Monday, February 4, 2008

Guess where the snow ended up?

I was reading writing advice a little while back that said something about (I'm paraphrasing here) one of the best introductions to short pieces, like blog entries or short articles, was what they called the "irresistible question." I feel my natural tendencies, probably from journalism training, resisting this, and I'm sure in overuse it is pretty horrid. But maybe there's something to it in some forms. My son's favorite poriferan is introduced thus, as are half the news articles I hear. ("Why is Huckabee a thorn in the Republicans' side?" "Why is this local merchant slimier than a snake in the grass?" "Why are local police walking on eggshells?" "Why do newscasters insist upon using tired, ill-fitting clich├ęs?")

I'm not sure about employing it myself. But I do know my son already seems to be an expert at this technique. He leads off with questions more often than not, and they tend to be irresistible, if not always in a good way and if only because of the connotation.

An example:

On the way home from school: "Guess what happened to Reginald today in the cafeteria?"
Me (pretty sure I didn't want to know what happened to Reginald in the cafeteria today): "What?"
Him: "Reginald must have been hungry, because he ate a lot, I mean a LOT, and then he looked real funny, and then he made a face like this (the rear view mirror revealed a crumpled chin, twisted lips and squeezed shut eyes) and he threw up! All over the place! And it made a splashing sound like this (you don't really want me to describe it, do you?) and it splashed all over!"

Or, following the seemingly innocuous intro question, "Guess what?" at the restauruant with my in-laws yesterday: "Hey. Hey! Hey, guess what? I threw snow at Mom, and she was bent over, and it went in her shirt, and" (here the restaurant went preternaturally quiet as his voice rises to a shout) "AND it went in her BRA!" (Uncontrollable giggling ensued.)

Even if his question is a request for information, he's as likely to contribute to the ensuing conversation as anyone. Which can make for interesting conversation.

Some other "irresistible questions":

"What happens if I spill a lot of something on the couch?"
"Why is the cat putting his ears back at me?"
"Can I get something out if I stick it in the keyboard?"
"If I tell the truth, will you be mad?"
"Why can't I lick that?"
"If I need to wipe up a whole lot of something, where are the towels?"
"What's the difference between feeling like you need to cough and feeling like you need to throw up?"


heather said... Best Blogger Tips

I wish, wish, wish, I could experience David in person. Because it's sooooo much funnier when it's someone else's little boy doing those "darling" things.

You really do have a talent for making me laugh. You're starting to remind me of Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum novels). You're realistic and funny (and I happen to like the parentheses, I use them myself all the time).