This week, Earl from Duke, Pennsylvania writes: Dear Alfredo, over the years my school teachers told me that "the only stupid question is the one you don't ask." Is that really true?
Dear Duke of Earl,
Let me first thank you for asking me a question that is not directly related to Cuba. As a man whose blood is made of espresso, who sweats sugar cane, and whose heart beats to the rhythm of merengue, it is hard sometimes not to discuss the wisdom imparted to me via the Pearl of the Antilles. So, today I will focus only on your less interesting question.
It turns out Earl that there is, in fact, such thing as a stupid question. Here is the definition:
A stupid question is the one you ask...that turns out...to be stupid!
As a veteran columnist, I have been asked countless questions and the "stupid question" issue is a source of great humor at the columnists’ conventions that I attend with the likes of Dear Ann, Dear Abby, and others. (One of them died, but they were twins and it's so hard to tell twins apart, so I just call the remaining one “Dear…” and I get by ok)
I tell them "Dear, why do you bother answering stupid questions like 'my mother-in-law always brings me hostess gifts that are never as valuable as the hostess gifts that I bring her, and mine are always wrapped in nicer paper…should I divorce her son over this?'"
Then Ann (or Abby?) starts to answer, but I don’t really care what they have to say and I wander off to see if I can find that guy Uncle Matty who writes the dog training column and has a show on PBS. I want to tell him that since Cesar Milan came on the scene with The Dog Whisperer, Matty looks like Betsy Ross trying to show Isaac Singer how to run a sewing machine. (I was going to say he looks like Betsy Ross trying to show a 10-year-old Pakistani boy how to sew a soccer ball, but that would be crude and insensitive)
My point is that we have too much tolerance for stupidity.
When my former governor Jeb Bush debated game show host Bob Barker over the merits of animal neutering…(note this reference does not even meet Wikipedia’s lowest guidelines for credible citation)...Shut up! This is totally true. Don’t put little ( ) after what I say!
Anyway, Bob asked a stupid question and Jeb, who is fluent in Spanish and very near to the hearts of Cuban Americans, used the question as what is known as a "learning opportunity" to make a point. He threw his glass of water in Bob Barker’s face and said (in Spanish), "Roberto, THAT is a stupid question! If you ask that again I SWEAR I will walk over there and make you wish you hadn't!"
It was later admitted by Pat Sajak in his autobiography, "How Do I Still Have A Job?", that the debate was the beginning of the end of Bob’s career. It also marked the end of political debaters being given glasses of water at their podiums. If you notice, today’s debaters are given small plastic bottles at room temperature so the condensation doesn’t form on the sides and spill down the front of their suit while they speak. Ha! You didn’t know that, did you?
So Duke, there you have it. There is such thing as a stupid question. You may wonder whether I am gifted with this vast knowledge because of my years of strenuous studies and advanced university education, or simply because my Cuban ancestry entitles me to speak boldly on many subjects on which I am innately qualified to answer simply because my DNA has empowered me to do so.
In summary, don’t ask stupid questions.
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