Giraffe riddle rouses Facebook users' 'inner children'

The giraffe riddle proves that the phase of insatiable love of riddles and bad jokes kids have in elementary school doesn’t die, it just lies dormant until adulthood when triggered by social media.

Juergen Schwarz/dapd/AP
Giraffe riddle: A male giraffe calf Ng'ombe stands in front of his mother Nyiri at the zoo in Cologne, Germany, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012. Giraffe pictures are taking over Facebook as part of a viral giraffe riddle game.

What’s tan and white and red all over? The giraffe riddle on Facebook that has reawakened users’ primary school fascination with riddles and jokes that has lain dormant since age 10.

While many people sigh with frustration when sent yet another social media joke I tend to take the Milton Berle perspective that, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”

The "giraffe riddle" that’s popular on Facebook is a viral social media game in which users change their Facebook profile pictures to giraffe pictures if they've incorrectly answered a riddle.

While many have wondered if this is some kind of Trojan horse virus or data collection scam, UPI assures readers it’s just a joke.

The riddle:

“It’s 3 a.m., the doorbell rings and you wake up. Unexpected visitors! It’s your parents and they are here for breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread, and cheese. What is the first thing you open?”

I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say my 9-year-old, Quin, is deeply disappointed that my profile picture is still of me and not a giraffe.

Quinny is, however, thrilled that I shared the riddle with him because it gave him the perfect excuse to rattle off every riddle he has ever heard as I drove him to school this morning.

There is a phase of childhood I like to call “groaning pains” that happens in elementary school when our kids suddenly develop a fixation for riddles and bad jokes, retelling their favorites until we think we can groan no more.

Because I posed the giraffe riddle I had to suffer Quin’s favorite riddle in return: “What’s brown and sticky?”

After you’ve gone through everything from molasses to poo, he informs you with great ceremony, “A stick!”

“Ha! Get it? A stick is brown and it’s a stick so it’s sticky? Get it,” Quin will say that every single time he tells that joke.

Because Quin is 9 this is a current phenomenon, which his three older brothers got over years ago.

The giraffe riddle brings back good memories of my own childhood, when my Great-Uncle Charlie Sectish, would come to visit.

Charlie was one of those rare people who never exited the joke phase.

The man had a gift of both memory and delivery.

Part of the fun of Charlie’s delivery was that he always laughed so hard himself, a great rasping chuckle that came upon him so powerfully that he’d have to mop his balding pate and dab his eyes with a handkerchief.

If Uncle Charlie were alive today he’d skip answering the giraffe riddle in favor of answering it with a joke of his own. This is the one I recall him telling me:

A man and his pet giraffe walk into a bar. It's about 5 p.m. As the night goes on they really tie one on. Finally, the bartender says: "Last call." So, the man says, "One more for me... and one more for my giraffe." The bartender sets them up and they knock them back. Suddenly, the giraffe falls over dead. The man throws some money on the bar, puts on his coat and starts to leave. The bartender, yells: "Hey buddy, you can't just leave that lyin' there."

To which the man replies: "That's not a lion, that's a giraffe."

OK it’s not a teen-appropriate joke, but that’s what made it even funnier back in the day.

This is my giraffe joke:

Q: What do you get when you cross a giraffe with a hedgehog?

A: A six-foot toothbrush.

I only recall a fraction of the jokes Charlie told me in my youth, but I remember he made me laugh long and hard.

That phase would have come and gone for me had Charlie not embedded in my spirit the value of a good laugh. He gave me a lifelong ticket for that “instant vacation” and as the mother of four boys, my mental bags are always packed and ready to take that trip.

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