On November 14, 2013 by Kunle Barker


Like all men, I occasionally find myself in the peculiar predicament of being asked a question to which there is no correct answer. I’m aware of this phenomenon as it has happened to me before, I’ve even given this type of question a name, the Rubik’s Conundrum. Just like a Rubik’s Cube, these questions seem relatively simple, but just like a Rubik’s Cube these questions are harder to solve than their initial appearance suggests. I first found this out on Christmas Day 1982 when I was given my first Rubik’s Cube. It seemed pretty easy, just match up the colours, right? Wrong. To a ten-year-old Papa Bean it was basically impossible and the day did not end well for that particular Rubik’s Cube as before lunch I set upon it with a flat head screwdriver and hammer. By the beginning of the Queen’s Speech the puzzle was solved, albeit not in the way Mr Rubik had probably envisaged.

Recently I was caught off guard and became embroiled in a completely unwinnable discussion. Mummy Bean asked me a question that placed me firmly in the middle of a Rubik Conundrum. A question that I had no business even attempting to answer, a question that should have been avoided at all costs even if I had to scream, “FIRE, FIRE!” and run out of the house. I know what you are thinking; what the hell did Mummy Bean ask me? Well, I will tell you, she asked, “Do you think I look pregnant?”

If you really think about it, “Do you think I look pregnant?” is an impossible question to answer correctly, mainly because the correct answer is what your wife/partner wants to hear at that particular time.  She has already made up her mind what the right answer is, your job is to make sure you guess correctly. This is not as easy as it sounds as I found out for myself one summer’s night in July.



Mummy Bean posed the troubling question just after dinner as I cleared away the remains of our ‘Nandos Night’ supper. I immediately knew I was in trouble as my ‘Spidey Sense’ began to tingle. I sensed danger. I hid it well with a broad grin whilst all the time simultaneously trying to compute all the options, the possible answers that would allow me to survive intact. However, it wasn’t working and as my grin grew broader and broader and as the panic began to set in, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t survive this encounter. Then, as I began to take some solace in the fact that my last supper had been a plate of ‘extra hot’ Nandos chicken wings, I suddenly saw a way out; there was light at the end of the tunnel.

As I walk back into the dining room Mummy Bean is gazing at me expectantly waiting for my response. “Well, what do you think? Do I look pregnant?” asks Mummy Bean. “I don’t know, what do you think?” I triumphantly reply. “HA, excellent, now all I have to do is agree with Mummy Bean’s response and I’m safe. It takes more than a trick question to catch out Papa Bean. To my horror, my sense of triumph turns out to be just that, a sense of it. Mummy Bean quickly replies, “I’m not sure, that’s why I’m asking you.” Bugger, what now? I’m now grinning like a demented Cheshire cat trying to stall for time so that I might figure a way out of this predicament. I try to gauge from her body language what she is thinking. Mummy Bean is stood in the dining room holding her belly and striking poses in the full-length mirror. I try to deduce if she is holding her belly proudly, in which case the answer is, “Yes, dear, you do look pregnant.” Or is she trying to conceal her bump, in which case the correct answer is, “No, dear, you don’t look pregnant.”



It’s pointless. I just can’t tell what Mummy Bean is thinking, and now it’s time, I have to answer. I call upon my street smarts, academic learning and even adopt the last refuge of the scoundrel; prayer. I pray to all known gods, deities and prophets for help, in the hope that they might enlighten me, that they may guide me in this dark hour. It’s taking too long and I’m panicking. I have to think quick, or at the very least more quickly. I can’t say she looks pregnant, that will upset her (plus she doesn’t look pregnant, not really), but also I don’t want to say she doesn’t look pregnant, she may think something is wrong and that the baby is not developing properly.

I now have only seconds left to answer, so I use my time wisely and attempt to employ logic. Okay, so what is pregnant, doesn’t look pregnant, but also doesn’t look not pregnant. Are you following this? I can’t figure this out, but then all of a sudden, something happens. A flash of inspiration, a moment of clarity, divine intervention, whatever you want to call it, I have an answer; it’s a magical answer, the answer that will finally see me crowned King of the Rubik’s Conundrum. I’ve got it, this is a wonderful moment, and I take my time, pause, turn to Mummy Bean, and with a broad smile say, “No, dear, you don’t look pregnant, you just look like you’ve got a bit of a belly.”

As I watch the look on Mummy Bean’s face turn from astonishment to mild rage I realise that in theory I could have skillfully sidestepped this problem, except for one small thing. I’ve just called her FAT.

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