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Posted on Friday, June 5th, 2009

Dave!I am pretty much clueless when it comes to rhetorical questions.

I just thought I'd put that out there. This way, if we ever meet, there won't be an uncomfortable moment for you when you say "How are you?" and I respond with a ten minute dissertation on that strange burning sensation when I urinate. Or when you say something like "Why me?" and I give you a lecture on how God really doesn't like you very much, and your current plight is probably because The Almighty is punishing you for all that sinful masturbation.

It's a tragic character flaw, but at least now I know that I have a problem with rhetorical questions.

There was once a time that I was clueless about being clueless about rhetorical questions.

But all that changed one day thanks to my friend Oliver.

Olver is a very cool, very British, former co-worker who is incredibly fond of saying "Well that's not right, now is it?" when faced with a situation gone wrong. He says it constantly. There'd be a pickle on his sandwich when he asked for no pickle... "Well that's not right, now is it?" A print-out would be smeared with ink... "Well that's not right, now is it?" A woman with an unfortunate haircut would walk by... "Well that's not right, now is it?"

With most people, this would be annoying as hell, but when spoken with Oliver's posh English accent it never got old.

Apparently what was annoying was my constantly answering Oliver whenever he said "Well that's not right, now is it?"

Because one day when Oliver said "Well that's not right, now is it?" after the wrong text was placed in a document... I replied with "No, it most certainly isn't right!" and Oliver shot back with "THAT WAS A BLOODY RHETORICAL QUESTION! OF COURSE I KNOW IT'S NOT RIGHT!!!"

All I could say was "Oh, sorry!" and admit to myself that I have a problem.

This was only reinforced today when I was getting help at the drugstore and a very smelly woman waiting behind me mumbled "How much longer is this going to take?" Apparently I was asking too many questions about the right kind of splint to buy for my sprained finger.

Given my smart mouth, I really shouldn't have answered that particular rhetorical question...


  1. whitenoise says:

    Okay, don’t leave us hanging… 😉

  2. karla says:

    So then you are Mr. Literal, then. I’ll remember that.

    I have a problem where I ask myself rhetorical questions under my breathe. I’ll be all like, “Well, Karla, what kind of a dumbass are you?” and my husband will ask me what I just said, and I respond to him that I was talking to myself, and then he gets annoyed that I won’t repeat it (not worth doing, is it, when you are telling yourself what an arse you are) and on it goes.

    yet I continue to talk to myself, and he continues to accuse me of mumbling.


    Mr Literal? Meet Ms Rhetorical. We’d drive each other nuts.

  3. Hilly says:

    I’m pretty good with rhetorical question but as you know, I can be quite chatty in public situations. I’d have some smelly clambake mad at me for talking to the clerk about the difference between California and Florida summers or something inane like that.

    I kinda like the fact that when I ask you how you are, you generally tell me a story. Most people just say, “eh, fine”.

  4. delmer says:

    Up to the point you said, “It most certainly isn’t right,” I’d been reading “right now” as if it meant a point in time. As if it were sort of “that’s so yesterday.” I thought it was an odd expression but figured it worked with the British accent.

  5. Dave2 says:

    Ah, probably because I have the comma in the wrong place? Hmmm… I moved the comma to see if that helps! 🙂

  6. Sybil Law says:

    It’s not a character flaw, it’s ENDEARING.

  7. claire says:

    Hmm, I think of it as literal rather than clueless, but clueless probably is how other people view some of my responses to things.

  8. yellojkt says:

    You only ask rhetorical questions when you already know the answer or really don’t want to know the answer.

  9. Dave2 says:

    Uh… yeah… that’s what makes them rhetorical. 🙂

  10. A Lewis says:

    What in the hell??? There’s punishment for masturbation? Oh boy, I’m in for a real serious whoopin’.

  11. Dave2 says:


    Don’t you mean “beating?”


  12. Patty says:

    Yeah, I was wondering if you let that person behind you in line have it and what you said! I hate when people are inconsiderate.

  13. Iron Fist says:

    “How much longer is this going to take?”

    “Far less time than it will take to air out this corner of the store after you and your funk have left the premises, ma’am.”

  14. heather says:

    reminds me of when my nephew was and he used to say (all the time) “How could that be true?”, it was funny coming out of a 3 year old – but i find myself wanting to say it, well, all the time…

  15. John says:

    Jolly good then. : )

  16. whall says:

    Just think.. what if there were no hypothetical situations?

  17. I love this post. I saved it so I could read it twice. My sister is like this – we call it being very literal. Sometimes it makes me want to hit her kind of hard. Most of the time it’s good for a laugh.

    I’m only literal about the “how are you doing” question, and it constantly gets me into trouble. Why do people ask if they don’t want to know? Think up something else to say that isn’t a question!

    Also, I effing knew all that masturbation was going to catch up with me.

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