Three Wise Guys: Origin of "Flea Market," Fish on one of Saturn's Moons, Burn-Free Palms

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Dear Wise Guys:

You guys are the best. My husband and I listen to your show every morning.

My husband has a question for you. As usual, without a doubt, we know that one of you guys will come up with the right answer. Why do we call a flea market a flea market?


Joe: Some say it's because everything being sold is probably flea-infested. Another is that you should flee before buying anything. But enough about that. I just want to thank you for listening to our show every day. Wait . . . what show?

Justin: Uh, nothing, Joe.

Dan: We should probably tell him.

Justin: Should we?

Dan: We should. Joe, we've had a radio show for some time now. The affiliate asked that Justin and I handle the calls. They think that while you have a face for radio, you don't have a voice for it.

Joe: This all sounds fishy to me. And speaking of fishy . . .

Dear Wise Guys:

I've read that Saturn's moon Enceladus may harbor life and possibly even fish. I've always liked to try new things. When do you think that NASA will bring some back for us to eat?


Joe: With all the concern about fish from Mercury being bad for you, I'm not sure I'd trust fish from any other planets, either. That said, I've heard the enchiladas from Enceladus are out of this world.

Dan: No, dillweed. Mercury in fish is bad. Fish from Enceladus are likely to be extra scaley, given the moon's name, which comes from a dragonlike giant from Greek mythology who is responsible for all the earthquakes that happen today.

Justin: I wanted to laugh at this question, but at the rate we are cleaning out our own oceans, fish from outer space won't seem so unreasonable for long.

Dan: Don't try to baffle us with your crypto-eco-socialist garbage.

Joe: You guys are venturing into extremist political commentary. Save it for your imaginary radio show.

Dear Wise Guys:

I just returned from two glorious weeks at the beach, where I observed most every part of the human anatomy sunburned to a lobster red, with one exception: the palms of hands. What gives? Is the human palm made of some super burn-free type of skin?


Dan: No, the palms are burnable. We just don't lie down or walk around with them facing the sun. At least, this is our educated guess. To confirm, we dialed Washington dermatologist Sandra Read, who basically said -- and I'm paraphrasing wildly here -- "Duh."

We also called Lynn McKinley-Grant, a dermatologist in Chevy Chase. She said the skin on the palms is thicker, which makes palms more resistant to burning and results in fewer skin cells that produce pigment. This makes them less likely to get color than other parts of the body.

That said, both doctors have patients who come in with burned and blistered palms and soles. Which doesn't make sense, because aren't we applying sunscreen with our palms? Therefore, shouldn't they be the most protected part of the body? Am I the first person to make this connection? It is lonely in this tower of brilliance.

Joe: You put on your own sunscreen? I have people to do that for me.

Dan: How much do you give Justin for that?

Joe: He pays me.

Have a question only the Three Wise Guys can answer? Send it to and await their words of wise-dom.


It's contest time, kittens. The Three Wise Guys need a motto. A tag line, if you will. A mantra. Something with which to brand our wisdom. Like, "Wiser Than Your Average Journalist" or "Three Geniuses in a Pod (With Great Bods)" or "There but for the Grace of God Go They (Them?)" Okay, come up with something better.

E-mail your suggestion (as well as any questions you need answered) to by Friday and put "motto" in the subject line. We'll pick our favorite. The submitter will receive a guest spot in a future column. Friends and family of the Wise Guys are permitted to participate, as are felons and children under 18 but over 3.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company