Monday, March 14, 2011
Soon, I'll go back and review OTHER riddles from when I was a kid to figure THEM out. (Quote of the Day 58)
-- Answer to a riddle.
The riddle is What do you get when you cross an elephant with a rhino? I was asked that riddle -- I recall it distinctly -- when I was about 10 years old, by my Uncle Steve.
Uncle Steve was able to, scarily enough, do a spot on impersonation of Jack Nicholson in The Shining; he had the same long-straight hair, the same weird eyes, the same angular face, and if he hadn't been blonder than Jack Nicholson, would likely have had a career as Nicholson's stunt double or something.
But he wasn't mimicking Jack Nicholson on this occasion; he was, instead, simply asking 10-year-old me a riddle.
10-year-old me, much like 42-year-old me, never really got how to interact with people in society, though, and didn't really understand other people, so when Uncle Steve asked me that riddle, and I said "I give up" or whatever it is 10-year-old nephews say to their slightly-scary uncles, and Uncle Steve said "Elefino!" and laughed -- and Uncle Mark and Uncle Bob and Uncle Bill laughed, too, and the other kids, my brothers and cousins, laughed, I laughed, too, but what I thought was this:
What's an "elefino"? Is that like an albino elephant?
I spent the rest of that night ... and off and on for decades after that... wondering about that joke. Why would an elephant and a rhino have an albino baby? I wondered. Or, if not an albino, what was the point of the joke? Simply a combination of elephant and rhino that sounded funny?
Then -- and this is a totally true story -- one day not very long ago, when I was in my forties, I was driving along and talking on the phone and I said to the person I was talking to on the phone "Hell if I know," and suddenly the joke clicked into focus for me and I finally got it.
So that's what I'm thinking about today.