Wednesday, March 29, 2006

You learn something new everyday...

Imagine if you will:

You've wandered into a private tea party, the kind of which you have never experienced before. You figure you must be early, because most of the seats are empty. The only two guests currently there are rather eccentric, so you sit quietly and watch with growing curiosity and amusement as they sing and dance and enjoy their tea and bread and jam.

It isn't long before they notice you, and at first you are afraid they will hurt you for barging in on their private party. But you soon feel welcome, in fact, you feel more as if you had been expected to tell the truth... They sit you down between them and ask you the usual questions one is asked at a tea party. How do you take your tea? Milk? Sugar? They offer you bread with butter and jam. But, as you begin to settle into the party, ready to sip your tea and enjoy some interesting conversation from your new-found friends, you realize that this is no ordinary tea party. You are never actually able to get a sip of tea as they continue to move themselves (and you between them) down the table to different chairs. A half-glass of tea is served by cutting a tea cup in half vertically and tea poured into one half (how it doesn't fall out, you're not entirely sure...). And the conversation is on the most odd and random of topics, that you have a hard time keeping up!

As you muse distractedly on these observations, you are startled out of your thoughts by one of your "hosts" (for lack of a better term, being that you are not sure who the hosts of the party are, but no one else has yet shown up for this party) asking you a particularly random question.

"How is a raven like a writing desk?"

You decide this must be a riddle, and you absolutely adore riddles. So you repeat it to yourself a few times to let the question sink into your head. Meanwhile, you are vaguely aware of the fact that your "hosts" seem to have moved on to a completely different topic without waiting for you to give an answer or giving you the answer to the riddle. A little odd, a little annoying, but still, you are determined to find the answer to this riddle!

You repeat the question again, muttering it aloud to yourself in hopes of hearing it a bit differently if you voice the words. And suddenly, your "hosts" stop in mid-discussion and look at you as if they've seen a ghost. They start trembling and stuttering and screaming that you've gone mad. Then, they kick you out of the party! The nerve! They were the ones that originally asked you that question, so if anyone is mad, it is most certainly them, not you.

As you walk away, you hear them once again fall into their merry little song, drinking tea and switching chairs, apparently oblivious to the fact that they are the only people at a table set for a party of at least 20. And you realize that you never did find out the answer to that riddle, or question, or whatever it was.

[So, if you haven't yet figured out that I am describing a scene from Alice in Wonderland in second person, then you need to freshen up on your Disney movies.]

Why? Well, I came upon the answer to the riddle online today, and I was always one of those children who watched that movie and was left feeling just a bit empty because I wanted to know the answer to the riddle. It didn't stop me from enjoying the movie again and again, but it always made me mad that the riddle was left unsolved!

So, again, the question:

How is a raven like a writing desk?

And the answer?

Poe wrote on both.

It's just so satisfying. A childhood weight has suddenly been lifted. I feel so enlightened! Or simply just that much more in the know. [Which was probably the real issue. I have always hated not knowing something. The answer to a question or a problem. A secret known by others but not by me. Whatever it was, if I knew I was out of the know, I hated it. And so, I am now in the know for one more thing. Ah, the satisfaction of knowledge...however great or small it is!]

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