DUBNER: All right, well, Levitt, I feel indebted to you because I feel it’s if not valuable, then at least useful, and I use it now and again. And so I would like to return the favor, to give you something that you can use in certain circumstances. So here’s the thing. Do you ever have a circumstance where you’re interacting with someone, maybe kind of in passing and they say something to you and you don’t quite catch it, or they say something to you that you don’t want to have heard but you kind of need to say something? You ever have that at all?
LEVITT: Yeah, all the time.
DUBNER: All right, so here’s what you say. You ready? You might want to write it down.
DUBNER: You say, “reebusacassafram.” Let me hear you say that.
LEVITT: Say it one more time.
LEVITT: Reebus Acassafram?
DUBNER: More like one word. Reebusacassafram.
DUBNER: Good. Right. So, that is a phrase that was invented that was by some genius. I don’t know who. I do know where I learned to say this was from the former dean of students at Darmouth and he was always getting in these conversations in passing where he had to have the response but he had no idea what the person was talking about. It might have been talking about a relative of yours or a former encounter. I could see you using this a lot. And you want to say something on your way out, you don’t want to be rude but you have no idea what the response is. If you say “reebusacassafram,” the human ear will interpret that in one of a hundred different ways and they will almost certainly think that you actually said something real when you didn’t.
That’s a Great Question! (Ep. 192 Rebroadcast)
Verbal tic or strategic rejoinder? Whatever the case: it’s rare to come across an interview these days where at least one question isn’t a “great” one.