Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,
Chuck
charlesofcamden

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When will the rhetorical questions stop?

I have searched for many years for the elusive Rhetorical Answer. Einstein predicted their existence, and they should be out there, but all we have so far are a few tantalizing glimpses. The closest I have come thus far is the phrase, “Well… y’know.”

Perhaps I should leave such matters to more educated minds and stick with what we do know.

Anyone who knows me (and you know who you are) should know that I have always enjoyed trying to answer rhetorical questions. A recent example: After one of our cats had done something particularly adorable, CC posed the query, “What would we do if we didn’t have kitties?” I helpfully replied, “Well, we’d go out and get some.”

Sometimes, though, I have attempted such answers to my own detriment. A few years ago, along with a large group of co-workers, I took part in an etiquette workshop. Yes, I know… I can hear your snickers and snide remarks all the way through cyberspace. Be that as it may, the facilitator at one point asked the group, “Who here likes small talk?”

Alas, poor me. I failed to recognize it as a rhetorical question, asked with the assumption that no one likes small talk. My immediate thought was, “Heck yeah! I love small talk!” – so my hand shot up. I quickly realized that no one else’s hand was up, and people were guffawing all around me. The facilitator patiently and kindly explained that her question had been rhetorical in nature, and she tactfully decided not to pursue why I should have failed to recognize this fact. While I appreciated her discretion, I’m still not sure it was an entirely fair question. Perhaps on another occasion, I will defend the noble art of small talk, as well as my firm belief that almost everyone employs it from time to time, and that pretending otherwise is a bit disingenuous… but I’ll let it go for today. Let me just say that our facilitator was a very nice lady and I learned a lot from her.

By the way, if anyone has any suggestions for other Rhetorical Answers, I’d love to hear them!

…and a tip of the metaphorical cap to the late George Carlin, from whom I borrowed the title of this post.
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