May 28, 2008 question

Awesome is pink, y’all. Helloooo. It’s totally dusty pink. Get with it. Nobody knew that, and it totally bums me out. To sum up: sarcasm.

Now it’s time for great moments in social translation. Today’s great moment comes from 1982 when a man named Scott Brubaker did a favor for his neighbor. He told her he’d be willing to babysit her seven children, all of them under the age of 5, while she left to run some errands. She then asked the immortal question, “Are you sure?” to which the answer returned, as it invariably does throughout the course of human events, “Yes.” But only a few moments later, as the last trace of the station wagon exhaust cloud dissipated from his front yard, Scott made two crucial breakthroughs in social translation. First, he realized that “run some errands” most likely meant “do everything I possibly can to avoid returning home.” He then discovered that “are you sure” is just a polite way of saying, “I realize you’re lying, but here’s one more superficial opportunity to tell the truth.”

In the world of asking favors, “Are you sure?” has come to be the perfect way to feign inner conflict over the decision to let someone else help you, lend you money, or allow you to eat the last cookie without splitting it. Only a handful of people in the last millennium have responded to “Are you sure?” with anything other than “Yes,” “I’m sure,” “Of course,” or the like. You just don’t hear, “On second thought, I would like that donut,” or “Well, not 100% sure. Can I sleep on it, and if I still feel good about it, then you can borrow my lawn mower.” So why ask? Because despite the universal desire to take advantage of people, no one wants to appear like they’re taking advantage of people. “Are you sure” somehow functions as proof positive that the recipient of a favor regrets the act of kindness but reluctantly accepts it.

Don’t worry, citizens of trivia land, I won’t ask you to stop taking advantage of each other. Nor will I ask that you stop pretending not to or that you finally respond to being AYSed by blurting out, “No, I’m not sure, and don’t pretend to care!” Keep up the charade. Charades are fun. Here’s today’s question:

According to the rules of th 1985 board game, “Charades,” the history of Charades dates back to what country in what century? (e.g. 6th century Egypt) (hint: neither the 6th century nor Egypt is a correct answer)

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