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.)
“Okay,” my wife proclaimed, performing a one-woman evacuation of my son’s bedroom. “I’m not going to freak out, but there’s poop on the wall.”
I was proud of her–assuming, of course, that there was, in fact, poop on the wall–because she is our marriage’s sanitation enthusiast. In The Land Before Twinfants, our dwelling was cleaned regularly and often due to her impeccable attention to decontaminatory detail, a gene I never inherited. As a former fraternity house resident, I tend not to recognize that a household item or surface requires cleaning until I trip over a dust bunny attempting to hand me a rent check, as he has recently decided that if he’s going to stick around this long, it is only fair for him to kick in some money.
Rarely is one presented with such a stellar conversation starter as “There is poop on the wall.” I was riveted–I had so many questions. But first, I needed to make sure I heard her correctly, and so, with eyes alight in anticipation, I inquired, “There’s poop on the wall?”
“Yes. There is poop. On the wall.” Okay, so this was no joke. There was. In fact. Poop. On the wall. But where?
“Yes. In there.”