Friday, August 29, 2014

What does that mean?

Once upon a time, after the dinosaurs were gone but when you could still hear the echoes of their footsteps, I was a small child in elementary school. Even back then, I liked science fiction novels, but would settle for reading six chapters ahead in the textbook rather than listen to the teacher go at the pace of the slowest kid in class. However, I didn't understand everything I read or heard, so I'd often ask my parents.

The sad part is, all those burning questions I was so frustrated at the answer "wait until you're older"? I don't remember any of them now. And half the ones I went to look up in the dictionary, I forgot due to distraction. Wikiwandering is nothing new to any kid who had encyclopedia sets or the unabridged OED available.

However, there were some answers that made a LOT of sense, and Daddy could tell me answers for hours.

(This would have been several years before daddy started teaching me about depleted uranium's really cool uses (even more versatile than enriched uranium!), but probably about the time he had me memorize the periodic table with lots of "Hydrogen goes boom, helium makes you squeak when you talk, and lithium burns really hot and sets the asphalt parking lot on fire if you toss a cube out the lab window into a snowbank.")

The second time an elementary school teacher asked a puzzling question, by G-d, I had an answer.

"What would happen if they held a war and no one came? Um.... yes, Little Wing?"

"Conquering, looting, pillaging, and burning! Like all the city-states that didn't have allies handy when Ghengis Khan came to town, or the Vikings rowed in from the sea! Did you know the Assyrians used to make walls with the skulls of their defeated enemies?"

That night, I had a new question for daddy. "The elementary school teacher tried to give me detention, but the principle said your answer was right. Daddy, what's a rhetorical question?"


  1. In a similar era (I think the dinosaur footsteps may have been muffled by our soundproofing), I had an art teacher who was concerned I was being abused because I always drew pictures of violence. So, he told me I could not draw anything that involved war...

    You should have seen his face when I handed in the drawing of dinosaurs attacking one another.

  2. This is Sanford, and you both got chuckles out of me. Out loud chuckles which I seldom do when reading. And I love your answer to the idiotic question :)

  3. James Young:

    I guffawed, I'll admit. Loved it.

  4. "what's a rhetorical question?"... It's the one that gets your butt in trouble... sigh... :-D

  5. I'm a lawyer's son. You give me a loophole while being goofy, I'm not only to find that sucker, I'm going to exploit it like Jackson at Chancellorsville.

  6. Har!

    (Now to go look up the distinctions between "looting" and "pillaging"....)