Column Chronicles
The box controversy
Frank Cotolo
September 14, 2017
For years now, we have all heard people use the phrase "Think out of the box" to explain how a person could apply fresh ideas to the thought process. It's so popular and accepted that no one ever questions why the phrase is used, as opposed to simply saying, "Apply a fresh idea to your thought process."
The reason for this is because "the box" refers to a puzzle that has nine dots that, across and down create a box. The challenge is to link the dots using four straight lines, at the most, without taking the pencil off of the paper. To correctly solve the puzzle, a person has to literally draw lines that go beyond the box.
Professor Ensign Quagmire, a noted teacher of intelligence quotients, has been disturbed that the phrase ever caught on.
"As a metaphor," he said in an interview for IQ Weekly that did not reveal his deep German accent, "the box is a poor symbol, since a box is not a constant size or shape. Boxes can be long and short and tall and thin and thick and some do not even have a square shape. So, in which box should a person imagine him or herself to think creatively?
"Also, why do people assume they live inside of a box? What about those people who feel their lifestyles are not confined by imaginary walls, which symbolize boundaries, values and standard behavior? They can think nowhere else but outside of an area of space enclosed within straight lines."
Professor Quagmire received much flak from his attitude about the phrase. Fred Stench, CEO of the Smythe Box Company, publicly insulted the professor when he said, "That old bag of gas doesn't realize boxes get free advertising from that phrase and that helps support thousands of people who work to create boxes, an industry this country was founded upon."
Ricky Pillbox, President of the A.C.B.W.U. (Amalgamated Cardboard Box Workers Union), was harsher when he told reporters, "The box is a patriotic symbol of America and criticizing it is like spitting on the American flag, something professors with thick German accents have no problem doing."
Clementine Destitute, major spokesman of the BCL (Blue Collar League), an organization dedicated to preserving simple phrases for the masses and keeping vague words out of television sitcoms and other commercial broadcasts, called Quagmire "a lousy guy."
Professor Quagmire has considered writing a book about the "multitude of meanings" referring to the popular phrase.
"If I can come up with an original format to present the text of such a book I may begin to write it," the professor said.
In response, Destitute said, "No one will read a book written by a lousy guy."
Frank Cotolo can be found hosting the talk and interview programme Cotolo Chronicles. You can send him an e-mail at this address:
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