Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Question

The idea that "There is no such thing as a stupid question" is well-known, and often said. How much truth there is in the stated idea, however, is another matter.

I, personally, think that it is the sign of an intelligent person to ask questions if you need to gain knowledge. I also, however, contend that there IS such a thing as stupid questions.

I was asked one the other day. One of the stupidest questions I've ever heard, in the most condescending manner.

At the moment, one of my jobs is at Coldstone Creamery. For those who have never been there, let me say that the point in going to Coldstone is to get your ice cream with toppings mixed-in. You can watch us mix the toppings in on this cold slab, and you get toppings in every bite, etc.

So this girl got some ice cream the other day, and one of the toppings in it was whipped cream. Whipped cream is one of those finicky items - so I asked her if she wanted the whipped cream mixed in, or on top. She chose on top.

Then: "Why would anyone want whipped cream inside?"

To begin with, this is a poorly phrased question. Inside what? Inside the store? Inside the universe? Inside your mouth? Presumably, she meant inside of the ice cream. Still, a poorly worded question is a poorly worded question.

I will admit, my response to her was less intelligent than could be desired. "Um...(shrug) some people like it mixed in their ice cream, and some like it on top. (Pause) It's just a matter of preference. (Longer pause) The whipped cream makes the ice cream fluffy."

All factual statements, and I was slightly thrown off by the question, which seemed idiotic to me, but not one of my strongest moments.

I restated something which was obvious. I indicated that the preference might somehow be connected to texture.

Overall, I could not be rude to the girl who asked me this question - but really, the obvious, smart ass replies to her question would be the most correct.

"Why not?"

"Why do YOU like whipped cream on top?"

"Does it matter? Do people always desire things that make sense?"

What thinking over this matter really leads me to think of, however, is dialogue.

In writing, stupid questions can help the story, effectively portray character, etc. And the answers are just as important - and hopefully, better than mine was the other day.

Do YOU have a funny, stupid question? Share it in the comments.

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