Back in August of this year I listened from directly behind the child while we sat sweltering in the commercial jet on the Phoenix taxiway while waiting to be air and Texas bound. “What-do-you-get-when-you-cross-a-tiger-and-a-snowman?” the animated youngster asked her patient mom again.
The engines finally roared, creeping us down the taxiway and burying the answer I knew would leave the mother as well as yours truly completely stumped.
Like that kid in front of me, I always did appreciate a good riddle. I don’t know why I’ve always struggled to remember them. As we taxied up to the flight line about the same speed as a desert tortoise the freckled face kid kept up her steady riddle reading.
“Ah-hah!” I thought to myself. I finally know one of the riddles. The red covered book that belonged to my aunt Norma Jean, the one that I must have read a thousand times, popped into my mind like a Jack-in-the-box clown. “Jimmy wanted to see time fly,” I said to myself in silence. I confess I was slightly proud of myself for having finally known one of the answers to the riddles I’d been forced to listen to.
I thought about that book, the cover; a cartoon picture of a young boy holding onto a door handle with a red, white, and blue spinning cylinder just adjacent to the door.
The riddle read; “When is a boy not a boy?” A flip of the cover revealed the same thin and yellow haired kid’s backside. The punchline just below read, “When he turns into a barber shop.” I grasped the play on words, but never cared for that one… probably the only reason I still remember it.
I still appreciate a good riddle and am almost always stumped when presented with one. This life is filled with things we can’t explain, mysteries beyond comprehension, but we have the incredible gift as humans that sets us apart from animals with merely instinct.
We call it free will. The lost world refers to it as enlightenment. We choose to believe eyewitness accounts recorded from history. The lost choose speculation and theories from their contemporaries that change with every generation.
The freckle-faced girl tossed out another riddle, but this time it didn’t sound like the choppy reading I’d become accustomed to, “Who was the Man not born of Man?”
“Did I hear her right?” I thought to myself.
“Jesus!” she exclaimed without reading.
The grandest riddle of all, “The mysteries of the universe” have been revealed to that little girl.
“Good one,” I thought to myself as the jet lifted toward the heavens… along with my soul.