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)


Elefino!

-- 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.

1 comment:

Rogue Mutt said...

I didn't get that until you explained it either. I've had it happen though where I'll be watching an episode of "The Simpsons" or something I've seen a hundred times and suddenly I pick up on a joke I'd missed all those other times.

In a lot of cases I guess it's because when you get older and more experienced you understand some things better. Or in the case of "The Simpsons" and other shows, more steeped in pop culture references they might be parodying.

In your case your 10-year-old self probably wasn't thinking of curse words because those are naughty, right? That's something adults would think up.