillage, while a glass – whether half empty or half full – causes a deluge that drips onto the floor and requires a half roll of the “quicker picker upper.” The amount of liquid in question seems to increase if children are involved or the table is set with the “good” dishes. Perhaps an experiment in the physics lab is warranted.
2. Why does one’s hairstyle, looking worse with each succeeding day, suddenly appear magazine-cover worthy on the day of the long-awaited hair appointment? Each of us experiencing this follicle phenomenon, has at least once considered cancelling said rendezvous with the friseur – or the walk-in clip joint in the local strip mall. Experience shows it best to honor the appointment.
3. What is the first name of Mrs. Santa Claus? As I posed this question, several friends and family members quickly responded Holly. Google suggestions are many, variously given as Gertrude, Mary Christmas, Carol, and Jessica. Jessica? In the absence of a definite answer, I propose we give her the respect she is due by using her title. With all that cookie baking and elf delegation on her annual agenda – and then staying up all night while hubby circles the globe in the family sleigh, she deserves to be referred to as Mrs. Claus. Factoid: Although I came up Google-empty on the First Lady of the North Pole, I did run across Chuck E. Cheese’s official full name: Charles Entertainment Cheese. Who knew?
4. Why does the remote control to my new reading lamp also turn off my TV? Although by now I should be accustomed to such bizarre cyberspace shenanigans, living in the Bermuda Triangle of technology as I do, I still wonder at this unexplained oddity. Does my television ever want to take control of my reading lamp? Mostly I feel like an innocent bystander…
5. In the whole of the entire world, are there more doors or wheels? This question popped up recently on Jimmy Fallon’s show – the absolute epicenter for substantive discussion – and was traced to a hot topic of debate on TikTok, the other absolute epicenter for substantive discussion. With a question of such international import, I fully expect congressional legislation directing wheel-and-door census takers to fan out across the globe to investigate. Let us just hope the results will be free of fraud.
So many more unanswered questions plague me: Why does an angry mother yell out every other child’s name before she finally reaches the child actually in trouble? Why do mattresses suddenly have such odd names: Purple, Nectar, Leesa? If rainbows form during a summer rain, why are there no snowbows in winter? Alas, I must leave these inquiries for another day, another Google search.
Stop the presses! I have found an answer to the snowbow question. I kind of understand: sunlight needs to bounce off spherical raindrops for rainbow formation – and snowflakes are all angles. Such a pity. How nice it would be to enjoy rainbows and unicorns in summer, with snowbows and angels brightening the long winter days. Another dream crushed…
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.