Why. It’s one of the “Five Ws” of journalism. You know, the Who, What, When, Where, Why (and sometimes How the Heck?). It’s also central to the general curiosity of we humans valiantly trying to figure out things during this challenging journey we call ‘life’. “Why” is certainly part of muddling our way through this confusing, uplifting, scary and downright strange life of existential angst and inspiring discovery. And if you’re a person with a particularly curious bent (or if you’re just plain bent) I’m sure you invariably find that there are many more questions than answers.
Questions like: Can you cry underwater? Or: what disease did cured ham actually have? And, how is it we put a man on the moon before we figured out it’s a good idea to put wheels on luggage?
I’ve been wondering about these kinds of things a lot lately. You see, my cousin in Vancouver, a retired tax auditor with a sense of humor (an oxymoron, I know) is one of those people we used to call a “brainiac”, and he regularly sends me emails with all kinds of interesting things within. Like, exactly what the weather is like right now on the Orkney Islands or a detailed essay (with photos) on the history of the saxophone.
Recently, it was a list of Why Questions. The kind of list that makes you scratch your head, shake your head or slam your head with the palm of your hand. The best kind of list!
Why is it that somebody is IN a movie, but ON TV? Why is “bra” singular and “panties” plural? And haven’t you ever wondered, if corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?
Here’s another burning question I’m sure keeps you up at night: If the professor on Gilligan’s Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can’t he fix a hole in a boat? Also, why is it that when you blow in a dog’s face he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window? And, really, how did the person who made the very first clock know exactly what time it was?
And next time you’re in for your rather uncomfortable full physical checkup, you might ask yourself: Why do doctors leave the room while you change when they’re going to see you naked anyway? And while in there you may wonder why you should eat a lot of natural foods when most people die of natural causes. Right?
My cousin’s list, no doubt gathered from various important websites featuring very important information included the question: How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered? And if you have an opinion on that (or anything else) why is it that you are asked for “a penny for your thoughts” and you give your “two cents worth”? So what happened to the other penny? (Taxes.)
But not every ‘why’ question is a matter of trivial semantics. Case in point: if electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons? (The answer is, yes, it often does. The proof comes from a former U.S. president.)
Hey, why do the Alphabet Song and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star have the same melody? And why are you singing it right now?
And finally, I’ll leave you with perhaps one of the most profound conundrums on the list. Why do peanuts float in regular Coke and sink in Diet Coke? I’ll sign off now, because I’m pretty sure you’re headed to your kitchen.
Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. You can email him column ideas to email@example.com.