“Grandma. Two grandkids. They are twins—a pair of boys. They’re totally identical except one always tells the truth and one always lies, always. So, she’s at a “T” in the road—one way is right, the other is wrong. The boys know the answer. She has one question to ask to find out which way to turn. What does she ask?”

“She asks, ‘What would your brother say?’”

This riddle is a true riddle—it has all the information necessary to figure out the answer. However, despite it being a true riddle, I was initially confused when Laura told me this riddle. She explained answer to me as follows: “One lies and says left. The other says what his brother would say and says left. So, she knows to turn right on the road.”

Her friend Richie told her the riddle during a ski trip. One night, the electricity went out in the ski cabin. Because they could not watch television, they decided to entertain themselves by trading jokes, riddles, and stories. I think it is unfortunate that the only reason they started telling jokes, riddles, and stories is because they could not watch television. If they had a choice in the matter, they would have picked watching television over trading riddles.

Laura tells this riddle in situations where she needs to kill time. If she is bored, she might ask someone to tell her a riddle, or she may tell someone the riddle. Once again, it is unfortunate that telling riddles has become a way to kill time instead of being a form of preferred entertainment.

She does not really like the riddle because of the riddle itself; she likes the riddle because it has sentimental value. It reminds her of her friend Richie and the moment she heard it. She said it was fun when they began telling each other riddles and stories. In my opinion, she probably enjoyed the riddle and story telling more than she would have enjoyed just watching television. However, when the choice comes down to it even now, after her fun experience in the ski cabin, she would choose watching television over hearing a riddle.

I found this riddle very intellectually stimulating. Unlike most people, Laura actually had me guess for a really long time; she did not tell me the answer right away. Even when she told me the answer, I still was not completely clear on why it made sense. I agree with her reasoning behind why both boys would answer, “left.”

The context in which the item was performed indicates a lot about the society we live in. The majority of the population in the United States has a television set. We choose watching television, perhaps watching folklore on television, over choosing to perform or watch folklore live. We have this choice because we have televisions. In other, economically poorer countries, only a few people have television sets. These poorer people who cannot afford televisions do not have the choice, and thus when they see folklore, they are seeing it performed live. Trading jokes, riddles, and stories is entertainment to people who cannot watch television. Having a choice in the matter deeply affects the medium through which we experience folklore.