Inspired by on of the coffee threads, I remembered something that happened between me and my dad. My dad had a weird sense of humor, and was full of one-liners and odd-ball remarks, but this one threw me for a loop.
He was over at my place for a couple of days, helping me with some stuff around the house. I was making coffee, and innocently asked him;
“Dad, how do you ussually drink your coffee?”
“At the kitchen sink, in my boxershorts, scratching my ass…”
Totally true answer, since the doctor only allowed him one cup a day to get started in the morning. But still delightfully weird.
The story is told of a sax player in Jimmy Dorsey’s band in the 1940s who cultivated an aloof, intimidating hipster persona (apparently women loved it). Anyway, whenever he met some square who greeted him with “How do you do?” he’d glare at them and growl, "How do I do what?"
I make a point of occasionally completely failing to understand questions my kids ask me; for example, yesterday, they came in while I was halfway through watching a TV documentary about the Galapgos Islands; my daughter pointed and asked 'what’s that?"
I replied “It’s a television set”.
The alternative strategy for this particular kind of question is to look not at the object they’re pointing at, but instead look closely at their pointing finger and answer “It’s your finger”.
Keeps them on their toes and I think it has actually helped them to learn to frame unambiguous questions.
My college campus is often crawling with young representatives of banks, LDS churches, etc. trying to win over converts and customers. When the church people try to give me a bible or a Jesus card, I tell them “Sorry, I’m broke” without breaking my stride and walk right on by, ignoring their protests. I play it the other way around for the bankers: I tell them that my god, Zorastra, despises banking and that they should really not be trying to piss Him off any more than they already are, and did I mention he’s the God of Fire? I also tell the people pushing political causes that I’m an illegal immigrant from Vietnam (I’m white as bread).
I’m not sure that this counts as a normal question, but I’m teaching information literacy and the first day of class I passed out an assessment sheet for the students to fill out.
One of my questions was “Name an information literacy skill you already posess”
Answers varied, from none, to using google, to “Mouse clicking”
OK, I just finished telling the class that information literacy skills include computer usage, as well as research skills . . . but mouse clicking is kind of a stretch. It did make me smile, and I think I wrote “cute” on his assessment.
I was kinda dissapointed that the guy who wrote A+ next to grade on his quiz didn’t in fact earn anything resembling an A±-but not surprised.
“Anyone want dessert? There’s ice cream in the freezer if anyone wants it!”
My Dad: “Actually I think you’ll find that there’s ice cream in the freezer even if no one wants it”
I also went to school with a guy whose favored response to “How do you feel?” was “With my hands”
I myself will confess that when the dentist’s office had me fill out one of those multipage questionnaires in the waiting room, I answered the inquiry “How do you brush your teeth?” by writing “With a toothbrush” in the blank.