Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Cueball becomes introspective when contemplating the sea. The straightforward reading of "how small I really am" means he feels humbled by the sea and recognizes his insignificance on this planet. This is a common sentiment expressed in poetry, literature, and blogs.
However, in English the sentences I'm small and I'm big can also mean my penis is small and my penis is big.
The final line "I should get one of those pumps" references a penis pump, a device that is alleged to permanently increase the size of the male member. Anybody with access to the internet or an email account is continually bombarded with spam messages and advertisements for penis enlargement products, all of which work about as well as you would expect. That is, not at all.
Even if Cueball is not literally saying that he has a small penis, men very commonly associate their own self image with the size of their organ. Therefore, enlarging it would improve his self image and make him feel less small.
The title text suggests another straightforward way to read the word pump. Namely as a water pump to drain the ocean. Cueball is unsatisfied with the sea intimidating him, and is turning his attention to "putting the sea in its place". Of course this is impossible as the only place on Earth that will hold all that water is the sea itself. There's a bit of subversive humor in the title text since many people will think "water pump" before "penis pump"; by specifying that the first pump is not for the sea, Randall is ensuring everyone gets the full joke.
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- [Cueball stands on a beach at night, staring out across the moonlit ocean.]
- Cueball: The sea always makes me realize
- Cueball: How small I really am.
- Cueball: I should get one of those pumps.
Umm...before changing the page shouldn't there be some discussion here? There was a bunch of other stuff that got deleted. 184.108.40.206 03:22, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
- Justification of "male enhancement" theory
DGBert wrote that there's no justification for the idea of the first pump being a penis-enlarging pump. What other theory do you have about (a) a pump, that (b) makes someone larger and (c) improves their self-image?
- If you have any hints not only coming from your own brain you are welcome. This wiki is "Explain" and not "Speculate". --Dgbrt (talk) 17:59, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
(Do we have Word Of God about this or many other 'Explanations'? An awful lot of this Wiki is speculation, without it.) Personally, while the first pump could be either kind of pump, the title text asking for another in order to drain the sea means that the first (regardless of which way one's mind snaps, on reading) was not intended to be a sea-draining pump. Randall also often does something akin to "one-lead-element Markov Chaining", and "how small I am" leading to a penis pump fits his sense of absurdist humour. Even if it isn't initially that, it's still akin to being a Garden path sentence (only more of a disfluent paragraph version) when parsing. All IMO. YMMV. HTH. HAND.
220.127.116.11 13:40, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
- Totally agree with "male enhancement" explanation
The previous explanation (last edited by Dgbrt) was:
In this comic, Cueball compares himself to a very large sea and realizes how small he is. The initial implication is that this causes him to be humble and realize his small place on the planet -- a common sentiment expressed in poetry and blogs.
The punchline "I should get one of those pumps" induces humor by reversing the expectation: as he thinks about how small he is compared to the sea, he starts wanting to buy a pump, presumably take out the sea water so the sea could be smaller and not so much a threat to his self-image anymore. It shows that he really hasn't learned anything and is still egotistical.
The title text creates additional humor by reversing the expectation yet again, by saying that he wanted another pump to drain the sea, meaning that the purpose of the first pump was not to drain the sea. This leads the reader to ponder what possible use the first pump was to have, and how it was going to make him bigger.
This, to me, felt weak, was overly complex, and ignored what seems a painfully obvious point. The number of "male enhancement" products being marketed by junk-mail at the time was a frequent source of humour, and something that anyone with an e-mail account (and a poor junk-mail filter) dealt with on a frequent basis. Ref: Trends on Male Enhancement
Note, the line is: "... one of those pumps." This wording indicates that Randall is referring to something that he expects the reader to realize is topical. If he meant a generic pump, he would NOT have used the keyword "those". People ignorant of the junk mail of the day, and the function of penis pumps, would understandably not get the joke.
MisterSpike (talk) 10:16, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
- Totally agree with previous explanation. Undee (talk) 12:01, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
- A question for Dgbrt
Did you know that in English the sentences I'm small and I'm big sometimes mean my penis is small and my penis is big? 18.104.22.168 13:44, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
- I seriously take issue with that statement as well - I suggest using "can also mean" rather than "mean" or "sometimes mean" Brettpeirce (talk) 13:55, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
- A question to me (Dgbrt)
This explain should be discussed with Randall. This comic doesn't belong to SEX, most man don't use a "Penis Pump" because it's nonsense. If Randall did joke about this item we would get a better claim on this. This explain still does not cover the meanings by the author. --Dgbrt (talk) 23:29, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
- I was asking because if you didn't know the meaning of "I'm small" then you obviously didn't think about a penis pump until you came here. People who knew in advance the meaning of "I'm small"" immediately thought of a penis pump. 22.214.171.124 13:05, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
First, I agree that without the tagline, the first thought is about the ocean. I am reminded of the Norse myth about Thor being tricked by the giants to "drink the ocean" in what he thought was a beer (or mead or ale) drinking contest. The phrase to drink the ocean does appear in colloquial english (american).
There are at least two popular cultural allusions here that north american readers would be familiar with. One is the Austin Powers movies. When Austin is unfrozen there is an elaborate scene where they are returning his personal effects and one of them is a swedish penis pump. The scene goes on and on as he tries to deny it. The second thought is an episode from Seinfeld where George goes into the ocean, his bathing trunks fall off and his male member is reduced to the point that his date laughs. The rest of the episode goes includes George trying to convince everyone that he is actually reasonably endowed. His explanation is "shrinkage". I think this second argument might be more compelling if cueball were walking out of the ocean where it is obvious that he is a victim of shrinkage. Without that visual we would have to imagine he is thinking back to a past event. For those readers unfamiliar with the ocean, or male member(s), the effect, I believe is based on cold so would last until core body temperature returned to normal. Your mileage may vary. Mcjoker (talk) 01:13, 19 February 2014 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
The links that direct to tumblr should be labelled NSFW. I do regularly follow the wiki and a select discussions, even at work during breaks(or while the code compiles). They do carry no warning as of now. 126.96.36.199
21:48, 5 March 2014 (UTC)BK201