Sunday, May 22, 2005

Tired of rhetorical questions?

Part of staying married, I believe, is to build a resistance or coping method for rhetorical questions. "Is somebody going to open the door, or am I just going to have to stand here." Every so often it requires conscious effort to stifle my smartass reply. That's what we do.
Early training with parents and siblings helped me to navigate these treacherous moments. Initially, it never occurs just how inane the phrase "Are you asleep?" can be. I'm trying to remember a time that I was able to answer "Yes."
Of course, anyone with an older brother can relate to this one: "Want to see something that really hurts?" There are lots of reasons to answer yes to that one, but certainly not if you're the only other one in the room. Lots of home chemistry and laws of physics were explored under the auspices of that particular inquiry.
All of this to say that the true proving ground for rhetorical questions is marriage. "Are you coming for dinner or not?" I'm a smart guy, and I've figured out (through trial and error, alas) that answering "no" to that one will probably get you a TV dinner upside the head. Not that I can blame my wife for reacting the way she might. I have made some careful study of the line that I dare not cross. "Are you coming to bed soon?" can be answered with another question - define "soon." The ones that give either/or options are tougher: "Are you going to pick that up, or are you going to leave it there until someone else picks it up?" That usually invites a discussion of the alternatives, usually standing in very close proximity to the offending object to maximize frustration.
Then there are the ones that sneak up on you: "Can you hear me?" I confess that I have shouted "No" from the opposite end of the house without thinking too much about it. I suppose I didn't expect to hear her, but at the last minute, my speech center let me down. The answer to the first one - about the door - is to get off the couch and open the door. Isn't that interesting?

3 comments:

andy said...

you dont know me, and i didnt read your entry, but i like the title.

Robin said...

Any chance that second paragraph was inspired by an animated Marilyn-Manson-esque Riddler this weekend (possibly causing Frank Gorshen to turn over before even reaching his grave)?

Anonymous said...

you need BillEngvall, comedian
- black and blue notes