Ask a silly question

I’ve been asked some pretty silly questions in my time. Questions that make you look at the person that asked it in such a way as to make them check in the mirror to ensure that they haven’t got a spot the size of a small donut protruding from their nose. The kind of enquiry that makes you roll your eyes so far back in your head that they come back round the other side, like a particularly gruesome Vegas fruitslot machine. You know what I mean.

It all starts when you’re a kid, of course. When you’re asked “who did that?”, regardless of what the ‘that’ is, there are only two possible answers – “it wasn’t me” or “my sister”. You could have been asked who was responsible for the incredible Michaelangelo-esque painting that was brought home from school, or the impromptu shaving of the shaggy-haired dog (left hand side only) – it doesn’t matter…denial is the only option available.

Stupid questions, or questions that have only one possible answer, continue into later life. Whether it’s “fries or salad, sir?”, “do you think we should buy a big flatscreen TV, darling?”, or “do you think that Megan Fox is attractive?”, life is full of questions that just don’t need to be asked.

Of course, a language has emerged to deal with idiotic enquiries. “Is the Pope a Catholic?”, “do bears shit in the woods?” or “does Rose Kennedy own a black dress?” spring immediately to mind, although this generation might develop its own set of rhetorical responses to mindless questions, I guess. Whether “is Britney Spears a nutjob?”, “does Horatio Caine wear sunglasses?” or “is Michael Jacskon alive, well, and running a thriving nail salon in Norwich?” catch on is still unclear at this time.

Thankfully, when it comes to your interview for a green card, the United States has a whole series of brain-numbingly stupid questions to ask you to ensure that you’re not the kind of undesirable that they’d prefer to turn back at the border.

In fairness, some of them I can understand. Asking whether you’ve been involved in immigration proceedings before seems to be a good way to determine whether you’re a romantic soul who just so happens to have had the misfortune to fall in love with an American, or a state-changing chancer who simply wants to ensure long-term access to bagels and deep-fried vegetable products. But please, what kind of answer do they expect to receive in answer to the question ‘do you intend to commit acts of genocide during your stay in the United States?’ I mean, clearly I WAS intending to, but now I’ve signed to say that I won’t, I guess I should put my plans on hold.

Similarly, is there really any point to “will you engage in activities that will lead to the overthrow of the American government?” Some would argue that prior to January, answering ‘no’ to that question could be seen as disloyal to the United States, and possibly lead to your exclusion from the country on grounds of mental instability. But now I just have to accept that my days of political dissent are behind me.

Two questions during the immigration interview particularly stood out though. I know that marriage is weathering, and that I am not getting any younger, but nonetheless being asked whether I was a member of the Nazi party between 1939 and 1945 seems to be a little harsh. And, given that I was sitting next to The Special One at the time, did they really have to ask whether I intended to practice polygamy in the United States?

One look from The Special One should have told them everything they needed to know.

11 thoughts on “Ask a silly question

  1. Apsidal

    I still struggle to find a non-sarcastic response at airport security to “Could anyone have put anything into your bag without your knowing?” Actually, it’s rare to find security staff with such facility with a gerundive, so you can take it that I am paraphrasing.

  2. Limey

    I remember those questions! Ha!

    How about this for a stupid questions that I have been asked TWICE since moving to America (from Britain): “Did you find it hard learning the language here?”

  3. Lisa

    LOL…. I can see people asking, as a dumb response to the last one, “How many women, exactly, would that involve?” Not to give anyone any ideas.

  4. Potty Mummy

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for blogger of the week on the BMB ning. And a green card is white? How disappointing…

  5. Irene

    Didn’t they ask you if you had been a member of the Communist party? They asked me back then.

    Now that I no longer have a green card, they inquire after my mental health every time I have to fill out one of those visitor cards on the plane. I never tell the truth about what a nut I am.

  6. Leigh Russell

    I wonder how much the bureaucrats who dream up these questions are paid? I can picture them sitting around the table as a committee engaged in serious discussion about the wording – “acts of genocide” or “mass murder” or what about “are you intending to become a sociopath” – so many possibilities . . . unfortunately none of them seem to be “Is this question completely bonkers?”

    Please come over and visit my blog on – I’m posting regularly there on Thursdays. My first post is entitled “Men in Shorts” and the next will be posted on 16th July. I also have my own blog where I chat about the progress of my new crime thriller, Cut Short. It’s set in England so you might like to read it when you’re feeling homesick.

  7. Metropolitan Mum

    This is hilarious – I especially love the Nazi question they make you answer each time you are entering the USA, no matter which country you are coming from.

    Congrats on BMB Blogger of the week! Well deserved!

  8. nappyvalleygirl

    Just found your blog through Potty Mummy. As a newly arrived expat in New York state, this was hilarious. We have just been through the whole US visa process, and my husband is in the process of trying to get a US driving licence, so we have had our fill of this type of question. I wonder if anyone has actually ever answered yes to ‘do you intend to overthrow the US goverment?’

  9. Penney

    hilarious! I kinda want to try to apply for a greencard just to hear all the questions. And then when I fail I can just laugh, because they’re already stuck with me. And I didn’t even have to pass a test.

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