Discarded Research Questions from My Dissertation: A Non-Exhaustive List
When working on a dissertation, one of the most crucial components is its research question. It is the argument’s overall purpose–essentially the question the author aims to answer with his or her kajillion-page opus. Having waded through an obscene amount of academic literature on possible topics for the better part of this summer, I recently sat down to take my first stab at my own research question, and thought I’d share some of the questions that didn’t quite make the cut:
1. If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, who gives a crap?
2. What are the longitudinal physiological and psychological effects of allowing an old man to knick knack on various parts of one’s body prior to rolling home?
3. To what extent does a random sample of people report whether or not they let the dogs out?
4. Where’s Waldo? (A Case Study)
5. In the event of seeing a little silhouette-o of a man, will a sample population do the fandango? And furthermore, in the presence of very, very frightening thunderbolts and lightning, will they let him go? (The researchers hypothesize that bismilah, no, they will not let him go, even despite numerous protests.)
Don’t Call Me Mr. Mom
Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless: So are you still being Mr. Mom?
Me: You know, the term “Dad” works just fine.
Sure, I could have just let it go. I could have replied, “Yes, I am still being Mr. Mom.” thus avoiding the awkward pause that ensued. Don’t take it personally, I used to tell myself. It’s just a (tired, lame, unfunny) joke. But this terminology is pinned on me often and I have recently decided I am done with just letting it go.
It’s not that I feel emasculated wrangling the Twins all week. I challenge any “man’s man” who thinks stay-at-home parenting is for sissies to actually try it for one day. (In fact, I imagine it could make for a thoroughly entertaining reality show, with each episode culminating in a grown man sobbing.) It’s definitely not easy, but at the same time it’s also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Many fathers would jump at the opportunity to spend as much time with their children as I do, especially at this age. I blinked when they were eight months old and was suddenly thrown into a DeLorean which promptly accelerated to 88 miles per hour, traversing space and time to today, as I open my eyes and find them eleven months old. Until I can get the Flux Capacitor to flux again, I make an effort each day to take it all in (and document it in HD) because I know how fleeting babyhood is.
Willy Wonka’s Fatal Mistake
I was just about to fall asleep after an exhausting day of twin-wrangling.
They’re both crawling now–not full-on, up-on-their-knees crawling, but they are definitely proficient army-style creepers, swift enough to entangle themselves in dangerous twinanigans if I look away for even a few seconds.
Beside me in the bed laid my wife, whose mind was still apparently very much at work, contemplating important career decisions.
As I approached the threshold of sleep, it occurred to me that upon entering the dreamscape, my arch-nemesis Skeletor would undoubtedly be up to his usual antics, necessitating a DeLorean trip back in time during which I would need to orchestrate my then-teenage father decking that skull-faced a-hole outside the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance in the Castle Grayskull Gymnasium to create just enough of a diversion for me to hurl the Ring of Power into the Goblet of Fire, so that it could be displayed in a museum where it belongs. But just as I was unsheathing my Light Saber, a voice broke the silence, pulling me out of the Gumdrop Forest and back to reality.
The voice was my wife’s.
If I were Willy Wonka, I would have made a cheese factory instead of a candy factory.
If you had found me just then, I would have been dumb. Because I was dumbfounded. “Huh?” Those of you who are Loyal Readers are aware of my wife’s fascinating pillow talk contributions to our marriage.
“Think about it. There would be all kinds of cheese everywhere–a forest of cheese, a cheese river, cheese wallpaper, Everlasting Cheese-Gobstoppers that never go bad. It would be amazing.”
I weighed my wife’s idea carefully, critically, honestly, and came to a crucial decision. “That. Is. Phenomenal.”
“Yeah. Wonka really dropped the ball on that one.”
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If not, the answer may be cheese.