…someone asked a stupid question.
I know some amazing teachers. People who want to mold, guide and prepare future generations. I have tremendous respect for those folks, and there are several to whom I owe a great debt. However, we aren’t going to talk about them today.
Today, we’re going to talk about Mrs. Wilcox. Mrs. Wilcox taught me important lessons. In the third grade, she taught that, not all teachers love their job, not all women love children, and that in 1979 not everyone had conquered their double-knit polyester addictions.
Mrs. Wilcox looked like Dorothy Hamill’s over-worked discontent great-aunt Gertrude. She had the look often described in Texas as ‘rode hard and put up wet’. (If you’ve ever been around horses, you’ll have a clear visual.) There are three things I remember Mrs. Wilcox saying ad nauseam in a (clearly successful) attempt to drum them into my head.
- Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy.
- You have the handwriting of a sloppy third-grade boy.
- And…Children who talk too much get lockjaw. Then, they can’t eat and they die.
When she first told us about CIT (Conversationally Induced Tetanus), I went home and shared my new knowledge with Mama. I’m certain she later regretted her failure to capitalize on my absolute belief in the teacher’s story, but luckily for me, my mother burst out laughing. After several minutes of unrestrained hilarity, Mama explained that the teacher was ‘full of bull’. I was then treated to an interesting lecture on tetanus, rusty nails, and vaccinations. I was embarrassed to have been duped, and I was miffed. Suddenly, I began to doubt every word Mrs. Wilcox spoke.
I’ll admit to having terrible handwriting when I was young. I think it was because I’m a lefty and my parents and teachers were all ‘righties’. Whether that excuse holds water or not, I did invest a lot of time retraining myself. I now have two distinct handwriting styles. If I know someone might read it, I have clear old-fashioned cursive. If I’m writing quickly or a note to myself, the CIA, FBI, and NSA together couldn’t crack the code. However, I still resent Mrs. Wilcox making me stay in from recess alone to practice penmanship! AND…It didn’t look like a boy’s writing, anyway. Humph.
However, the biggest whopper Mrs. Wilcox told was, “Honesty is always the best policy”. That, my friends, is a lie of epic proportions! Believe me, there are times when honesty isn’t an acceptable Plan H, much less the best Plan A!
When Aunt Mildred asks how you like the green fuzzy sweater she knitted you, the correct answer is NOT, “It’s itchy, and it makes me look like a giant watermelon!” I know some people will say we should find a truthful AND polite answer. So, how about, “It was so thoughtful of you to make it for me. It makes me feel special”. Let me tell you, I crochet. If I make an involved gift for someone, ‘thoughtful’ and ‘special’ are great bonus words, but I want to hear that it’s beautiful, the color is lovely, and it’s exactly what they wanted. I also think Aunt Mildred would be more persistent. “Isn’t the color pretty? Don’t you just love the fuzzy yarn? I thought you could wear it to Cousin Stacy’s wedding. It matches her colors.” At some point, you’ll be given two choices. The red pill or the blue pill? Will you hurt Aunt Mildred’s feelings or lie like a rug?
Let’s take this further and look at one of the biggest lies. I’m referring to a lie often told with the best of intentions. However, everyone recognizes it for what it is. We all know it’s a lie! I’m referring to the statement “there are no stupid questions”. I, myself, have frequently told young nurses, “the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask”. Obviously, this is a ‘white lie’ designed to make them comfortable asking stupid questions. Because, the truth is, on occasion we all have stupid questions!
Sometimes, smart people ask the most stupid questions. Furthermore, if you have a stupid question ask it! That way, you can prevent problems, learn, and have a less stupid question next time. I consider myself to be of average intelligence, but I’ve asked some serious clangers through the years! However, once people stopped laughing, they answered my question. I learned, I grew, and I asked a better question the next time.
About ten years ago, I was sitting with a friend in a parking lot. I read a sign painted on a restaurant window and asked, “What is ‘whiffie’, anyway?” She made me repeat it several times before bursting out laughing. Then, between bouts of breathless giggles, she explained what ‘wi-fi’ is. Believe me, I made a point of learning all about wi-fi and how to use it! I hate feeling stupid, but I’d rather ask and feel stupid, than not ask and remain ignorant!
I’ve discovered, that any lifestyle outside of the norm invites stupid questions. Once you realize that most people are genuinely curious, answering those questions is fun. I like to teach, and we’ve had some amazing teachable moments. There are also those who take the chance to disguise judgment or condemnation as a question. That’s a very different thing, and I have no problem smiling sweetly and ‘blessing their heart’ Texas style as I shut that stuff down. I’m very much a ‘choose your own path, but don’t tell me I’m on the wrong one’ kind of girl.
Since this is Friday on the Funny Farm, we’re obviously going to discuss ‘stupid’ farm questions. But, let me clarify a couple of things. First, there are certain questions we get frequently that make us smile or chuckle, but aren’t stupid questions. I’m going to list some chicken questions as examples: “Do you have to have a rooster to get eggs?” “Do meat chickens lay eggs?” “Where does the egg come out?” “So, your chickens are vegetarian, right?” These examples aren’t stupid questions. They’re basic, naive, and chicken-ignorant questions. But, for people who grew up only seeing eggs and boneless skinless chicken breast from the store they’re an understandable and valid effort to learn.
Secondly, it’s a safe assumption that as a polite, basically nice, person I gave polite, basically nice, answers to the following questions. However, it’s also safe to assume that a muscle in my left cheek was fighting the urge to twitch with repressed laughter and/or sarcasm. My family tends to communicate through affectionate sarcasm. However, as a reasonable facsimile of an adult, I’ve learned to fake normal pretty well.
In tribute to my heroic left cheek muscle and its iron self-control, I’ve decided to add the snarky suppressed responses in italics after each question. Let me say that again! The answers in italics are not what I said! Those are the answers my (intermittently leaky) mental filters caught and kept me from inflicting on an unsuspecting public. Now, let’s move on to the fun part! These are actual questions we’ve been asked (some more than once).
‘Stupid Questions’ for the Funny Farm:
- Why can’t you just buy your meat at the store like everyone else? That way no animals would have to die!—Oh, my goodness! I never realized those little Styrofoam trays were actually a growing medium for DNA recumbent chicken tissue samples!
- So, what do you do with a pig’s gizzard?—I cook them low and slow with garlic and red wine. Well, at least I will…when pigs fly! (Get it? Only birds have gizzards! ;-p)
- If there’s poop on the egg, that means its organic, right?—Yes! So are babies’ bums, my sheep pen, and the filthy floors of some gas station bathrooms. After all, they’re all covered in poop, ergo, they’re organic!
- You eat your animals?!? I couldn’t do that! …Well, yes, Frank does deer hunt, but it comes from the butcher wrapped as MEAT! I couldn’t eat an animal!—Oh, Dear, don’t worry! I’ve ordered some of the miracle white paper. As soon as it comes in, I’ll magically transform all of my ‘animals’ into ‘meat’ and all will be right with the world!
- If you do it yourself, there’s no inspector. How can you really know it’s safe?—Oh, we could never trust our own judgement! We have a special Homestead Health Inspector! He makes sure our eggs are properly washed, our meat is perfectly chlorinated, and our bread has the perfect ratio of crust to crumb to human hair, duck feathers, and ammonia. He also ensures that only four squares of toilet paper are used per bathroom visit and the dogs’ bowl is sanitized! (If you google the ingredients in some commercial bread you’ll be grossed out, but you’ll find this comment much funnier!)
- You have meat rabbits?!? What do you do when they get too old to make meat?—Well, when they stop laying little tenderloin filled Easter eggs, we send them for a holiday on Rabbit Island in Japan. When they’ve rested, they take jobs (part-time only, of course) as magic show assistants or as extras in the remake of Watership Down.
- Do you milk your horses?—Oh, of course! We are actually thinking of expanding into a full dairy. There’s a great market for equine-embert!…What? Oh, it’s a cheese that can only be made from the milk of 10-year-old quarter horse geldings!
- So, how do they get the ham from the pigs?—The pigs sell ham on the side for extra cash. Rumor has it they like to invest in the stock exchange. That’s why “this little piggy went to market”.
- Couldn’t they just anesthetize the pig and remove the ham surgically?—They’re actually experimenting with that process in Switzerland! I just read a terrific article on it. They’ve also found a way to remove the bacon, while giving the pig a simultaneous tummy tuck. What a win-win!
- Do you have to have a rooster to hatch chicks?—Not since we spliced in the frog DNA.
- Do your sheep have to be bred to have lambs?—No. We specifically chose our breed based on its well-known ability to immaculately conceive!
- Don’t you think farm life might be too traumatic for the kids?—By the time we realized that kids shouldn’t be exposed to life, death, or hard work until age thirty, it was too late. They were already responsible and contributing individuals. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do to make them normal again.
- Do you realize how long your commute is?!?—Well, shucks, I never thought to check the distance before we bought the place. So, I was right shocked the first time I drove to work. However, after we put in the fireplace and invested in Floo Powder, it’s the most magical time of my day!
- Doesn’t putting rabbit poop in the garden make the vegetables dirty?—It’s ok. We have a special rabbit poop solvent on tap in our yard. If we give them a little scrub, they’re almost as clean as the veggies sprayed with all those great pesticides!
Do rams make milk?—Well, we have one. Her name is Ewe-niss. She is the ewe formerly known as Ram-a-ses. Last year, he realized he gender identifies as a ewe. Since her epiphany, she’s been undergoing hormone therapy. She’s got this lactation thing down!
Now, for a few brief public service announcements:
All names have been changed to protect the privacy of the innocent and annoying alike.
I asked everyone who “contributed” stupid questions for permission to use them. (It’s ok, they know they’re smart people. Also, they’ve all been comfortable asking more about our lifestyle.)
If you see a question you’ve asked, and I didn’t ask your permission, it’s because you happened to ask the same question as someone else (or several someones).
If you know me in real life and you know anyone who asked one of these questions, please respect their privacy. Please, don’t wander around announcing that JimBob was the one who asked about horse milk.
Remember, we want people to ask farming and food questions! The only way to have a population that understands their food is to educate them. If they’re starting at a place where stupid questions live, that’s ok. We can educate them one ‘stupid question’ at a time. Soon, they’ll move on to basic, but more logical questions. Eventually, we may find ourselves asking them questions. Let’s just hope ours don’t sound too stupid!
Share a ‘stupid’ question in the comment box below. Share your own or one you’ve answered. Just please give the ‘question asker’ anonymity. No one likes to be perceived as stupid. However, remember appearing stupid is better than remaining ignorant!
Fridays on the Funny Farm: There are Stupid Questions was a Host’s Favorite Feature on Simple Saturdays Blog Hop! If you have time, check out some of the other great articles shared at the hop!
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