As a senior in high school, I became good friends with a boy. Let's call him James. I had known James since my sophomore year, but we never really grew close until we both got cast in the school musical senior year. There were many jokes played backstage, and eventually, he became a member of my "squad," as some would say. Then, as we graduated and began to go our separate ways, one member of the squad, we'll call her Kaytie, decided to start a project.
The project was for "Open When" letters written to each member of our group as they moved away. "Open When" letters are letters meant for specific occasions or moments in the receiver's life. For example, one might say "open when you miss Jessica," and another might say "open before your first job interview." It's a rather clever idea, and before I left for college, I got my own collection of letters from my friends. Some of them were from Kaytie, some from other friends, and some from James.
I was happy to see some letters from him. I was worried my friends wouldn't fully welcome him to the group, but I had proof now that they did. Slowly, I opened each of the letters, hanging them each on my wall with pride. And then, one day came where I was bored out of my mind and didn't feel like studying for finals. I took a look at my letters, and stumbled across a perfect one for the occasion: "open when you are bored."
So, I opened it. Needless to say, this letter was from James, but it was no ordinary letter. It only contained a few, short lines.
Solve this riddle:
No one can see it
Anyone can touch it
Half of the world thinks it doesn't exist
Fifty percent of this object is made of water
A little goes a long way
Money cannot buy it.
Now, I never turn down an opportunity to solve a riddle, so I got to work. Countless answers rolled through my head: love, water, air, and even thoughts. But none of these seemed to suit my friends as I messaged them my guesses. They simply kept replying "nah fam," a phrase which became an inside joke in the group months before. I was stumped, but stubborn. I refused to be given the answer, or even a simple hint, but instead spent three days working on this riddle.
And I went full out. I started downloading sudoku and crossword apps, memory games, all with the intent to train my brain for a riddle such as this. And feel free to try yourself; in fact, pause reading this, because, spoiler alert, the answer is in this article.
On the third day, I was going nuts. It got to the point where I just pulled out a dictionary and started messaging my friend's random things, only to receive hundreds of "nah fam" messages in return. Eventually they took pity on me, and gave me one small hint: look at the riddle.
And I kid you not, I screamed. I jumped off the wall. I think I even flipped the chair at my desk over in the heat of my anger/laughter. "The riddle... is an acrostic poem... for NAH FAM??" I texted my friends. "NAH FAM??? REALLY?!?! I SPENT THREE DAYS ON NAH. FREAKING. FAM???"
Approximately 3.7 seconds later, my phone started ringing. It was James. "NAH FAM?" I yelled into the phone. "I cannot believe you made me spend three days on this riddle only to find out the answer was nah fam!" All I heard was laughter on his end, which only made the situation funnier to me. But I couldn't let on that I was enjoying this torture! "You know, I could end you. I could stop being your friend for this!" I had begun laughing too, so James hardly believed me.
I admit, this was the funniest thing that had happened to me since moving away to college. And yes, the riddle still hangs proudly on my wall five months later. But don't worry, I got my revenge on James. See, he had moved away to serve a mission for our church, and we wrote some "Open When" letters for him as well. Immediately, I claimed the "open when you're bored" letter and began writing my masterpiece. To this day, he is still stumped, but very close to the answer. My only hope is that my letter brings him as much joy as it brought me, sitting in my dorm room alone that day. Because joy is better than any revenge I could have sought.