I’ve always been the type to ask a lot of questions. I can’t remember that time period or anything, but I’d bet that I was the kind of toddler I really hate, the one who always followed an answer with yet another, “Why?” In fact, I can only assume that one of the reasons I became such a fan of Sesame Street is because – to save the last fraying shred of their collective sanities – my parents shoved me in front of the TV to try to carve out just a moment of peace until my next question popped into my head and then immediately out of my mouth.
You know how every teacher you ever had growing up told the class, “There are no stupid questions”? Well, as a teacher, I can tell you that all of those teachers were lying. There are, of course, questions that are totally moronic and they are often asked by morons and, just as the question sails through the air and hits my ears, I can feel a surge of patience kick in like adrenaline usually does.
But I can’t fault those kids – well, maybe I can fault that one kid who, after watching every single movie, asked, “What was the point of that?” – for having and then asking all of those many questions because the truth is that we all have questions and I hope that we always do. In fact, these are just a few questions that ran bounding through my own head in the last week or so:
1. When you’re doing tricep exercises, is it possible that the muscle could actually snap in two like a baby twig? And if a muscle snaps and nobody is around, will I still hear it or is it like that tree falling in the forest thing?
2. Why is it that products that are basically marketed as fail-proof self-tanners end up making me look like I have bruises all over my arms? And, should someone inquire, would it make me appear more pathetic to say that I’m in a physically abusive relationship that I’m in the process of extricating myself from or that I have fucked up using a product that was literally marketed as impossible to screw up?
3. Is it possible to really look at the totality of Rachel Dolezal’s story and then justify her actions in any way? I’m not saying that she should not be able to be a part of the NAACP as a Caucasian woman – it’s an organization meant to be founded upon the ideals of tolerance and acceptance – but she lied and told stories with mountains of omissions and she’s answering many of the questions she’s now being asked while on her press tour in the kinds of nonsensical riddles that would annoy even a very drunk clown.
4. Oh, and when will she sign on for her very own reality show? Nobody thinks she’s just going to fade away now, right?
5. Short of faking my own death, is there a way that I can get certain family members to stop sending me email forwards that once originated from the account of a person who is a frequent commentator on Fox News? It’s not that I don’t love all of our frequent communication, but must anyone who once peed beside Bill O’Reilly be a key part of that communication?
6. How is it possible that my favorite kind of flip flops – the ones I’ve worn for years and once owned in seven colors – have been discontinued and cannot be located anywhere except used on eBay? I might be desperate, but I will not stick my feet onto a piece of rubber that actually has the stained imprint from someone else’s feet, so the eBay experience in this case will not work for me. But, while they were around and being sold new and toe-stainless, why did I not purchase eighty pairs and keep them locked in a closet like people in the fifties stockpiled canned goods in case an air raid wasn’t just a drill? I rue the day I didn’t buy a gross of those flip-flops – and I hate ruing days…
7. Where do slugs go in the winter? And yes, I realize that this question is like a really low-rent version of Holden Caulfield’s pondering about the ducks’ whereabouts and that it’s just always nicer to think about a duck instead of a slug, but none of that is really the point here. Seriously: where do the slugs go? And is there any way that maybe they can get permanent citizenship there?
8. Okay, so yet another Halloween is coming out? How old, exactly, are we to believe Michael Myers is by now, because you know how some people know biblical stories by heart? Well, I’m not one of those people but I do know my Halloween origin story like the back of my blotchy-fake-tanned hand and what I know is that Mr. Myers should be collecting Medicaid by now.
9. When you’re at a friend’s house for a barbeque and it’s dessert time and the ice pops come out and every child in the neighborhood under the age of seven magically appears in the backyard and they all simultaneously beg to get the very first ice pop from the box, it would be impolite to say to a five year old, “You’re being so stupid right now. Everyone is going to get an ice pop. It’s not like one person is gonna get the thing and then the rest of you have to stand there and watch while she eats the entire thing while telling you how delicious it is,” right? And should you break and call a five year old “stupid,” what kind of long-term damage are we talking about? Can infrequent therapy work it all out or will that kid start killing parakeets in the near future?
10. Why are the oddly prophetic dreams that I sometimes have in the post-midnight hours always about other people – and how is it that I’m usually correct in those infrequent prophecies?
11. Are there really be people out there in this hyper-technological day and age who believe that any comment or email you send somebody cannot actually be traced? Or are those the kind of things you learn because your parents are close to Senators and Congressmen who talk frequently about the ease in which one can find out necessary information?
12. Is any family totally normal? And, should there actually be a family that qualifies, might I spend Thanksgiving at your house? I will bring the dessert.
13. I know I say it frequently as a joke, but can it really be that I was absent on the day they taught geography? Because I literally know where nothing is, not even the places I’ve been, and there was something a bit embarrassing yesterday when I asked a guy what countries are near Amsterdam and if he could easily get himself to Prague.
14. If I really and truly concentrated, could I actually train myself to speak more slowly forever? Like, would it finally organically really take at some point or would it always feel like I intentionally housed four Quaaludes?
15. It’s tempting to want to screw with fate so as to hurdle over some of the sadness that followed some pivotal events in your life, but if I could go back and redo any single day in my entire life, would I choose to relive a day that was perfect so I could have the experience again or would I choose to go back to a moment of misery so I could alter all that came next? The possibility of avoiding pain is seriously tempting, but I’d live those gloomy hours all over again twice and take the good day as my do-over just so I could have one more day where I got to walk next to him on a beach listening to my father’s laughter.
16. How is it that I actually have tricked myself into believing that Greek yogurt is just as delicious as vanilla soft serve Carvel with different colored sprinkles – and at what point in the near future might I break and storm the local Carvel and stick my head underneath the soft serve machine and just open my mouth up wide while handing the server a fifty?
17. Does every writer go back to edit her work and come across sentences she didn’t remember crafting in the first place? And why are those often the very best parts of the entire thing?
18. Is there anything worse than having to actually tell your mother that, should anything happen to me in this crazy world, that here is my login information and my password for this site? Is saying it worse than her terrified reaction that follows? Is that why the Senators were called or did she maybe just want to say hello?
19. Has putting into practice my choice to start each day by saying to myself, “It’s going to be a great day!” actually twisting the universe in my favor in the way that waking up and saying, “Motherfuck, it’s early!” didn’t? Because it actually feels like it might be working.
20. Can strong feelings actually change like the temperature overnight? That one? It’s a question I can actually answer, and I’m so happy to tell you that yes – yes they can.