Brent and Stephanie walked through the furniture store, choosing a new couch for the living room. They found a turquoise love seat that made Brent cringe.
“I love it, don’t you?” asked Stephanie.
At this moment, everything in the world around Brent stopped. A narrator emerged from the shadows.
“What you have just experienced,” said the narrator, “is a rhetorical question. Stephanie does not actually care what you think.”
“Really?” asked Brent. “Then why’d she ask for my opinion?”
“You’ve clearly missed the subtle cues. By saying she likes it, she wants you to affirm her opinion,” explained the narrator.
“But I don’t like it.”
“That’s irrelevant,” said the narrator.
“She said I had to come along to help pick out a couch. This thing is hideous and uncomfortable, and it’s not even a couch,” complained Brent.
The narrator listened patiently as Brent vented. “You clearly missed the point of this exercise.”
“Moral support,” said the narrator. “We all know you’re favourite piece of furniture is a beanbag chair.”
“That’s ‘cause they’re awesome.”
“They are,” admitted the narrator, “if you’re a ten year old boy. You’re now an adult, so you need adult furniture.”
“Maybe, but not that,” scoffed Brent.
The narrator waved his hand around the furniture store. “Which one would you rather have?”
Brent eyes darted from couch to couch. “I don’t know.”
“Stephanie knows exactly what she wants,” explained the narrator.
“They why drag me along?”
The narrator sighed deeply. “You’re not paying attention. You’re here to support her decision.”
“Right,” nodded Brent. “So what should I do?”
“That depends. Do you want to keep her happy?”
“Well then…” led the narrator.
Understanding filled Brent’s face. “That’s why it’s a rhetorical question.”
The narrator smiled. “I think you’ve got it.”
“I do now, thanks,” said Brent. “You’re a really helpful guy to have around.”
“I do my best,” said the narrator. “Are you ready to continue?”
“Yes. Wait. Why have I never met you before today? You could’ve saved me a lot of grief over the years,” said Brent.
“There’s only one of me, and a lot of need.”
“That makes sense, I guess,” admitted Brent. “Will I ever meet you again?”
“I can’t make any guarantees, so learn this lesson well,” said the narrator.
The narrator stepped back into the shadows and the world sprung back to life.
“So, do you love it?” asked Stephanie.
“It’s perfect,” replied Brent.
She smiled and gave him a hug. “I knew you would.”