Ever tried to explain the unexplainable?


Whose face is that in the cloud? You guess is as good as mine.
Whose face is that in the cloud? Your guess is as good as mine.

THIS IS NOT A RHETORICAL QUESTION: how do you explain the unexplainable (your response may be entered in the comments section or sent to every living, sentient being via telepathy, causing their minds to be invaded by an uninvited, unexpected, meaningless thought)?

If your reply is “I can’t,” “I don’t,” or “I won’t” (or any variation of these), I say, “Woe to you, human of limited imagination” (or “Whoa to you human lacking horse sense”). You can, and you will, if you make it through this article.

One thing I can do exceptionally well is nothing. I am one of the best at sitting around, appearing to be engaged in ceiling-tile counting, while I am immersed in deep thought on some shallow subject. Cruelly, I sometimes share these thoughts.

Kathryn Elizabeth Etier
Kathryn Elizabeth Etier

So it was when I was reminded of a powerful phrase that will allow any person to be an expert on the unexplainable, the inexplicable, and the downright mysterious. I haven’t thought about–or even remembered–this phrase in decades, although it was once quite common, and was used in context as follows:

Speaker #1: Wow! Did you see that huge hole that used to be Main Street? How do you think that happened?

Speaker #2: Ravenous, steroid-enhanced, vampiric zombies were hurled through space and landed face first on Main Street where they satisfied their cravings with massive chunks of asphalt and street debris.

Speaker #1: Seriously, what do you think happened?

Speaker #2: Hey…my guess is as good as any.

What is Speaker #2 telling us? When there is no answer, any explanation will do and every explanation is equally valid. Not every outrageous hypothesis is correct, but none are incorrect (until proven otherwise). Speaker #2’s subtext is less subtle, “What the heck makes you think that I would know how Main Street disappeared? It’s not like it’s in my pocket or anything.”

Closely related to “my guess is as good as any” is the conversation closer “your guess is as good as mine,” or “your guess is as good as any.” The everyday translation of the first statement is “I don’t know, you don’t know, conversation over.” The second is closely related to the first, and can be translated as “No one knows, including you.”

Perhaps not everyone can appreciate the elegant simplicity of sarcasm, just as not everyone will recognize sarcasm when it is flung in their faces. This is why I teach young children–much to their parents’ dismay–how to be sarcastic (hey… everyone needs a hobby). This is also why I will always treasure elegantly simple, time-honored, time-worn, sarcastic clichés. Don’t you?

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