Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Adam Pooped.

Posted by Neal on August 7, 2005

A few nights ago, my wife and I put Doug and Adam to bed. Then I did my usual routine of cleaning the litter boxes and taking out the trash, and she took care of some things while keeping an ear out for the kids. Afterwards we sat down to debrief. She said, “Adam pooped.”

Without thinking too hard about it, I said, “Thanks.” Then we looked at each other and laughed. She knew (and I knew she knew) that I must be replaying that last exchange in my head, thinking, “That’s funny. It sounds like I’m thanking her for Adam’s bowel movement.” Here is the chain of reasoning I think I must have gone through in order to arrive at Thanks as a felicitous reply to Adam pooped:

  1. Adam is potty-trained.
  2. Therefore, he must have pooped in the potty, else wife would have said “had an accident.”
  3. Adam needs help wiping, and stays on the potty until one of us helps him.
  4. Adam is not on the potty now.
  5. Therefore, someone must have helped him wipe.
  6. I didn’t help Adam wipe.
  7. Therefore, my wife must have helped him wipe.
  8. I should thank her for doing this.

Yessir, [insert Barney Fife sniff here] armed with a little knowledge about pragmatics, I’m pretty good at making these connections. That’s why when my wife came back from a social gathering a few weeks ago and said, “I met a woman who’s trying to find homes for some kittens. She says they’re really cute,” I carefully replied, “Hm.” (Their names are Ruby and Diamond, by the way.)

4 Responses to “Adam Pooped.”

  1. Anonymous said

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  2. chris said

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  3. Anonymous said

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  4. chris said

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