Just-So Stories

Posted by fiddlemath on July 8, 2013

Just-so stories are awfully fun to weave. They’re all the best for being maximally improbable but internally consistent. Instant fiction, but with less “story” and more “explanation”. Easier by a wide margin for me to generate off the cuff.

“Why is this teabag a pair of squares, when a pair of circles could have the same volume but with less material?”

“Well, you have to understand that tea-brewing is, in many places, a cultural touchstone with intensely traditional roots. If this is high-quality tea — or wants to look like high quality tea — then it must take that traditional form.

“But why is the traditional tea bag square?”

“Simple! The four corners of the tea bag were, originally, intended to represent the four humors, to be respectively calmed and invigorated by the beverage itself. A circle would represent…” (ominously) “too many humors.”

Ok, that’s not very good. Maybe it would be more amusing in person? Certainly, if people know it’s a game, and are interested in playing together, then it’d be fun to build ridiculous towers of faulty explanation.

(Inspired by a facebook post from, oh, two months ago.)