Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: STEAM (12/03/15)
- TITLE: A Very Simple Question
By Gerald Shuler
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“Jasper?” I asked. He grunted so I continued. “How are things going at school?”
“Would you do me a favor and put your game down while we talk.” I realized after it was said how rude I must have sounded, but he put the game on pause and set it beside him.
“Sure, Gramps. Is something wrong?”
That, I know, was an open door. I could have gotten right to the core of what was bothering me. I guess I'm just not that fast of a thinker. I ignored the front door invitation and went, instead, to the locked back door.
“Nothing is wrong, Jasper. I just wanted to talk to you.”
“UmOkay,” he grunted. “So what do you want to talk about?”
“Your mother tells me you are on the debate team at school. How is that going?” I almost expected another grunt but was pleasantly surprised.
“It's going great. Our team took 1st place at our last meet.”
An actual conversation was ensuing. I was thrilled.
“That's wonderful. Congratulations!” I meant it... I was truly proud of my grandson. “So, what were you debating?”
Okay, so it has been decades since I was on a debate team in school. But, steam? What would you debate? Is steam real? Should we do away with steam? Does the government have too much control of steam? Again, I headed for the locked door.
“Were you pro or con?”
“Fortunately, my position was pro so I had it easy.”
That didn't give me a clue at all.
“I guess you had to know a lot about steam to win. Do you mind if I quiz you about steam?”
“Fire away. I can answer any question about Steam.”
Finally, I had my open door and I wasn't going to blow it this time.
“First, a very easy question.” I certainly didn't want to discourage him with tough questions. I was being smart. “How hot is steam?”
“Steam is the hottest platform available.”
Now it was me who grunted. It is all I could think to do while trying to understand his answer. Platform? What does that have to do with steam?
“Jasper, did you understand the question” He had a blank look to him so I decided to rephrase the question. “At what temperature does water convert to steam?”
I could tell by the look on his face that he finally understood. Despite the Neverland of his world, we were finally communicating.
“Gramps,” he said, with a broad smile. “Do you even know what Steam is?”
Okay, so there are gaps in our communicating. This gap had me totally floored, though. Do I know what steam is? What kind of question is that? Forget the back door. Ignore the open door. I was ready to just shout through the door.
“Why wouldn't I...” I heard the frustration in my voice, so I stopped. He lives in a different world. Maybe I need to learn what steam is in his world. “Okay, Jasper. What is steam?” I felt foolish and proud of my response in the same ridiculous moment.
“Steam is a company that distributes electronic games to all three major platforms... Windows, Mac and Linux.” His smile broadened. “Were you thinking of the old fashion steam? Ice turns to water, water turns to steam, one element but three forms? The answer you want is 212 degrees.”
I grunted again. Evidently his teachers had been able to enter his world effectively. I hadn't been so good at it. We had just endured the strangest conversation of our lives. The strangest part of that strange conversation, though, was that we were closer because of it. I did learn one thing...
Grunting is a valid form of modern communication.
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