Why do people feel the need to ask so many questions?

   There.  You see? 

   I just asked a question--two, actually--and I could probably have done just as well if I’d started with a statement (or two) instead.

   Most people can answer their own questions if they just think a little before they ask them, and that goes double for wives who ask their husbands which dress they should wear, whenever.

   Some questions shouldn’t even be asked.

   “What time is it?” isn’t a bad question. 

   But “Do you know what time it is?” isn’t a good question at all.

   One possible answer is, “Yes,” and then what? 

   It all becomes terribly awkward.

   My father used to ask a lot of questions, like, “Why am I always running out of clean underwear?” and “Who left this chocolate bar under the couch cushion?” and “Why is someone always in the shower when I have to go so bad I’m about to pee in my pants?”

   At least one of those is a “rhetorical question.” 

   A rhetorical question is a question that doesn’t really require an answer, which sounds to me like it isn’t a question in the first place. 

   I think they should call it a rhetorical statement, but they don’t.

   A tidal pool is a pool of water that remains after the tide has retreated.

   You’d think they’d call it a “post-tidal pool,” but they don’t.

    There are a lot of contradictions in the world and maybe that’s why there are so many questions.

   “Time and tide wait for no man” is accepted wisdom that actually predates the English language.

   Then Alexander Pope wrote “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” at the start of the 18th century.

   How do we know which one to follow? 

   Why did Pope feel he had to confuse the issue in the first place?

   Whatever happened to “leave well enough alone”?

   That’s not a rhetorical question.  I’d actually like to know.

   My mother used to ask questions and deny she asked them. 

   She once said to my father, “I wonder if you’re going to fix the leak in the kitchen sink before my parents come to visit.”

   My father answered, “Stop asking me when I’m going to get it done.  I’ll do it as soon as I can.”

   “I’m not asking,” mother said, “I’m just speculating.”

   People seem to feel that just because someone asks a question, they’re required to give an answer.

   Answers are one of life’s mysteries to me. 

   It’s hard to tell whether an answer is a good one or a bad one, and you usually never know until sometime later, if ever.

   Sometimes people give opinions or guesses as if they’re actually answers, and that shouldn’t happen.

   “And I, I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference,” wrote Robert Frost.

   He has no proof. 

   Everything might have turned out the same either way.

   To make matters worse, the implication is that his life turned out better because of the choice he made, but how the heck could he ever know?

   Instead of “The Road Not Taken” it should have been “The Poem Not Written.”

   I usually don’t have an answer, and I try not to pretend that I do. 

   Who’s the greatest baseball player of all time? 

   I don’t really know. 

   I don’t think anyone else does, either.

   And I refuse to speculate.

   People will ask, “What if someone put a gun to your head and said ‘give me an answer or I’ll shoot’?  Then what would you say?”

   Contrary to apparently popular misconception, having a gun put to one’s head does not actually impart new knowledge to one’s brain, although I imagine under the right circumstances it might seem that it does.

   Most of the time, the best answer to any question is “I don’t know” because most people don’t know, but they generally give answers anyway. 

   Why?  I don’t know.

   Think of all the time you could save, not to mention trouble, if you just said “I don’t know” more often, instead of pretending that you do know an answer when you really don’t. 

   Suppose someone asks, “What time is it?”

   “It’s five o’clock” is an answer. 

   “I think it’s close to five” is a guess, and not only isn’t a useful reply in most cases, it could be devastatingly misleading, if, for example, one is tracking the arrival of a spouse in questionable circumstances. 

   “It’s time to stop writing about questions and answers and go make a martini” is an opinion, and is of no use whatsoever, except that it happens to be my opinion right now, and is exactly what I’m going to do.


Dear Major Ashpole,

   You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

   How’s that for an answer?

Bob Dylan

Former Youth Sports Coach

Dear Major Ashpole,

   I would like to ask a rhetorical question.

   Please send one as soon as you can.

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona)

At One Of My Wife’s Houses,

But I Can Never Remember Which One Is Which, Or Maybe I’m In The Senate Caucus Room, Everything Has So Much Ornate Wood, It’s Just Confusing

Dear Major Ashpole,

   People ask questions because they thirst for knowledge, which is a primal state of the human condition, as they seek their own answers instead of relying on others to dictate the truth to them.

   Is knowledge a bad thing?

   Is it really wrong to question?

Pope Benedict XVI

Still The Effing Boss, But Pretending I’m Not, Because It Makes It Seem Like I’m Not Really A Doctrinaire Autocrat, Even Though I Am, and Bill Donohue Thought It Would Be A Good Image To Project

P.S. Alexander Pope wasn’t a real pope like me, just in case you were wondering.

Dear Pope Benedict,

   I guess refreshing candor just isn’t your thing, but thanks for trying.

   In answer to your questions:

   I don’t know.

Dear Major Ashpole,

   Is “the road less traveled by” the Taconic State Parkway above I-84 or the Hutch above I-287?  Or doesn’t that become the Merritt Parkway, anyway?

   I don’t think it really matters, because they both get backed up at rush hour, and if it rains, forget it!

  Like you said: You never know.

  I guess all you can do is flip a coin and hope for the best (and you don’t have to write a poem about it, either, just get in the darn car and drive!).

Rusty Mercator

Director, Critical Navigation Planning

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Dear Major Ashpole,

   The East River is a tidal pool, not a river.

   They should call it The East Tidal Pool.

   So isn’t it a legitimate question to ask why they don’t?

   And didn’t you once write about tidal pools?

Rocky Mossing

Lake Algae, New Jersey

Dear Rocky,

   I don’t know.

Dear Major Ashpole,

   Everyone knows “The Road Not Taken” is code for “I’m a fag,” as in “I chose Gay Boulevard instead of Main Street,” which is about the same thing as saying “I’m a poet” anyway. 

   That Frost guy was no exception. 

   I don’t care if he was married. 

   A real man doesn’t stand around for an hour saying, “Hmm, now, let me think, which way should I go?” and then write a poem about it.

   There’s a good reason real men don’t stop to ask for directions: they don’t have any doubt about what direction they’re going in, if you get my drift.

Spike Ramjohn

Superintendant of Schools

Provo, Utah

Dear Spike,

   I get your drift.

   Please continue drifting, preferably out to sea, rapidly, and we’ll clean up whatever oil slick you leave behind.

Dear Major Ashpole,

   My mother was also a speculator, but it was in pork bellies, and one time she had to take delivery and we ate bacon every day for a year.

   I don’t know if I’m supposed to write about this.

Sheik Mohammed al-Moayad Al-'Porcini


Dear Major Ashpole,

   Just for the record: I’m not the one who left the chocolate bar under the couch cushion.

Dennis The Menace

Sr. Vice President, Denial of Claims

Allstate Insurance

Dear Major Ashpole,

   It’s too bad Robert Frost didn’t have a GPS, or he could have figured out which road to take, and he would have known exactly where it was going.

   I wouldn’t even begin to think of swimming from Alaska to Russia without my Garmin!

Sarah Palin

Still Protecting America From The Red Menace


contents copyright 2010, 2012

all rights reserved

This website is satire and fiction.

Letters attributed to famous persons were not written by them. 

Letters attributed to unknown persons were not written by them.

Letters attributed to corporations or any other organizations were not written by them.

The entire site is of questionable value and no one should pay any attention anyway.