Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Puzzle For Adults Who Want to Play

I've been watching our three cats watch the new kitten play, and noticing how seldom they join in, even now that they've been adequately reassured about their place in the universe of our house.

It's mid-February, the time of year when I can't think of anything fun to do. I used to have an annual tea and poetry reading, but the friends who live near enough to come are currently much too busy and important to spend time doing anything that's not absolutely necessary. This is how kids often feel, I realize. They look at adults and wonder why we stand facing each other with our arms folded over our chests.

But my valentine sympathizes about how boring it is to act adult all the time--he got me the most wonderful valentine's day present to help me through the middle of February--it's a big red book entitled The Encyclopedia of Immaturity, and it has pages and pages of fun stuff to do. There are even things in there especially for parents who can't think of fun stuff, like "How to Do the Deadly Selfnap" (pull your head back by the hair and scream as you back out your kid's bedroom door after saying good night). There are practical things for kids who never had neighborhood friends teach them to do dangerous stuff, like "How to Do a Wheelie," and variations on how to make someone jinx ("In the morning when the teacher is calling roll, get ready to pounce. When your victim's name is called, holler "here" right when they do and then go straight to the jinx.")

Here's a puzzle from the book. The directions are to "Give the paragraph below to anyone who needs something to do with their brain for awhile. Its trick is obvious to those who know, but quite opaque to those who don't."

How quickly can you find out what is unusual about this paragraph? It looks so ordinary that you would think that nothing was wrong with it at all; and in fact, nothing is. But it is unusual. Why? If you study it and think about it you may find out, but I am not going to assist you in any way. You must do it without coaching. No doubt if you work at it for long, it will dawn on you. I don't know. Now, go to work and try your luck.

Okay, readers, can you figure it out? If you can't and you beg hard enough, I'll post the answer in the comments.

6 comments:

Ron Griggs said...

I got it right away, but in my situation it is based on prior training. If you like that paragraph, I suggest A Void, a novel by Georges Perec.

Sarah said...

I think I figured it out, but I'm not sure I should post my suspicions until everyone has had a go at deciphering it. I WILL say that my response does not share the paragraph's strangeness, though, if I am right in my guess.

paj said...

Thanks for helping me feel the least bit bright on a miserable winter day. I got this immediately.

Alison said...

Got it pretty quickly, although I think I may have seen this before...

readersguide said...

Got it!

Jeanne said...

All my readers are smart--everyone got that the paragraph has no letter e in it.