I have a love-hate relationship with riddles and brain teasers. On the one hand, I’m not very good at solving them, especially if I am expected to do it fast. On the other hand, I can’t stay away from them once I get started.
Although they gave us an IQ test in school, our teachers never told us our scores. I suspect, though, that mine was at least reasonable because I suddenly morphed in my teachers’ estimations from a class loser into a Bright Kid Who Wouldn’t Work at It. Therefore, riddles and brain teasers should be easy for me, right?
The other night I was playing on my computer, and I came across this little gem of a riddle for the first time in my life:
Phil asks his friend Stan when his birthday is. Stan replies that he was 32 the day before yesterday, and next year he’ll be 35. When is his birthday and how is this possible?
Stan must be some kind of sadist. Instead of just giving poor Phil the information about his birthday, Stan puts him through the rigmarole of a riddle. Stan could save Phil time and aggravation, but no! He has to have his little brain game. We are not told how Phil reacts, but we suspect he at least tries to guess the answer in order not to look like a bad sport or an idiot.
So okay. Stan was 32 the day before yesterday. Today is June 22. This means that Stan’s birthday was the day before yesterday and he was 32 years old, right? But wait! That means that next year he’ll be 33, not 35. And if yesterday was his birthday and he was 33, he’ll be 34 next year.
My brain cells are dancing a jig by now. If Stan’s birthday is today, he’ll still be 34 next year, not 35. I am beginning to feel as if I know Stan. Should I send him a birthday card? If so, where does he live? That’s another riddle! My brain is going around and around with puzzles.
I can’t stand it anymore, so I cheat and look up the answer. Here it is:
Answer: Today is January 1 and Stan’s birthday is on December 31. He was 32, then turned 33 on December 31, and this year on December 31 he’ll turn 34, so next year he’ll be 35.
Oh, come now! In the original riddle, nobody said anything about it being New Year’s Day. That’s not fair.
I am consumed by the injustice of it all. If you’re going to present a riddle, you should at least give the other person a fighting chance to resolve it, right?
And Stan will get no card from me next December 31!
By the way, I found the above riddle here: https://riddlesbrainteasers.com/.