Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One Question, Many Answers

Note: Apologies for the weakness of today's cartoon post. The past week has been filled with family affairs and family members, and most recently, a hacking, snotty cold. Barring any further diseases, next post should be much more entertaining. But on we go.

We humans are a curious bunch. As such, we ask questions (we even have an upcoming holiday celebrating the practice!). Sometimes, we think to ourselves that these questions are simple enough. Surely they can be answered in a sentence or two (Anyone who has ever had a Gemarah class or sat at a Pesach seder has made this mistake). There are never any quick answers. There are sarcastic ones. There are lengthy ones. There are one that mean another hour between you and the Seder meal. And of course, the answer more often than not depends on who you ask.

During my year in Israel, that fragile, reckless time between high school and college, my friends and I tried out a lot of things we hadn't done before. No, not drugs, and not dangerous amounts of alcohol. Our experiments were on the safer side. One friend got her ears double-pierced. I dyed my hair purple (more on that in a later post, bli neder).

We also decided to try some new holiday traditions. For instance, when Purim came along, one of my suite-mates decided to forgo giving Mishloach Manot to our friends and instead created packages to hand out at the Kotel. I decided to tag along for the old-city distribution. This being Purim, of course, my dear pal decided to paint herself a delightful (if nauseating and slightly blinding) shade of orange, glue orange balloons to her belt, and parade around wearing an equally blinding sweatshirt featuring the blazing proclamation:

As we walked down the streets of Jerusalem, the whole old city was filled with people celebrating Purim in their own, semi-destructive ways. Little kids in costumes were hopped up on sugar and giving their parents hell. American exchange students were playing drinking games and getting passed-out, stinking drunk on benches. And tourists were, as always, taking pictures of the students who were getting passed-out, stinking drunk on benches and marveling at how colorful and cleaned-up the hobos were in this country.

On we walked, stepping around hyper little kids and tourists, when suddenly, a man stopped us. He stared intently at my friend’s sweatshirt for what seemed like a full minute, before looking her in the face and responding “Why not?”

Of course people will answer a rhetorical sweatshirt. This was Israel, and this was Purim. And for the rest of our walk, we were stopped every few minutes without fail by someone’s brilliant answer to the sweatshirt’s neverending question.

The drunk Yeshiva student:

The confused German tourist:

The young Israeli mother:

And the remarkably dignified:

Clearly, this was a guy who would be calling in sick for the rest of week in order to nurse a hangover and delete embarrassing Facebook photos. Ahhh, Purim.

It was a funny and interesting afternoon. And this year, I had another occasion to discover how one statement can get an amusing variety of answers. Sometime in late fall, when the days got cold and dark, and Seasonal Affective Disorder kicked in, I found myself frequenting the same uncomfortable symptoms.

I told several of my loved ones of my complaints, hoping for one easy answer. HA, naivete. My Psych-major best friend immediately responded with:

And so I asked various members of my family, who included the practical, center of the household:

And the natural-health-conscious:

I suppose these answers weren’t particularly funny (I should have asked a drunk friend for a more amusing one), but I still found it interesting.

But what drove home the concept of how one question leads to many, varied answers, depending on who's listening, was when I finally asked the expert in my family: the real doctor, who answered with a deadpan:

Okay. Maybe there are some simple answers.


  1. How about... You have the flu.. just like 50% of the people that I know right now...?
    Refuah shelema my darling!

  2. Is it just me, or does the picture of the Jewish mother look a lot like Meira?

    -Josh Eckmann


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