David Moseley

Life's impossible questions

2013-04-16 10:01

David Moseley

The internet and smartphones, with instant access to every answer to every conceivable question, have changed the way we process information.

Children and the ill-informed no longer have to ask a wise head when a query formulates. They simply look it up, in the process becoming more ill-formed on their journeys of non-discovery.

Still, there are some questions that not even a super computer from the distant advanced AI future will be able to answer. Not even Deep Thought would stumble upon the answers to these ultimate questions, questions that push the trifling "why are we here?", "what is the meaning of life?" and "why is Heinrich Brussow not in the Springbok squad?" robustly aside.

Ultimate questions

In my life, my mom was the early asker of these ultimate questions. They would usually be directed at my oblivious father, three hours into a five-hour drive to Knysna.

"Trevor," my mother would clip after nearly two hours and 59 minutes of road trip silence. Yes dear? "Did you close the garage door?"

My brother and I, dozily watching the scenery whizz by would perk up. This, we knew, was the start of something dramatic.

Depending on my father's mood, it could all fizzle out as quickly as it flared, with a simple "of course".

Or the tables could be turned. "Well now is a fine time to ask, Mary. Why didn't you think of that while we were in the driveway? I can't remember if I closed the door or not."

How can you not have closed the garage door, my mother would cry in anguish, close to shrieking but not quite. It leads straight into the house!

"I'm not saying I didn't close it, Mary. I'm asking why you're asking me if I closed the damn thing three hours into our trip."

Don't get angry. I'm just checking.

"But what is the point of 'just checking' when we're closer to Knysna than we are to our house."

Why are you getting so cross, Trevor?

"Mary?! I. Am. Not. Cross."

With sniggers rising from the back of the car after 10 minutes of this parental discussion my mom would turn to us, "What are you two laughing at in the back?"

"Nothing! But, we closed the garage door." Snigger, snigger.

With steam visible from the driver's side, a slow and silent "fu-u-u-u-uck" would emerge and quickly evaporate. My dad's holiday had begun.

Unanswerable questions

Naturally, the baton of unanswerable questions has been passed from my mother to my wife. A favourite of hers occurs on riding weekends away. Kitted up and ready to go, I'll often here a tentative squeak from the bedroom.

"Da-a-a-avi-i-id?" (The longer my name is drawn out, the more unanswerable I know the question will be).

Yes Robyn.

"Where are my socks?"

Probably where you packed them.

"But I didn't pack any."

Well there's your problem.

This weekend was an absolute doozy, however. The unanswerable of all unanswerables.

Lying in a bunk bed in a roomful of grunting, snoring men on the morning of day two of a weekend-long bachelor party, the early beer and brandy farts were broken by the beep of my phone.

The text read, "do you know where my hairdryer is?". I read it once, then again aloud to the sniggering room where across the floor Ashley shook his head and asked, "yes David, where is the hairdryer?"

Looking him straight in the eye, I simply said, I have no answer for that...

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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