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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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En Garde
'Touch!' 'Nope, I sighed and stared at you with resignation, so I regained emotional right-of-way.'
Title text: 'Touch!' 'Nope, I sighed and stared at you with resignation, so I regained emotional right-of-way.'

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: How guarded is Cueball really?
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

The left participant says "en garde!", a fencing call literally meaning "be on your guard" (from French). The call is used to order the participants to take their position, in a similar way to the “on your mark” command in racing (the other two commands are “((tireurs,) êtes-vous) prêts?” (“((combattants,) are you) ready?”) and “allez” (“go”)). The right participant takes this to mean being "guarded" emotionally.

"What are you thinking?" is a common question used to deepen a conversation, typically between close friends or lovers. The person being asked may take a moment to consider what they are thinking and whether or not it would be appropriate to share with the asker. If the person being asked is emotionally comfortable with the asker, they may answer immediately without fear of judgement or ridicule. Such a level of comfort between two people generally takes a long time to develop.

The title text takes this further with the "touch" call, used to indicate to a participant that they have been "touched" by their opponent's blade, and therefore the attacker recieves a point. The right participant counters this claim by saying his emotions have "priority" (or right-of-way). Fencing right-of-way rules can make a move invalid when another move has priority, but generally refer to physical actions on the participant's part.

Transcript

[Two fencers are standing together as if to fight]

Fencer 1: En Garde!
Fencer 2: Ok.
Fencer 2: No matter how long we know each other, when you ask "What are you thinking," I will always pause before answering.
Fencer 1: Maybe a little less guarded?
Fencer 2: No way. I've been hurt before.



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