The Chopsticks Mystery©
January, 2002

Opening Clues - While messing around with chopsticks Mr. Portada decided it was time to call his lawyer.

The Mystery Question - What happened to Mr. Portada?

Below are the questions and answers. Questions are in the order asked, preceded by the asker's initials. Answers are in red.

There are 8 KEY Facts in the Mystery.

  • XH - Was Mr. Portada using the chopsticks in the normal way (to eat food?) (Nope.) Did using the chopsticks suddenly give him the answer to some problem he'd been thinking about? (The word "using" makes it difficult to answer this question. If you remove it from your question, the answer is Yes.) Did he want to call his lawyer in his legal capacity? (Yes.) Or because the food was good and he wanted to invite his (lawyer) friend over? (Nice, but No.)
  • CH - Did Mr. Portada want to apply for a patent and needed his lawyers advice? (Now that is a wild guess, and not even close :), or did he finally figure out how to get rich and famous by suing the chopstick manufacturer for torts and punitive damages as a result of getting hurt? (Spoken like a law school prof -- NO!) or did he want to market a new, more inventive form of chopsticks? (Nope.)
  • XH - Is the significance of the chopsticks to do with: their appearance (because they resemble something else)? (No.) Their use (for example Oriental stuff, restaurants)? (Nope.) Or, maybe a previous encounter involving chopsticks? (Not really.) Does he want his lawyer to defend him? (No.) or to prosecute someone? (Now here is a real test of your legal brain cells - No to this one, too.) Is the other party involved (in the legal challenge) a person? (Yes.) an organization? (No.)
  • PF - Was he playing the piano? (Yes.) Was he a piano teacher? (No.) Student? (No.) Did he have a terrible teacher? (No.) Suing him/her? (No.) Had he been injured? (Mentally.) Was the piano out of tune? (YES!!! KEY fact #5!) Was Mr. P mentally injured? (Yes.) Suffering mental anguish? (Yes.) As a result of the out of tune piano? (No.) Was he a concert pianist? (No.) Was a family member involved in the dispute? (Yes.) Was it someone in his immediate family? (Yes.) Was the legal issue connected to his piano playing? (Not to Mr. P's playing.) To the piano? (Indirectly related.) Was the piano out of tune as the result of someone's abuse? neglect? (The cause of the "out-of-tuneness" is not important.)
  • CM - Was "Chopsticks" the traditional fooling-around-on-the-piano tune? (If so - thanks PF!) (YES!! KEY Fact #4!) Was Mrs. Portada supposed to get the piano tuned and failed to do so? (Negative.) Did Mr. Portada decide to get a divorce because the piano was out of tune? (The specific answer to this very specific question is No, but ...) Was Mrs. Portada a lawyer? (No.)
  • CH - Did the untuned piano put Mr. P. in misery? (Not important.) Was that the reason why he sought legal counsel? (Nope.) Was Mr. P a professional pianist? (No.) Did he lose his job because of the piano not being in tune? (Nope.) Did Mr. P want to buy a new piano and return the old one? (No.) Was a family member responsible for the fact that the piano was not in tune? (Not important.) Is the legal challenge or the trouble of Mr. P a result of or related to the piano? (Indirectly related.) or the piano not being in tune? (No.)
  • DD - Is Mr. Portada a lawyer ? (No.) Is the name Portada significant ? (Nope.) Was there something special/different about the chopsticks a.k.a Were the chopsticks unusual ? (Yes.) Did he do a crime? (None at all.) Were there other people in the room? (No.) Did he use something else besides chopsticks? (No.) Was it night? Was it day? Was it morning? (Not important.) Did messing around with chopsticks remind him of something? (Not really.) Did he break any chopsticks? (No.) Was his lawyer a friend of his? (Not important.) Did he decide to call his lawyer to asking for help? / or just to chat? (Asking for help.)
  • PF - Was Mr. P divorced? (Not yet!) Is this relevant to the mystery? (Yup.) If divorced, did his ex-wife want the piano? (Not important.) Had she made it go out of tune? (The cause of the un-tuning is not important.) Had her lawyer contacted Mr. P? his lawyer? (No lawyers had contacted Mr. P) Did he decide--the sudden decision--to sue her for mental anguish? (Not for mental anguish.) Was contacting the lawyer the result of action by his ex-wife? (For sure!!) Had Mr. P gone deaf (a la Beethoven!!)? (Nope.)
  • CH - Did Mr. P. seek a restraining order against his wife? (No.) a restraining order in terms of her not playing the piano anymore because it drove him insane, particularly as it was not in tune? (Creative ... but wrong.) Did Mr. P. inquire about a post-nob or an amendment to his pre-nob? (If you mean pre/post nuptials, the answer is no. If you mean something else, I haven't a clue :) Is Mr. P in trouble with his wife ("Trouble" is the wrong word. There is a problem between Mr. P and Annette.), parents, cousins, uncle, brother or sister? (No.) Are they fighting/arguing over the piano, whether it can be tuned or not? (Negative.)
  • DD - Did Mr. P realize how to solve some crime? (No.) Was there a crime at all whatsoever? (A wrong doing, but not a crime.) Was the lawyer also a pianist? (No.) Did he have another job? (The lawyer? - No.) Is the fact Mr. P was injured very important? (Mr. P was "injured" in the legal sense of the word, and that is important.) Were the chopsticks some not normal type of chopsticks? (They were not normal, eating chopsticks.) If so were they used to tune the piano? (No.) Is the part of the problem - "decided it was time" - really important? (No.) If so did he look at the clock? (No.) Chopstick was a tune? (Yes.) So while he was playing the tune he got upset? (Yes!!) Which made him think of something so he decided that it was not fair and called his lawyer? (Yes.!!)
  • PF - Was Mr. P a composer? Was he a piano tuner? (Neither.)
  • CH - Is the tune "Chopsticks" a made up tune or an actual tune that can be looked up? (Actual tune.) Are there words or is the music by itself important? (No words that we know of. The tune is not important.) is there a link to what Mr. P. was thinking about? (None.) Is the piano an actual piano? (Yes.) does "piano" stand for something else? or is it a metaphor? (It is a real piano.) In any case did Mr. P. play the piano with A. (He played it alone.) and is the piano out of tune because he is divorcing her? (It is out of tune, but that is not the cause of the divorce.) Did A. do something to the piano, if the piano is an actual piano? (It is. She did not.) Is the lawyerly representation part of a negotiation or the beginning of the divorce? (The latter.) Does A. still live with Mr. P.? (Yes.) Does A. know the "Chopsticks" tune? (Probably, but it isn't important.) And the meaning or influence it could have on Mr. P's decision to go to a lawyer? (The tune isn't important. It only served to allow Mr. P to discover the out-of-tuneness of the piano.) Does "Chopsticks" stand for a "choppy" relationship between A and P? (Cute! Wrong, but cute!) Could P be represented by someone else or other than a lawyer? Is the knowledge and skill of a lawyer essential for Mr. P's troubles? (The lawyer's role in this Mystery is only to assist with divorce proceedings.)
  • DD - Did he get upset about the bad "voice" of the piano ? (No.) Is there another person in this mystery (character)? (Yes.) Was there anyone who was supposed to tune the piano? (No.) Was Mr. P injured recently? (Yes - mental anguish.) Was he injured a long time ago? (Repeatedly over the past 6 months.) Did he get injured while playing the piano? (Not while he played the piano.) Was he any good at playing the piano? (No.) Is the fact that he was good/bad at piano important? (No.) Is the occupation (where he worked) of Mr. P important? (No.) Does age matter? (Not really.)
  • CM - Did Mr. P. want his lawyer to file for divorce for him (Mr. P?) (Yes, indeed!!) Was there something wrong with the piano to cause it to play out of tune? (No, it simply hadn't been tuned for a while.) Did Mrs. P. do something to the piano? (No.) Was this a regular piano? (Yes.) Or an electronic keyboard? (No.) Was Mrs. P. having an affair with a pianist or other musician? (BINGO - YES!! KEY Fact#1)
  • CH - Did Mr. P know the pianist A had an affair with? (Yes, Mr. P knew him. It is true that he was a pianist, and...?) Did Mr. P realize that A. had an affair with the pianist because the piano was out of tune? (The "out-of-tuneness" was one clue.) Does A play the piano at all (YES!) and if so, did Mr. P realize she had an affair because it was out of tune, not played for a while? (This was one clue.) Did he realize that A. had an affair while he was playing the piano? (Yes.) Did he realize that not only his piano but also his life was out of tune? (Yes, but don't pursue this metaphor.) Was the pianist A's piano teacher? (YES!! - KEY Fact #2) And if so, did Mr. P realize that if the piano was out of tune, A did not really study the piano but must have been with the teacher for a different reason, namely her affair? (YES, and very close to KEY Fact #3)
    LM - Was A. having an affair with a piano tuner?
    (Not a piano "tuner.") Is Mr. P a musician (No.) and therefore able to discern the piano was out of tune? (He could tell, even though he wasn't a musician.) Was the piano in Mr. P's residence? (YES!) Was Mr. P someplace where the piano was (He was at the piano.) And suddenly aware of its being out of tune affirmed his mental anguish? (The "out-of-tuneness" was one affirmation of his mental anguish.) Is A. a musician (Yes.) And therefore would not have put up with an out of tune piano? (She would not.) Did Mr. P finally get a divorce from A. (Unknown, but not important.)
  • CH - While playing the piano, did Mr. P. realize that A must have practiced her music somewhere else and not at home or on her own piano? (Quite the opposite.) Did he realize that no piano teacher would have put up with a piano out of tune? and, (Yes.) therefore, no piano teacher was ever at their house (Wrong!) to supervise A's practice or teach her how to play? (Wrong.)
  • XH - Surely no self-respecting piano teacher would teach on an out-of-tune piano - is this the proof that Mr. Portada needed, to show that his wife was receiving lessons in something other than piano playing? (Yes. Close enough for - KEY Fact #3. But, this was not the only proof.) Is there something wrong with the piano mechanism? (No.) Is there perhaps something hidden inside the piano? (YES!! Part of KEY Fact #6) Or has the piano been mistreated, (No.) in the sense that it's been lain on... or used for some other kinky purpose?!! (Probably :)
  • DD - Did the fact that the piano was untuned remind him of the affair? (Remind - No. Alert - Yes.) Or did he realize it was an affair while playing this particular time? (He realized while playing this time.) Was he playing the piano and then he discovered that the piano was out of tune? (Yes.) Then he realized that the last time he played it, it was not? (No.) And because of this (Nope.) he realized the other pianist or musician (Neither), had an affair with his wife? So he got upset about it? And called his lawyer for a divorce? (He did call about a divorce, but something else tipped him off.) His injury is because of an accident (car, bike physical)? Or mental? (Mental.)
  • DD - Did Mr. P realize the piano was out of tune, so he looked inside it? (Yes.) To check what was in there? (To see what was wrong.) Did he find clothes in there? (Not clothes.) If so did they belong to A/Teacher? (What he found did belong to Annette and/or the teacher.) Did he find a personal belongings of A/Teacher? (If you mean "intimate" belongings of a sexual nature - NO!!!) Does the fact Mr. P was mentally injured very important in the mystery? (Only that he now wanted a divorce.)
  • CM - Was the piano an upright? A grand or baby grand? (It was a grand piano.) Did Mr. P. find a pencil? A pen? A piece of paper of some kind? If so, was it music?, a personal note?, a diary?, a date book or reminder? a phone number? Some kind of identification? A driver's license? A Social Security card? (None of the preceding.) Did the item he found belong to Annette? to the piano teacher? (Both.) If it wasn't clothing, was it something personal, although not intimate? (The concensus here is that it would not be called a "personal" item.) Was it a wallet or purse? Was it keys? (Not piano - the other kind!) Was it a handkerchief?, a hair ornament? (None of these.) Was the cat inside the piano? (Nope.)
  • LM - Did Mr. P find correspondence ( letters) in the piano? (Negative.) Did the correspondence (letters) reveal A and her piano teacher were going away together? (Ditto.) Did Mr. P find something that he thought could cause him bodily harm? (Nope.)
  • DD - Is the thing he found in the piano bigger than a keyboard? (No.) Is the thing in the piano making the piano out of tune? (No.) Was it making noise? (Not at the time.) Was it a cell phone? (No.) Was it on the strings/under the strings/all the other parts of the piano/or is it irrelevant? (Irrelevant.) Was there something inside the thing that was inside the piano? (YES!!) Was it a piece of information? (Nope.) Was it informative? (YES!!) Is the thing in the piano hard/soft? (Hard.) Was it a part of something that A and the teacher studied? (It was related.) Was it used for its original purpose? (Yes.) Was it a tape recorder? (No.) Or maybe a tape? (No.) Or a recorder of some kind? (YES!! It was a CD player. KEY Fact #6) Did Mr. P suspect the affair before? (Yes.) And if so did he have the proof now? (Yes!) And if so he…. Having the proof in front of him decided to call his lawyer? (Yes! But you need to be more specific about what he had.)

    The next question solved the Chopsticks Mystery!!

    To Solution

    ©The Chopsticks Mystery, Don Fitzmahan, 2002 / Minute Mystery is trademarked by Don Fitzmahan.