Tuesday, June 25, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on April 21st, 2015, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 16, Issue 7 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 16, Issue 7

'What' is the problem


The University of California system has decided that my son is some sort of academic genius. He was accepted into both UCLA and UC Berkeley. Yes, I am a proud father, but since I know him so well, I find it a bit odd that the universities think he’s a genius. Sure, on paper, his SAT scores and AP scores indicate excellent intelligence. But any conversation with this teenage kid would tell the schools a very different story.

“Son, how was your day?”


“Your day. How was it?”


“What part of the question don’t you understand?”


“Never mind. You came home from school, that’s the important thing.”

My son answers every single question you ask him with another question. This isn’t because he is super inquisitive. In reality, it indicates he may be hard of hearing. At one point, we did have him tested. Turns out he could hear sounds, but apparently not the sound of my voice.

“Did you like the movie you just saw?”


“The movie. You went to the movies. Did you like it?”


“Never mind. I’ll read the review in the Sun.”

It isn’t just his constant verbal response of “What?” that makes me wonder about his IQ. When he says the word “what” he looks at me and contorts his face as if the question I just asked him was the dumbest question he had ever heard during his 18 years on this planet.

“Do you want anything from the store?”

He contorts his face and asks, “What?”

“The grocery store. Where we buy groceries. To eat. Do you want something from there?”

“What?” he asks again with even more extreme face contorting.

“Never mind. I’ll get you some mac and cheese.”

I have certainly had my concerns over this whole “what?” thing, but the kid gets good grades, and he keeps his room clean, so who am I to complain if all he says to me is “what?” He’s a teenager. It’s the 21st century. I guess if I want him to answer my questions, I should just text him.

Occasionally, our lack of communication does cause some issues—financial issues to be exact. Recently, he drove down to Orange County to take a lifeguarding instructor course. When he got back I asked him how his trip went, “Any problems with the LA freeways?”


“The roads. The ones with all the lanes. The freeways. Any issues?”


“Never mind. You got home in one piece.”

A few weeks later, I got a bill in the mail from the DMV showing that my son’s license plate had driven over some toll roads without paying the toll. Not just once, SIX TIMES! I owed $36 in toll-road costs.

“Didn’t you see the signs that you were on a toll road?”


“A road. That you are required to pay toll on?”


“Never mind. I’ll just pay the bill. You’re home safe, that’s all that matters.”

The following week he wanted to drive up to Berkeley to check out the campus. I told him: “Listen, I grew up in Northern California, there are hella bridges up there. You have to have cash with you for the bridge tolls.”


“Just drive safe.”

After he got back from his trip he told me: “Dad, I got this piece of paper when I went across the Bay Bridge. It says we owe a fine or something?”

“It says we owe 30 bucks because you didn’t have money to cross the bridge! I told you, you need cash in your pocket when you drive in Nor Cal. Now I have to pay this hella big fine.”


“A fine. I have to pay it!”


“I want to know one thing. How is it you are smart enough to get accepted into Berkeley, but you aren’t smart enough to cross the bridge to actually drive to Berkeley?”


“Never mind. I love you. Get my checkbook, an envelope, and a stamp. We need to pay this toll.”


“I’ve had it! If you say ‘what’ one more time, you’re going to Community College!”

“Wh … why?”


The next time Rob’s son takes a road trip, Rob is going to put the neighbor’s license plates on the car. If you enjoy Rob’s stories check out his novel Cadet Blues available on Amazon.com.

Weekly Poll
What do you think of PG&E's "public safety power shut off" plan?

The outages will be annoying and dangerous for customers.
The outages are vital to preventing wildfires.
PG&E should do more to fix its actual infrastructure before cutting power.
How will I watch Netflix if the power is out?!

| Poll Results