Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Inquisition

In college I sat in a huge auditorium during an introductory psychology class with three hundred other equally clueless students.  The outrageously leonine and tweedy prof stood there, triumphantly tenured, peered at us over his half-spectacles through the bushiest eyebrows I had ever seen and have ever seen since, and in a slurred and probably drunken voice declared: “Forget what you’ve been told.  There are such things as dumb questions.  Always think before you ask.”

I was floored, and I have never forgotten that lesson.  I have asked countless questions in my lifetime, and through the filter of the lie that we have been told as children “there is no such thing as a dumb question,” we grow up learning that it is okay to ask anything and that no one will think you ridiculous for asking.  We are told that the spirit of the questioning overrides any ignorance about the topic at hand, because it shows a level of humility and readiness to be taught that any rational person welcomes in another human being.  It’s refreshing. 

But there is a line.  When you are an adult, it is okay to ask questions unless they are dumb ones.  When you are an adult, you must hold back.  You must know which questions are dumb and refrain from asking them.  You cannot fire questions at people and expect them to always respond positively to your line of questioning, unless they hold the key to any and all information on a subject that you are interested in learning.  If you don’t think before you ask, and you ask a lot of dumb questions, you will annoy people.

You’re welcome.

I love my husband.  I’m his wife, and as a wife you’re supposed to say that, or else people look at you with pity in their eyes and silently high five themselves for truly loving their husbands while you are judged for obviously struggling in your marriage, because there is an unwritten rule that even though marriage is the hardest relationship in the entire universe, you are supposed to act like it is both easy AND breezy.

Which it isn’t, OK?  I don’t care if you’re Hugh Jackman’s wife and you are so lucky to be married to him that you spend every day smiling at yourself in the mirror for obviously winning the husband jackpot.

So anyway, I love my husband.  BUT.

He never learned the ‘Think before you ask’ lesson I did in college.  He frequently asks questions as a means of conversation.  And many of his questions are dumb ones.  I mean, it's obvious that he didn't put any time into the thoughts behind these questions.  Here are a few that occurred recently:

(My husband): What are you doing?  I am sitting at the computer, paying bills.  My answer:  Right now I am catching up on writing fan mail to myself and doing my hourly Kegel count.  I just sent $10,000 to this businessman in Nigeria who promised me $100,000 in diamonds after the check clears.  I figured you wouldn’t mind.

Is that hairspray?  Asked as he ‘keeps me company’ while I get ready after a shower.  It’s a little weird that he watches me dry off all the parts of my body that I wish didn’t exist, but that's his nightmare.  When he asks if I am spraying hairspray on my body out of a fragrance bottle, I get a little testy.  My answer: Yes.  I am spraying hairspray all over myself before I put my clothes on.  It’s supposed to be good for your skin.  And your eyes.  Would you like to try?  Open wide.

What are you thinking about having for dinner?  Asked during hour 8 of a 10-hour day that I spent with our daughter at a mildly tortuous and lengthy academic tournament, while he was at home most of the day.  My answer (after taking some deep breaths and silently thanking God that there were no sharp objects in my hands):  Gee, I don’t know.  I was thinking about going home and drinking a bottle of wine.  Maybe I’ll chase it with some tequila shots if I’m still hungry afterwards.  If you and the kids don’t want that, then you are on your own.

What are your plans for tonight?  Asked on a Friday at 5 pm, after I’ve completed a solid week of manual work done inside the house.  I am sweaty, exhausted, and irritable.  My answer:  None.  I have no energy to answer such a dumb question.  I instead turn on the water in the shower as hot as I can stand, stand under the stream, and weep as I think that Hugh Jackman probably gives his wife daily footrubs.

What are you making?  Asked as I stand at the kitchen counter, a huge bowl of chopped-up lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, and green peppers in front of me.  I am chopping up a red pepper to add to the bowl.   My answer:  I’m making hot dogs.  Do you want one?

What do the kids want to do?  Asked as the kids stand right there in front of both of us.  My answer:  Kids!  Your father wants to know: What do you want to do?  Then: You know, the kids can hear as well as respond intelligently.  Someday you must learn to speak to them directly.

(Holding up a movie) Do you want to watch this movie?  I am sitting with a book, taking pleasure in some peace and quiet. My answer: Not really.  Do you want to rent another one?  My answer: (realizing that my first answer was the wrong one) OK.   Which movie do you want to see?  My answer:  I don’t care.  Do you want to see (movie A)?  Do you want to see (movie B)?  Do you want to see (movie C)?  I don’t care.  Please pick one. Which movie were you thinking about getting?  I wasn’t.  YOU ASKED ME IF I’D LIKE TO WATCH A MOVIE.  PICK ONE FORTHELOVEOFEVERYTHINGTHATISHOLY!!!!!  OK.  But which one were you thinking?

It goes on forever, folks.  It has become kind of a joke, if jokes were intended to drive the recipient to the edge of sanity.  The bright spot is that he gives me plenty of opportunities to practice my snark. 

The dark spot is that for him, there is still no such thing as a dumb question.

I like to call him "The Inquisitor"

The other bright spot?  That he is OMG - so cute.



  1. Loved it! Thanks for the laughs!

  2. OK, I rarely LOL for real when I'm alone, but I totally did. And this post will probably be bouncing around my head at every baseball game I see Keith at and I'll be giggling to myself...but don't tell him. I'd hate for him to feel me laughing at him. ;)

  3. OK, but don't be surprised if he comes over and asks you what you are you laughing about. It's totally within his normal behavior to do so.

  4. Oh, how funnny - I laughed so loud I almost woke the sleeping Kidzilla. This is hysterical, of course, because we have such similar conversations in our house. The end was maybe the best because after a conversation like this when I have reached my absolute end of tolerance for such conversations, my Hub invariably looks at me and actually says to me, "I'm cute. You love me."

    1. That's great!! That comment would defuse/disarm me every time. Cuteness can cover a multitude of sins, which in my opinion is a win for everyone in this situation.