Cryptic Messages

May 22, 1999

RAY: Ha! We're back. You're listening to Car Talk with us, Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, and we're here to discuss cars, car repair and the new Puzzler.

TOM: I can hardly wait.

RAY: I don't know who sent this in, but here it is. And it went like this. When I was in school, our teacher had the habit of putting little cryptic messages on the blackboard. And one day--it was near the end of the school year--she wrote the following thing on the board.

TOM: Do I need a pencil for this?

RAY: You need a pencil.

TOM: OK, go ahead!

RAY: E I L N P U.

TOM: Huh?

RAY: And the only...the hint I'll give is that it was near the end of the school year.

TOM: E I L N P U.

RAY: There you go. Our teacher had the habit of putting little cryptic little messages on the blackboard, and one day she puts up the following little message for us. Don't forget, there are hints all over the place, so you've got to pay attention.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: And here's the message: E I L N P U. In that order. And the hint is: it was near the end of the school year.

TOM: End of the school year.

RAY: End of the school year.

TOM: End of the school year.

RAY: How many times do you want me to say, it was the end of the school year!

RAY: I guess you didn't like the hint? I don't think. And at the end of the school year, what's often done is some kind of graduation photographs are taken, and so that they can figure out whose picture goes with what name, they ask the kids to line up in alphabetical order. That's what E-I-L-N-P...well, it was the only hint that I could give that wouldn't have given it away.

TOM: Well, no, if you had said they were going to take a picture, that would have been a real hint!

RAY: That would have been too easy!

TOM: Ah, the idea.

RAY: In my never-ending quest to complicate and obfuscate, I felt that that was good enough.

TOM: Well, we got a winner! The winner is James Dawson from Dawson's Creek! No, from Crane, Texas.