"Guess what?" "What?" "THAT'S what!"
September 9, 2008 7:22 AM Subscribe
When I was a kid (in the early 70s), this baffling "riddle" was all the rage in the schoolyard: A: "Guess what?" B: "What?" A: "THAT'S what!" I thought this was a quirky but of Southern Indiana nonsense, but my wife -- who hails from Alabama -- also remembers it from her youth. What does it mean? What's its origin?
posted by grumblebee to Society & Culture (53 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Just to be clear: one kid walks up to another and says, "Guess what?"
"What?" asks the second kid (the straight man).
"THAT'S what!" says the first.
The last line was always said in a "gotcha" voice, is if the second kid was a moron and should have known the answer all along.
So I get that it's a weird sort of schoolyard insult/trick. And I can appreciate the absurdity of it (the nonsense quality). But I still feel like I'm missing something. And I'm sure that I -- and most of the kids who engaged in this ritual -- had no idea what it meant. We just did it like we recited certain nursery rhymes without knowing what they meant.
Does anyone know the origin? I'm surprised it co-existed in both Indiana and Alabama. Presumably, it existed it other places, too. I'm wondering if (maybe in some altered form) it comes from some pop-culture comedy show from the time -- maybe something like "Laugh-in."