Have You Seen My Glasses? And Other Trick Questions

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The only person who asks more questions than a lawyer is the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. I am not saying that questions are bad, at least not all of them. What I am saying is, some questions can be trick questions.

To know the difference between a legitimate question and a trick question takes years of practicing being a husband. If the husband learns anything in his marriage, it is this.

I know people ask questions in order to get information. Not all people ask a question in order to get information. Some people ask questions in order to trick somebody into saying something that is compromising.

Of course, we all know the old joke about Honest Abe and his wife when she asked him, “Does this dress make me look fat?”

What does a person do in a situation like that? If a person is honest and tells the honest truth, it may not fare too well with him. It is not so much the question being asked as it is the answer that goes along with that question.

It is the smart husband who is an expert in this “answer” scenario. How he answers his wife’s questions will determine the quality of his life. To ignore the question is only going to induce more questions and what husband really wants that?

The art of answering a trick question is the only thing that keeps some people on the positive side of marital bliss. If, for one moment, the husband thinks his wife is simply seeking an answer, he is in for a lot of trouble and heartache.

I certainly would not have liked to have been in Honest Abe’s shoes if he ever was presented with such a question from Mrs. Lincoln. Personally, I would have loved to hear how he dealt with that question, after all he was known as Honest Abe.

This past week I was presented with such a question, it caught me a little bit off guard, and I did not know how to deal with it.

I noticed my wife was walking through the house looking at everything. It made me curious, but I tried to keep out of that situation.

Finally, she came to me and said quite sincerely, “Have you seen my glasses?”

It sounds like a very simple question and it should deserve a straightforward answer. But I did not know what to say. What kind of trouble would I be in if I told her where her glasses were?

I stuttered a little bit, and she being very nervous at the time, turned and started searching the house again. What do you do in situations like this?

I knew that her glasses were very important to her, but I was in a position where I did not know if this was a trick question or if I was in serious trouble.

Trying to do the right thing, I said to her, “No, I don’t know where your glasses are? Where did you have them last?”

I thought if I said that it would solve the problem and I could go on with a very happy afternoon.

Looking at me, she said rather smartly, “If I knew that I wouldn’t have to ask you where my glasses are.”

That sorted cued me in to the reality of the situation. I was rather sure this was a trick question and I knew I needed to play this very carefully. One wrong word from me, and my boat was sunk for the day.

She came back into the room and I looked at her and smiled very cheerfully, hoping that that would kinda solve the problem. She looked at me and said, “What are you smiling about?”

Now I was a bit confused. Are we facing a real situation here, or, is this a trick to see if I am really on board? I could not understand any of this at this point.

I thought to myself, “Can a person live with another person as long as we have and not know what’s going on?”

Finally, I looked at her and rolled my eyes up and down, hoping that she would take the hint. However, it was a useless gesture.

“Have you seen my glasses? I need them right now.”

At this point, it was all I could do to keep from laughing hysterically. I knew if I did that sort of thing, I would be in a lot of trouble. How can you keep from laughing when the situation before you is of hysterical proportions?

My wife stood in front of me both hands on her hips and then she lifted her right hand to scratch her head and discovered her glasses were on top of her head.

“Oh,” she said as she spun around to leave, “here they are on the top of my head.”

Now what do I do with that? Do I laugh or pretend I do not know what happened? Then, she turned around and looking at me said, “You better not laugh.”

It reminded me of a verse in the Bible. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Sometimes what we are looking for is right in front of us, but we can’t see it.

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About James Snyder

The Reverend James L. Snyder is an award winning author whose writings have appeared in more than eighty periodicals including GUIDEPOSTS. In Pursuit of God: The Life of A. W. Tozer, Snyder’s first book, won the Reader’s Choice Award in 1992 by Christianity Today. Snyder has authored and edited 22 books altogether. He has recently signed a six-book contract with Regal Books based on the preaching ministry of Dr. A. W. Tozer. His weekly humor column, "Out To Pastor," is syndicated to more than 100 weekly newspapers. Through thirty-35 years of ministry, he and his wife Martha have been involved in three church-planting projects prior to their current ministry at the Family of God Fellowship in Ocala, Florida. The Snyders have three children and nine grandchildren.
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