Go Ask Daddy About Space Ships, Marine Arthropods and Carbonated Cleanups

photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc
photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc

Ever since I was a boy, the “what if” questions got me thinking.

Especially if thinking got me out of chores or homework. So when Amanda at the Miss Zippy blog postulated this week with “what if everyone ran?” it got me thinking. And avoiding chores.

What if everyone in the world decided to become runners? What if you had to wait in line at the greenway or the treadmill? What if you couldn’t swing a skinny trail runner without hitting fierce mama and her bobbing ponytail? Would we all be fit?

Would we all have shin splints?

Would the wait at Little Caesar’s for hot-and-ready pizzas decrease?

I’m glad not everyone runs. Because if we did, I couldn’t embark on the couch to 5K again this summer to prep for a fall 5K. If we did, there’d be fewer comeback stories. I love comeback stories. And underdogs. I love underdogs.

If everyone runs, we’ll lose a good percentage of our underdogs.

And underdogs are heroes to me. This kid, for instance.

Speaking of heroes … here’s what my girls were askin’.

1. Are UFOs real?

photo credit: pasukaru76 via photopin cc
photo credit: pasukaru76 via photopin cc

What if …

everyone believed in UFOs?

I do. You know the story.

As part of the No Sleep Club on a company trip two years ago, I vowed to stay awake to see the sun rise on our last night in the Dominican Republic. Only three of us went the distance in this branch of the NSC.

Between the three of us … there wasn’t all that much rum in our blood. A couple of hours before sunrise, E.T. paid a visit.

Five rhombus-shaped lights appeared above the palm trees – three on top, two on bottom. They were steel blue. The rows switched place six times, and zipped out of sight. All told, my close encounter lasted 4 seconds.

It took us all longer to utter “what the @#$! Was that??” in unison.

I don’t know what we saw that night. But it was something.

2. Why are the Carolina Panthers not the Charlotte Panthers?

photo credit: noahwood via photopin cc
photo credit: noahwood via photopin cc

The Carolina Panthers are kind of like your ol’ dad, all over the two states.

I live in North Carolina. I work in South Carolina. The Panthers play home games in North Carolina. They have training camp in South Carolina. They also played their first season in Clemson, S.C., at Death Valley. Your dad’s first writing assignment out of college at UNC Charlotte was to cover those games.

My favorite Panthers player of all time? Quarterback Jake Delhomme (right).

Charlotte’s right in the middle of the Carolinas, and the shape of the Panthers’ head is roughly the same outline as the two Carolinas. It also kind of looks like a slice of cake. Or maybe I’m just ready for dessert.

3. How big is a horseshoe crab?

photo credit: spakattacks via photopin cc
photo credit: spakattacks via photopin cc

Bigger than a Panther-sized slice of cake.

Horseshoe crabs are at least 300 million years old. Way older than me. They measure 7-12 inches across their back. Boys are about 2 pounds, and girls are 5. They’re a little sensitive to that, so be careful.

Like dads, horseshoe crabs will eat just about anything.

Horseshoe crabs are closer related to spiders and scorpions than crabs, and have 10 extra eyes that help them see UV light.

What if everyone could see UV light?

4. Does soda stain?

photo credit: Chris Blakeley via photopin cc
photo credit: Chris Blakeley via photopin cc

This is the sort of question a kid will ask only after they’ve spilled soda.

You did, didn’t you?

It could be worse.

Here are 10 questions you could have asked that could have been worse.

10. What happens if you hang up after dialing 911?

9. How long can a cat stay underwater?

8. How long can a sister stay underwater?

7. How many years of bad luck for breaking a mirror?

6. How about two mirrors and a TV screen?

5. Where’s the plunger?

4. Do we have flood insurance?

3. Will chocolate chips dissolve in the fish tank?

2. How long can a Wii controller stay underwater?

1. How about in a pitcher of Kool-aid, with a cat?

Oh, to answer your question: No, it doesn’t. If you lick it up right away.

5. Does the minus mean the battery goes in facing down?

photo credit: scalespeeder via photopin cc
photo credit: scalespeeder via photopin cc

Like, the minus inside the device?

If you see the minus inside the device, you stick the battery in bottom first. That’s the negative contact. It’s usually the one with the spring. And the other side, the nipple side? That goes where the plus is. Sometimes, it’s a metal flap. Confused? Look for that hard-to-see battery diagram inside the device.

Or just switch it around and shove it in the other way if it doesn’t work.

After you pull it out of the Kool-aid, of course.


  1. Loved the ad. then I started watching more videos. Nightmares are made up of horseshoe crabs slithering over you, munching and crunching away. Doesn’t bear thinking about. UFO’s? there are a few stories there Eli, one day.

    1. Have you blogged about it? Because it feels like I’ve come out in a way to have written about it. I saw something. I have no idea what the hell it was. But the sky has never been the same to me since.

      1. Not yet Eli but it will come in the current Medium blog. There are too many sightings of strange things and they’ve been going on for centuries. Everything around us can change for brief moments. My belief is one that incorporates different dimensions.

  2. Some of these questions! Oh, I can’t help but laugh out loud! I get some whoppers too and I’m thinking maybe I could just refer them to you since you do such an awesome job. Where’s the plunger? and Do we have flood insurance?…eek!

    1. You should see the list, Sandy. I am set until the year 2017. Maybe I should outsource the Go Ask Daddy feature, and field questions for other people’s kids in a guest post.

      When they asked about soda stains, I thought, it really could be worse … plungers, flood insurance, submerged electronics …

      Thanks Sandy!

    1. Thanks Nicole! Maybe we’ll have to bulldoze a Burger King or two to make more room for runners. Or maybe they can make separate trails for plodders like me so we don’t clog up the works for flyers like you.

      1. What did he/she know anyway? Those of us who read your posts beg to differ. Write on!!

  3. Wow–there’s a lot going on in that brain of yours! I’m glad I could help kickstart some thinking…thank you for the shoutout!

  4. Ah, the plunger one! Not cool. My kids are too young to effectively use a plunger, but I worked as an Innkeeper in an urban B&B in SF. So many of my clients would ask me to help them. And needed plungers. And I am a great plunger-user. It’s on my resume.
    I once thought I saw a UFO because the whole sky was lit up on a late night drive home, but it was just a truck with his brights on.

    1. As if they’d ever ask me about the plunger … they’d just ignore it and hope it goes away. The right elbow motion is key, isn’t that right, Tamara?

      Did the sky look like that scene in Close Encounter of the Third Kind? (Now that’s old-school).

  5. Ah…”Where’s the plunger?” That question you never want to hear bright and early on a Saturday morning!! PS If You’re really worried about everyone becoming a runner, don’t be. I won’t!

    1. I never want to hear it, ever. That was my least favorite job when I worked the hotel front desk on weekends, with no maintenance manager.

      Did you know there’s an electronic super plunger on the market? I never saw it in action, but I’d see the guy at the Hampton Inn take it to a room and I knew he meant business.

      See you at Little Caesar’s, then!

  6. Here’s how little attention I pay to commercials – I watched hours of Olympic coverage and somehow never saw that commercial. I enjoyed watching it now and listening to the interview – like you said, ‘Hooray for the underdog!”
    Fun questions today – my favorite was the list of things you never want to hear your kids ask!!

    1. This commercial was from a couple of years ago, and it was a bit controversial. I found it nothing but inspirational. I think there are probably 77 more questions you never want to hear your kids ask, don’t you think, Kim?

  7. Love ET! And we can certainly all find our greatness! We just have to allow ourselves to see it!

    I can tell you from my bad day at the mall (if my life was a musical.. that day) that Coke Zero doesn’t leave stains in jeans. Hope that helps.

    Thanks for the heads up on batteries. I am confused every time and usually go for the “shove it in the other way” approach.

    5 pound horseshoe crab girls? That’s OK. It’s obvious how the visible beauty has been distributed in nature. In animal kingdom it’s the boys. As for the humans – well..!

    1. I so wanted to be the real-life Elliott after that movie. More than I wanted to be an NFL quarterback or Woody Woodpecker.

      Interesting to know Coke Zero doesn’t stain. It’ll burn the crud off a car battery, but it’ll leave a pair of Levi’s as they were.

      The “shove it the other way” approach works for lots of things, including luggage, house keys and kitchen drawers with 37 spatulas.

      It just makes you wonder what horseshoe crab cat calls sound like (“I got your 3-pound deficit right here, honey!”, or how female horseshoe crabs put each other down (“Crab, please – until you can til the scale at least at 4 pounds, you can talk to the claw.”

  8. I have heard similar questions from the backseat of my car. Things like “What happens if milk gets in the speakers?” Kind of questions that fill me with dread and visions if the car stinking like cheap cheese for years.

    1. At least they ask, and aren’t leaving stuff there to rot (I guess?) I blame the kidlet hijinx of Disney shows, too, where you can flood the kitchen with soap suds and the only thing that happens is a roaring laugh track.

  9. How about “Is a phone ruined when it’s dropped in a toilet?” That’s one question I never want to answer again. And your post reminded me that we need a new plunger.

  10. Great post. It feels so boring and lonely when children are grown up and have nothing to ask. Good observation about soda spill question.

    1. Thanks Indira! I hope my girls always ask – just today, my 16-year-old asked a good one as we got ready for school. Google might have the facts, but there’s no substitute for life experience when it comes to spilled soda.

  11. always wondered about the panthers, thanks for helping me cross that off my list. and my advice is just don’t lick the koolaid off of the batteries after you’ve pulled them out.

    1. well, you know – it’s not a mystery like, the utah jazz and los angeles lakers, but …

      i think that’s how you check a battery to see if it’s fully charged, isn’t it? i’d advise doing that only once in a two-week period.

  12. Sorry for the absence my friend! Between dodgie hospital wifi and all the fun with kids on spring break – I’ve been scarce the past 2 weeks. (actually, my mommy wouldn’t let me play on the computer when I was visiting her. ha)
    My favourite “oh crap” moment came as I was just pushing Start on the laundry machine after our beach vacation, and my middle daughter asked “mom!! where are the shells, rocks and bottle caps I had in my pockets from collecting them on the beach!!?”
    In case you were wondering, shells, rocks and bottlecaps sound really cool in a big front loader.
    It also lights up like a UFO.

    1. Glad to have you back! Sometimes we have to take time out for life, don’t we, mom? How’s mom, by the way?

      I really wish I had video of your front-loader. I think kids do things to give us blog fodder.

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