Friday, December 07, 2012

Stupid Questions

I love stupid questions. They always bring me up short, as though I’d run headfirst into a concrete wall at full gallop. I often have to go back and listen to the question again, since I couldn’t believe it the first time.

Television news often has a monopoly on stupid questions, and I have spent hours pondering just what sort of answer they might possibly have been expecting to inevitable (and utterly pointless) questions such as: “Tell me, Mr. Jones, exactly how did you feel when you found your wife and six children had been bludgeoned to death and run through the Cuisinart?” Do they really expect Mr. Jones to say “Oh, I just had a good laugh, poured them down the drain and went out to dinner”?

The degree of the stupidity of questions from reporters seems to go up exponentially depending on the number of reporters present. I especially love it when somebody is being hauled into court through a mob of reporters, who wave microphones and hop up and down and all but pee themselves in the general quest for truth. “Did you do it, Joe?” “Where did you hide the body/money, Joe?” Why bother with a trial at all? All we have to do is get Joe to say: “Sure, I did it; look under the tulip tree in my back yard.”

Why do they insist on asking the accused killer’s sweet little old mother if she thought he did it? What are the odds that she’ll say “Of course he did it! String him up!”

For a very brief period I was fascinated (the kind of fascination usually reserved for the Reptile Room at the zoo) by that TV show with Pat Sajak and Vanna White, where contestants politely request letters to fill in the blanks in a well-known phrase. My very favorite was one in which everything hinged on only one remaining letter in the nearly-completed phrase “Once Upon a _ime”. The contestant studied it carefully and said: “May I have a ‘D’, please?”

I enjoy asking my own stupid questions in response to stupid commercials. (“The number to call is 665-0023! That’s 665-0023! Just call 665-0023 now! 665-0023!” To which I always ask: “What was that number again?”) And that infuriating whatever-phone-company-it-is with the guy asking: “Can you hear me now?” I'd always cup my hand to my ear, squint at the TV, and shout “What?

Among generally asked stupid questions are: “You wouldn’t lie to me, would you?” “Can I trust you?” “Do you like my new nose ring and forehead tattoo?” and “I don’t look my age, do I look?”

I’m not the only one who is aware of stupid questions, and I’ve always been grateful to whoever first asked: “But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”

But of all the contenders for the world’s most stupid question, I think the winner, hands down, is the old classic: “Have you stopped beating your wife?” There’s nothing like a simple answer, I always say.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (


Kage Alan said...

Did I just read that correctly? You talk to your TV?

And since you brought up Mr. Sajac, do you recall at all when he had (for a short time) a late night talk show? I'm going to say it was back in 1988 or 1989. My roommate and I used to watch it in our dorm room together.

Ah, memories.

Dorien/Roger said...

Of course I talk to my TV. Nothing wrong with that. I'd only see it as a problem if the TV answered.

Whatever happened to Pat Sajack, btw?