Happily, I wasn’t quite old enough to know the derivation of YBYSAIA as the appropriate if PGish answer to that question; it was passed along seventeenth hand when I was in Junior High. I was reminded of it years ago when I saw a bar called The Thursty Turtle just a few miles from our house. It was a relief to confirm that my ability to recollect completely useless bits of ephemera is intact.
George Gobel, of all people, had a minor hit with this ditty, and unless someone knows different, this is the derivation of the question and the answer.
I didn’t set out to expurgate a canonical bit of fluff when I used the formula to ask:
Are You a Songhead?
But it seemed to be appropriate that the first A should change to an E (for, of course, Ears).
Based on the state of the world NOW, I’m ready to start asking a different question:
ARE YOU AN EARTHLING?
Do me a favor and think for a minute how different the planet would be if the only question that mattered, whether asked of a neighbor or a bug or a being on the far side, was that one. We might treat our fellow inhabitant better if, whether they’re able to verbalize it or not, we remind ourselves that the right answer is