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March 30, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

the Wong View – “Why Not”

Question: What two words will get you out of anything?

Answer: ‘Why not’

Example: Should I really spend my time reading this article? Answer: Why not.

These two words can change your life. They answer all questions with no fear. They offer the ultimate phrase of ambiguity. Also… I had nothing else to write about. So why not write a column about ‘why not’? … Why not?

‘Why not’ is like the chameleon of the English language. Its ability to adapt to any situation is astounding. However, do not underestimate these simple words. Sure, anyone can say “why not”. But for those who wish to refine their technique, it’s all in the punctuation.

Example: Will you marry me? Why not?

Now compare this with ‘Why not!’ and ‘Why not.’ Notice how the meaning changes significantly. Yet it still cleverly manages to evade the question. Using my analytical skills (and taking a page out of Michael Langdon’s teh apostrohey), I will attempt to demonstrate this point. See, my BA was totally worth it.

‘Why not!’ should only be used on those rare occasions when you are telling the truth, yet wish to remain undecided. It’s quite convenient in those circumstances where you can’t lie, but being honest would mean being boring. Take an interrogation for example. Where’s the fun if you can’t spend a night in a jail cell?

It’s that little exclamation mark. Such a simple symbol actually indicates an emotional outburst. This is an important point to note, regardless if you are using the phrase ‘why not’. Angry? Just place a ‘!’ on the end—people will shudder at your frustrated words. Happy? Yes, it still works marvelously. Murderous? Even better. It’s not just an ordinary piece of punctuation. It’s freaking awesome!

I would prescribe the more neutral ‘why not.’ for everyday situations. It provides the faintest hint of sarcasm, yet enough to leave your audience confused. But how do such words acquire this legendary status? Well, it’s the full stop. Traditionally, most people use it to end a sentence—a category that I personally belong to. However, add a couple more dots and you have an ellipsis. This, in turn, creates a pause… The pause adds time… And time creates awkwardness. What I am trying to say is that punctuation maximises dramatic effect.

Example: “Did you poo here?”

“Why not…”

Kids are rather intelligent. They have mastered the use of ‘why not?’ for hundreds of years. And now I impart their wisdom to you. See, it’s all in the question mark. That nifty piece of punctuation does more than incite queries. It creates quarrels. And coupled with the right words, your witty/sarcastic self can be unleashed.

‘Why not?’ should only be used when you want to be annoying. It’s one of those phrases that offer endless debate (but also endless fun for you).

Knowledge is unnecessary in these circumstances. Ignorance is your best friend. You are to be armed with this phrase only. Try it. If you want to be extremely frustrating, add the exclamation mark mentioned earlier. It will make your argument substantially stronger.

Example: “Why did you poo here?”

“Why not?”

“Is that seriously your answer?”

“Why not?!”

So there you have it. This mysterious phrase has now become public knowledge. As a parting thought, I shall leave you with these questions to ponder:

The half-ton man? Why not.

Poisonous Weta? Why not.

Crayons? Why not.

Warm milk? Why not.

Elmo? Why not.

The Wong View? Why not.

(Note: To test the readership of this column, please wear a pirate hat next Monday. If I see you, I will give you a high-five. Boo-yah.)


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