As children, my sisters and I weren’t allowed to use the word – at least not in the presence of my parents. We were told that “stupid” was a “bad” word and that nice girls didn’t use “bad” words. If my parents heard my sisters or I using “stupid” in a sentence, we’d be punished. This usually meant that extra chores would be assigned to the offender or a privilege would be taken away for a day or two. If they caught us calling one or the other “stupid” then the punishment was even worse. We might not see a favorite toy or be allowed to play outside with our friends for a week or more. Saying “stupid” in any regard was a big No-No in my childhood home and for several years I thought it was a swear word.
My sisters and I were permitted to use the word “dumb” … sparingly. We could say, “that’s a dumb question,” but only as long as it wasn’t in reference to a question my parents had asked. “Dumb” had to pertain to homework or a silly situation. We couldn’t say that he or she was “dumb” – because that was too close a substitute to saying “stupid.” We had to be careful.
I don’t know when I initially realized that “stupid” wasn’t a cuss word, but even then I didn’t use it much. I’d already been programmed not to. My parents never said the word either – at least not until my sisters and I became teenagers and started doing really “stupid” things. At that point, my parents really couldn’t help themselves. “Stupid” flew out of their mouths quite easily. “What are you? Stupid? You skipped school and you didn’t think we’d find out?” Or the famous, “That was really stupid, Marcia!” I heard that a lot in my teenage years – believe me … but I really couldn’t blame my parents for saying the “bad” word … because I really did do some really “stupid” things back then.
Anyway… “Stupid” wasn’t a word that I was allowed to say … and to this day, I still try to refrain from using it as much as possible. Sometimes, however, like my parents, I just can’t help but say it. Sometimes “stupid” is the only word that fits a situation or a question.
I’d like to agree that “there are no stupid questions” – that all questions are worth asking – that if someone really needs to know something that they should ask no matter how stupid the question might seem. It’s how we best learn. And there have been several occasions in my life when I’ve heard someone ask a question that many considered “stupid” – yet I learned something important or valuable from the answer that was given and I felt relieved that at long last someone had been brave enough to ask the stupid question.
There are indeed times though when a “stupid” question is exactly that – a stupid question – and I was reminded of this the other day when I heard a story that my youngest niece Haylei was telling. She works as a clerk at a local drug store and she deals with customers and the public every day. A few days ago, Haylei was cashing a woman out when she noticed that several items the woman was purchasing were on sale that week.
“Do you have our discount card?” asked Haylei.
The woman fumbled for her keys and pulled them out of her purse. On the chain she had several discount cards. Holding them, she paused and looked up at the ceiling … then she looked around at the store … then back at her cards … then up again at the ceiling … and then finally the woman looked back at Haylei. “What store is this?” she asked.
Haylei calmly answered the question and took the entire incident in stride. She says she’s used to it – there’s seldom a week that goes by when one customer or another doesn’t ask this same “stupid” question. Customers get to the register to cash out and suddenly forget where they are.
I don’t know if it’s the way Haylei told the story (she has an excellent sense of humor) or if it’s because of the way I imagined this scene playing out in my head, but whatever it was, the story completely cracked me up with laughter. I can see how this incident could occur all the time if Haylei’s drug store was in a plaza. People often wander in plazas going from one store to another. I can see how they could lose track of which store they’re in. But the drug store where Haylei works is a stand-alone store. There are no other stores beside it or even close to it. Now I know I’m making a few assumptions, but this to me means that the woman had to have driven intentionally to that drug store to purchase the items that she selected and was about to pay for. How did she NOT know where she was? That to me is a “stupid question” …. and that brings me to today (September 30, 2014).
It’s Ask a Stupid Question Day. That’s right. There’s actually an official day for this occasion and I didn’t know it. (Probably because I’d never asked the right stupid question.) Anyway… it’s true … and Days of the Year can prove it:
Today is also Tuesday – which means it’s Tuesday Ten day – which means that Lisa and Rabia (the hosts) know all about Ask a Stupid Question Day. They chose it as our topic today and to participate I must pick 10 Stupid Questions to answer from a list of 1oo that can be found here.
And that’s my “stupid” intro. It’s time to get down to it – so here are the “stupid questions” I chose … along with my stupid answers.