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Commentary: WH questions

You don't have to be a student to consider the 5Ws. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

 Language arts classes have begun in schools everywhere, and I’m glad of it. Of course, I’m not a student. I’m not gripping the wrong end of a pencil and staring into space as my teacher explains the elements of a narrative. I’m not doodling a picture of Super Mario, or endlessly shuffling papers that don’t need to be shuffled, as the teacher delivers a lesson on writing WH questions (who, what, where, when and why). Therefore, in honor of the children I help to write each day, I’ve decided to join them. Here follows an alternative version of WH questions.

Who in the world would grin from ear to ear while flushing water up their nose? Yet recently, I saw several delighted people do just that on a television advertisement promoting nasal irrigation implements. As they tilted their heads back with a smile, and allowed a cup of salty brine to pass unhindered through their nasal cavities, they looked positively radiant. Is that even possible? Am I missing something? I’m not saying it’s not beneficial, I’m saying it can’t possibly warrant such expressions of joy.

What sort of movies do criminals watch? Husband Tom and I saw The Equalizer this week. It’s an action thriller focussing on an ex-marine turned vigilante. As we watched each scene of mayhem unfold, I thought of the criminals that were either shot, stabbed, skewered, lacerated, crushed or choked to death. People like films where the good guy triumphs, but would bad guys want to see this? Wouldn’t they commiserate with the crooks? Feel for the felons? Hope for the hoods? So, what do they watch?

Where are the editorials, news articles and magazine pieces that don’t cite people’s age? Is this information really relevant? Must we know that the perpetrator of a crime was 38? Is it important to understand the winner of a car was 53? I can think of only one instance where knowing someone’s age might be interesting, one day, long from now; Helen Row Toews, 98 year old Canadian writer, was last seen boarding a Boeing 747 for Europe. Her exact whereabouts are unknown.

 When is it okay to be completely honest with someone? I worked with a man who spent each day talking about his garden. He spoke lovingly of shrubs, perennials and fruit trees, before waxing eloquent over soil type and fertilizer. Then, he discussed the merits of compost, raised beds and proper drainage. That’s why, when he downsized his plot and offered me his castoffs, I happily agreed.  I backed up to his house and hopped out to find him already loading plants into my truck; 73 of them actually. Each one precisely the same as the last—all garlic chives. When would anyone, ever want 73 garlic chive plants? But did I tell him this was madness? Order him to stop? Ask him to give his head a shake? Nope. I thanked him kindly, drove home and swept all but five into a field. 

Why are all the actors in romantic movies either ruggedly handsome or drop-dead gorgeous? Heck, even the taxi driver in scene two, a guy rolling past the camera in a garbage truck and a woman walking her dog were unbelievably attractive. This is not reality! Why are all the chunky, plain folks like me excluded? Why has the average person not been involved? Why has no one with an uneven complexion been employed? Or folks with bad haircuts or big feet? I call discrimination!

Thus concludes my tirade using WH questions. While not quite the outcome that educators are looking for when teaching this lesson, it’ll have to do. Perhaps you have a few WH questions yourself?

Why not give a smile this Christmas? Helen’s newly released books of humorous anecdotes can be found at Amazon under Prairie Wool Books or through her website