D is 19 years old, she’s a college student. She heard a lot of trail games and riddles, and shared one that she learned on a camping trip in high school in California. She says that only people from California have ever recognized it.
“There’s a riddle called trains. The riddle has one person who’s the teller, usually the teller knows the riddle and no one else knows it. Someone says “I’m going to tell you guys about a bunch of trains going to different places, and you have to figure out the pattern.” You have the guess the answer. If I were to say this riddle, I’d say “There’s uhh one train in Los Angeles, zero in San Francisco, there’s like uhh… uhh you could say there’s two trains in Utah. There’s uhh one train in Florida” and it keeps going like that. The answer to the riddle is that every time you say “uhh” in your leadup to the state, that’s how many trains there are.”
I recognized a familiar riddle that I had learned as a child in California, another one that leads you on a long confusing journey while people try to keep up with a pattern, but the answer ends up being something stupid. The informant said that people tried to think about letters or vowels, but the real answer is “just so stupid.” When it comes to riddles, some people want to solve them to see smart, especially once you get a bit older. You want to seem smarter than the kids who normally hear this riddle, so people think of really complex potential answers. In the end though, the answer is just something silly. People sometimes take themselves too seriously when playing silly games and riddles, trying to prove that they are smart and capable of figuring it out easily. Often it’s little kids who are able to get the answer because they’re not overthinking it. Riddles like this encourage people to get back to their childish roots.