Every once in a while, someone sends me that list of questions going around the internet. I decided to answer them, once and for all. Send more if you like.
1. Is it good if a vacuum really sucks?
Answer: Yes. But for a different reason than if the Steelers really suck but they’re in the Superbowl anyway.
2. Why is the third hand on the watch called the second hand?
Answer: Actually it isn’t. Look closely. The second hand is the first hand you get to. The other two are below it. The third hand is actually called the fourth, although no one knows why anymore. Things get a little more complicated if you bought that watch at a second hand store.
3. If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would we ever know?
Answer: Because I would tell you.
4. If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?
Answer: From a long conversation he had with a fellow named Steve Thesaurus.
5. Why do we say something is out of whack? What is a whack?
Answer: A whack is not a thing but a process. It is, or was, used to keep children in line. When one misbehaved, a librarian (I believe the year was 1921) was once heard to say, “His parents must have run out of whacks.”
6. Why does "slow down" and "slow up" mean the same thing?
Answer: Actually they don’t mean the same thing. Well, they do, but are used under vastly different circumstances. When a cop pulls you over for speeding, you slow down, hanging your head in shame, embarrassment, and/or regret. When you see a beautiful woman standing beside the road with a flat tire, you slow up, assuming a more vertical position out of hope, expectation, and/or desire. In either case, the end result will be the same – your luck has neither run down nor up, but out.
7. Why does "fat chance" and "slim chance" mean the same thing?
A. Because of the dance floor. Both the obese girl and the bulimic girl have the same chance of being asked to dance.
B. Because of political correctness. When referring to the odds of your winning the lottery, for example, you would, when talking to the fat girl, avoid using the term fat in favor of saying slim chance. When conversing with emaciated girls, you choose the term fat chance.
8. Why do "tug" boats push their barges?
Answer: It’s those Brits again. Originally it had nothing to do with pushing or pulling – it had to do with the shape of the boat, which reminded people of Santa’s belly. Back then, the Brits required ambulances and all other service vehicles to write their names backwards on the front of the vehicles so that people could read it in their rear-view mirrors. They called these boats gut boats, you know, like because of what I said about Santa. Ambulances still adhere to this policy, but gut boats abandoned the tradition when a tourist on the Thames remarked, “But none of the other boats have rear-view mirrors.”
9. Why do we sing "Take me out to the ball game" when we are already there?
Answer: It has to do with the IQ of baseball fans.
10. Why are they called "stands" when they are made for sitting?
Answer: Because of what baseball fans do in them when something exciting happens at a game, such as the seventh-inning stretch.
11. Why is it called "after dark" when it really is "after light"?
Answer: Finally, something I can sink my teeth into, as the inventor of The Nightcatcher. In the original version of “The Official Instruction Manual for Your Nightcatcher,” (since modified) I had a dilemma. Laying out 48 pages of a manual on a Word Program is not an easy task. Every page requires a totality. On one page, I ran out of room for the words needed. I had to make a decision whether to reduce the font size on that page, or cut out some words. Since my eye surgery, I have needed to maintain a 12-point font size minimum. My only choice was to remove a couple of words, so I changed the phrase “after the onset of darkness” to “after dark,” the excised words being left to the assumption of the reader. Seventh grade English teachers have a phrase for words left to the imagination of the reader, but I can’t remember what it is, and I’m way too busy making Nightcatchers to look it up.
12. Doesn't "expecting the unexpected" make the unexpected expected?
Answer: I expect so.
13. Why are a "wise man" and a "wise guy" opposites?
Answer: Because they are opposites. It’s fairly easy to tell which is which. Originally, it had to do with the way they tilted their hats, but now that no one wears hats anymore, the only way you can tell is to go to their Facebook page.
14. Why do "overlook" and "oversee" mean opposite things?
Answer: Look, I don’t have time for silly questions such as this. I have work to do. See? Over.
15. Why is "phonics" not spelled the way it sounds?
Answer: What’s your problem? I don't see no stinking problem.
16. If work is so terrific, why do they have to pay you to do it?
Answer: Only play is terrific. And players get paid terrifically. Like baseball players. People who work get paid very little. If you want to get paid a LOT, find something to do that doesn’t fall under the category of work.
17. If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?
Answer: In the stands.
18. If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?
Answer: Because it’s made of silk.
19. If you are cross-eyed and have dyslexia, can you read all right?
Answer: Cross-eyed dyslexics don’t read much, but if they’re lucky, they will surely know what silk feels like.
20. Why is bra singular and panties plural?
Answer: Because when something’s made of silk, grammar takes a back seat. Which is where I first... never mind.
21. Why do you press harder on the buttons of a remote control when you know the batteries are dead?
Answer: Well, it worked when I tried it on the silk.
22. Why do we put suits in garment bags and garments in a suitcase?
Answer: Not always. I’ll never forget the strange look I got from a guy when I was a photographer. I was shooting the entire graduating class of Lindenwood College one time, and this guy went into the dressing room carrying a suitcase. He was taking too long getting ready, so I stood near the door to see if I could tell if he was about ready or if I had time to grab a cigarette. I heard him say, “Ready? Are you ready? Are you sure? Okay, then, if you’re ready...here’s your surprise!” I backed away from the dressing room, far away, and waited. He came out alone, carrying a suitcase. He sat down on the posing stool, carefully setting the suitcase down beside him. Weird.
I asked him, “So, what’s in the suitcase?”
He said, “A suit.”
That’s when I got the strange look.
23. How come abbreviated is such a long word?
Answer: Because it’s really, really irritating when you find people who ab. a lot.
24. Why do we wash bath towels? Aren't we clean when we use them?
Answer: All I know is that when I was living in the wilderness for a year, and trying to remain civilized at the same time, the dirtiest thing in my possession was a soap dish. (And the first thing to turn green was my water filter.)
25. Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?
Answer: Because of the proprietary anti-stick coating they apply to the bottle. Which is why it’s so expensive. Otherwise, glue would only cost nine cents.
26. Why do they call it a TV set when you only have one?
Answer: Because that’s what you do in front of it – set.
You have to. I mean, stands are too big for your living room.
27. Christmas, what other time of the year do you sit in front of a dead tree, and eat candy out of your socks?
Answer: Hey, that’s not the only time for me. I did it in the wilderness on my birthday and had a fine time. A fine time.
28. Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?
Answer: Because we all have too much stuff. If we cleared all that Christmas crap out of the garage, we’d be able to get the car in there. Then the phrase would change to “Why do we drive on a parkway and park in a garage?” Such a question is hardly fascinating, which proves once again that it’s all that junk we pile up around us that makes us interesting.
My turn. I have two follow-up questions if I may: why do such interesting, intellectually challenging questions such as these, referred to as oxymorons, and requiring my afternoon to answer, contain the syllables “moron”? And, secondly, if “oxy” refers to oxygen, why am I panting after this is finally over?
Possible answer: I am a mouth-breathing moron.