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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Revision as of 13:31, 8 August 2012

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki! We already have 11 comic explanations!

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(1) That shopping cart is full of AirHeads, and (2) I died at 41 from what the AirHeads company spokesperson called 'probably natural causes.'
Title text: (1) That shopping cart is full of AirHeads, and (2) I died at 41 from what the AirHeads company spokesperson called 'probably natural causes.'


In this comic, Cueball performs several mundane adult tasks, namely shopping for groceries, buying furniture, and applying for a mortgage. In each instance thought bubbles show his apparent surprise or bemusement at the fact that he is behaving like an adult.

In the last panel Megan is reading Cueball's will. Instead of containing standard language, its expresses Cueball's feelings at the fact that he was actually creating a will. This is such an adult thing to do, that Cueballs mind boggles and he cannot believe he is doing so. As is sadly revealed in the title text, Megan reads this to his family because Cueball died early, but when he wrote it (no later than about 40 years of age per the title text), he probably did not envision that it was needed any time soon, and thus also explains why he cannot believe he is writing a will already.

Randall frequently addresses the issue of growing up and being expected to be an adult, despite still seeing oneself as a child in many ways. In this strip, Cueball finds himself performing tasks that he's used to thinking of as things that grown-ups have to worry about, from shopping for food to preparing for one's own death. In each case, he treats the situation as if he were a child suddenly finding himself taking on adult responsibility, which seems to be how he sees himself.

Randall also frequently addresses the issue of finding oneself in adulthood, despite feeling unprepared and immature. In some, he points out that this can be freeing, because it allows us the power to redefine adulthood on our own terms (see 150: Grownups and 219: Blanket Fort). In others (as in this case), he addresses the surprise that comes with realizing that adult responsibilities belong to you, and fear about his ability to handle them (see 905: Homeownership and 616: Lease).

In the title text we learn that the shopping cart is filled with AirHeads, a tangy, taffy-like, chewy candy, predominantly known for its sweet taste and texture. The title text thus suggests that Cueball still retains some more childish instincts, namely using the freedom of adulthood to indulge in AirHead candies, to fatal consequences, explaining why they already read out his will in front of his family in the last panel. It also suggests that the candy company would be quick to portray that death as "natural causes", to downplay the involvement of their product in someone's death.

Randall has previously made a comic displaying what happened to him when he suddenly was able to freely make or buy the kind of food his parents would have limited his access to in 418: Stove Ownership, where it was bacon in the comic and Frosting (or icing) in the title text.


[Cueball is holding onto a shopping cart more than half filled with items looking quite similar. Above his head is a large thought bubble.]
Cueball (thinking): Haha, look at me grocery shopping! I'm such an adult.
[Cueball is standing, arms in his sides, in front of a sofa with a price tag. He is thinking again, this time the frame of the panel is the lower part of the thought bubble, as there is no frame around the text in the "bubble".]
Cueball (thinking): Buying a sofa! Ooh, look how domestic I am!
[Cueball is sitting in an office chair. at a desk, leaning in over it while writing something. The desk is filled with office items, and on the opposite side of the desk sits a man with a wisp of hair in another office chair. Cueball is thinking again with the text in a large thought bubble above their heads.]
Cueball (thinking): Applying for a mortgage! As if I'm a real grown-up.
[Megan is reading out loud from a piece of paper, while standing in front of a long table, where Hairbun, Hairy, and White Hat are sitting. White hat sits at the end of the table in an office chair.]
Megan: ...And I, being of sound mind and body, am totally writing a will right now!
Megan: Can you believe this?

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