The Interrogative Mood

The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell

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Authors: Padgett Powell
just a bit and I’ll stop by later tonight”?
    What does “It just goes to show you” mean? Have you ever built or operated a trebuchet? If you could get ahold of some dynamite for recreational purposes, would you be hesitant, indifferent, or eager? Do you have a specific length shorts must be or are you flexible in this regard? Is Santa Claus in your view essentially a pedophile? How long would it take you to get over a house fire that destroyed everything you owned and thought dear to you? At what age does a fawn stopsitting in your lap and acting like a house cat or a dog and become a deer, and why does this change necessarily obtain? If you heard someone say “In America, one word says it all,” what would you expect the word to be?
    What is the name of the last person with whom you enjoyed sleeping? What things or people would you use the word hardy to describe? Do you understand how whether baseball players use steroids or not is a matter for the United States Congress to attend? Do you comprehend exactly how more casualties on a battlefield can be said to render previous casualties on a battlefield not to have been in vain? Is the argument beneath this logic not that the losing dead are worse off than the winning dead?
    Is there any hope? Do we need galoshes? Are bluebirds perfect? Is there charity? Can there be reason? Does a kitten settle your nerves? Would you like to play a board game? If you would, do you know which one you’d like to play? In all of human history, would you say mothers or fathers are the more loved?
    If you could see a large-animal trainer mauled in the middle of his or her show, perhaps even killed, would you prefer to see the mauling done by a lion, atiger, or a bear? If it were a bear, would the pleasure or horror you took from the moment be mitigated or heightened in any way by the presence of bicycle-riding in the show? Is semaphore still used at sea or has it been displaced by the digital age? Would you take final pleasure if acquitted of a serious charge or would you always feel tainted? Do you see the exact humor in “That’s so funny I forgot to laugh”? Does it change things a bit for you to perceive that these questions want you bad? And that they are perhaps independent of me, to some degree? That they are somewhat akin to, say, zombies of the interrogative mood?
    DO YOU EVER THINK you hear someone saying “Liftoff!”? What would it mean if you dreamed you found two baby squirrels and asked two women if they knew a good baby-squirrel formula and when you fetched the squirrels you found they had drowned because you had inexplicably iced them down, and the ice had melted, and now the baby squirrels were sodden gray puppy-looking short-haired turds in a foul juice, and you broke down crying in front of the women, asking, “Why would I have iced them?” Do you try to listen toclassical music but feel you don’t ever really advance past knowing it’s better than it sounds? Would any particular failing on your part today be more painful than all other failings?
    Would it require more energy than you have in order for you to really lose it, or do you think really losing it can be a function of having too little energy to prevent losing it? Do the people you do not wish to talk to far exceed the number you do wish to talk to? Do you have much to say to even those to whom you do wish to speak? Do you know where it went wrong with you? Do you own any good copper? Are you favorably disposed to American Indian causes but less so if you must say Native American causes? Are you more at ease in a veneer of civilization or in a true hardwood of barbary? What is your favorite piece of equipment on a playground? Do you know by sight and sound an oboe from a bassoon? When you hear someone say “There’ll be hell to pay,” do you assume generally that there will be or won’t be hell to pay?
    Don’t you think it a fairly prudent plan if in the halcyon early days of a relationship,

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