Don’t ask

I never thought that my eight-month old daughter, who has all of two front teeth (both lower), would soon find reason to gnash them, albeit against her upper gum. But it seems Karmina Constantino has that effect, even on infants.

“Isn’t this a rather early stage to be developing such strong feelings, child?” I asked her, and proceeded, without delay, to e-mail ANC, telling the network about this phenomenon, and how it might consider issuing a parental advisory regarding its morning news anchor.

I didn’t realize what my daughter’s problem was with Karmina Constantino until I had finished writing the long e-mail, sent it, left my computer, resumed my position in front of the TV set, and saw that Karmina Constantino was still finishing the question she had started when I left her.

My baby was frowning, in a way that said, hey, this woman was taxing her admittedly short attention span.

And everybody else’s, it would seem, including her guests’. In that particular interview,
former UP President Dodong Nemenzo, a renowned thinker of quite complicated thoughts, proved no match to the standard Karmina Constantino question. “The question is too complicated,” he curtly replied.

So she began again, on a long and arduous journey.

What is the standard Karmina Constantino question? Let me put it this way: “What is the standard Karmina Constantino question?” is not a standard Karmina Constantino question. It is too direct to the point. It fails to take the interviewee on the extended excursion that Karmina Constantino apparently believes it is her duty to take them.

Let me put it another way: I am actually glad my daughter is frowning. Because while I dreaded the day when I would be asked “Why is the sky blue?” that was before Karmina Constantino.

Now, I’m having nightmares about being asked: “Father, why (and by ‘why’ it is presupposed that I am asking a question and I expect an answer) is this matter (and here, I use ‘matter’ loosely, to include not just ‘matter’ in the scientific sense but also concepts) we call ‘sky’ — which admittedly is a non-scientific concept but nevertheless suffices for purposes of identification – blue?”

I would, of course, have to clear my throat. “…And before you answer that, Father, I hope you realize that by ‘blue’ I mean a specific spectral color discernable on a chromaticity diagram, excluding other senses of ‘blue’ that have evolved metaphorically in the course of time.”

There ought to be a rule prohibiting talk show hosts from asking a question they can’t tackle in a standard high school sentence-diagramming exam.

But there’s hope. I don’t know if it was because of my e-mail, but it seems that Karmina Constantino has realized that her questions are too long and too complicated that she has come up with a solution. No, her questions are still long and complicated. But now, at least, when she asks a guest a question, she suggests an answer.

SunStar Cebu
28 July 2005

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