One of the most valuable lessons I learned growing up was that you should never ask a question if you don’t really want to know the answer.
There are two ways you can take that lesson, and both of them are important things to consider before asking anyone anything.
On the one hand, there are times when you already know the answer and having it confirmed will do you no good. Sometimes a little ambiguity is all you need to preserve the peace and allow everyone involved to look the other way while important, necessary, enjoyable or irrelevant but somehow forbidden things go on. You don’t need to know. Don’t ask. No good will come of asking.
On the other hand, there are times when you really don’t know the answer but a little forethought will tell you that none of the possibilities are going to make your world easier, more profitable, more enjoyable or more peaceful. If you can’t imagine an answer that will be at all comforting or provide you with information that is in any way useful, you may want to rethink your strategy, question-asking-wise.
But it’s often hard to know those questions in advance. They sneak up on you, and they’re out of your mouth and into the air before you realize. You’ll know them when they pop out – they’re generally followed by a brief “what do we do now?” kind of pause in the short run, interludes of crisis in the medium run, and lingering regret in the long run – but by then it’s too late.
So here are a few questions you should probably plan on not asking, so you can recognize them in advance and in fact avoid asking them.
1. That theory you have about your favorite sports team being cursed, how does that go again?
2. Why do you use so many multiple exclamation points and capital letters when you write?
3. So, how did you come to be a Ron Paul supporter?
4. I tried calling you late last night – where were you?
5. I’m going to hell? Now what makes you say that?
6. You wrote that down?
7. How many volunteers do you need?
8. That new dish was really tasty. What’s in it?
9. What’s this camera doing in your bedroom?
10. How much did that cost?
11. What do you think you’re doing?
12. Why isn’t all that scientifically proven evidence good enough for you?
There are a whole lot more of these questions, but even thinking about them is enough to drive a body to drink and it is just too early in the day for that. It may be five o’clock somewhere, but not here.