Five For Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Tall Motorists, Candy Shells and Digestive Physics of Two-Headed Sea Serpents

2012: A Year of Learning.

How else to label a 12-month span of kids questions, duly Googled and answered for those in the blogosphere?

You learned along with us. About Otis Redding. About reproductive science. About what’s really in your eyelids.

About the American consumer poultry industry.

So, in a way, this Friday feature has gone from a weekly laugh to a very serious public service.

“Ask not what your country can do for you,” John F. Kennedy famously asked of Americans, “but what you can do for your country.”

Sir, I’m at your service.

1. What do people with long necks do? Or people who are really tall?

Grace asked this as we watched the latest ultra-mini compact hood-ornament-to-tail-pipe-no-bigger-than-a-large-pizza-box automobile chugging down the road.

Consumer reports actually publishes a list of cars for the tall and short (and no, I don’t know where my Pontiac Grand-Am falls in the scale. It’s perfect for me). MSN autos has a list of cars fit for the basketball tall in this world – the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Corvette (surprisingly enough) and the Dodge Avenger get high marks for their abundance of head and leg room.

None are easy on the wallet off the lot, or at the fuel pump, which makes me even more elated to be of compact stature myself.

2. Why do people who smoke hang out outside stores and restaurants?

You girls were born after the advent of such life necessities as drive-thrus that accept debit cards, car phones that weigh less than 10 pounds and stuffed toys that talk when you squeeze their hands.

You also just missed the era of the smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants. Where you’d ask for non-smoking, and some bloke in the next booth would light up. Or the place had a half wall between smoking and non, which maintained an effectiveness about as good as labor laws that give Walmart workers 15-minute breaks.

They stand outside stores and restaurants to smoke, right by the door, so that the suction physics of automatic doors can woosh the smoke right back in to us non-smokers and efficiently deliver the second-hand smoke to our lungs that the pesky smoking bans denied us of before.

3. What is M&M candy coating made of?

Did you hear the rumor that it was made of secretions from the lac beetle? Totally untrue. I think they’re used on Skittles, though.

You can thank part of your widespread heritage for M&M’s candy coating, girls: Soldiers in the Spanish Civil War were said to use sugar coating to keep their chocolate bits from melting in their pockets in the heat of battle. The motto back then was “melts in your mouth, not in your hands – or from gunfire, sniper fire or grenade-generated explosions.”

The coating today is made of sugar and corn syrup. And in the case of the sultry green M&M, a goodly dose of je ne sais quoi.

4. Do they make French fries with ketchup in them already?

Inventive minds or unprecedented laziness – which spurs this question?

No matter. Mankind has combined things for convenience for centuries. Stagecoaches with GPS. Cell phones with cameras. Eating fried chicken and watching auto racing. But this, this could be evolutionary. Imagine not slopping on yourself while trying to dip a fry when you’re driving. Or the energy you’d save from not having to dip in the first place.

Dangit. Looks like they beat us to it with US patent number US7867536.

We’re late again, Elise. I should have done something 10 years ago when you drew that picture of the cell phone with the glass face and “buttons” for listening to music, writing email and taking pictures.

5. Where does the poop come out?

Once in a while, a question goes unanswered.

Not often. In fact, this might be the first.

The question pertains to the two-headed sea serpent that pursues the kids in Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams. The behemoth rises menacingly out of the sea, two nasty, hungry heads working in unison to nab a kid-sized snack right there outside the Island of Lost Dreams.

Grace and I could have had a thought bubble rise between us with this arcane musing.

A South Carolina family allegedly found a two-headed snake in September. Perhaps this specimen is a descendant of the Spy Kids beast. They’re formed like Siamese twins, although usually two heads appear on one end, not one on each end.

I know, I know. This doesn’t answer the question, does it?

Thing is, on Google, NO ONE seems to realize the importance of this mystery. Not even the Fox News reporter who saw the South Carolina two-headed snake first-hand.

Conventional serpents have a small slit through which they excrete waste. This slit is usually located near the tail. Which is a problem when there IS NO TAIL.

Geez. It’s no tall tale, and there’s no way to really candy-coat the idea that the slits might end up right under the mouth of each of the serpent’s heads, which would explain the testy disposition of such a creature. But to avoid an open-ended answer, and to deflect some of the politician jokes that are sure to accompany such a conclusion as words and waste coming from the same general vicinity, I’m going to say the beast’s poop comes out right smack dab in the middle.

And look at it this way, kids. This monster could have one head outside smoking, while the other stays inside in relative warmth.

Where he can get all the second-hand smoke he wants.