Applying instructions to turn entries into questions – by mentally adding an interrogative inflection – made the joke click for me. Re-reading 20A as a question, for example, made me imagine a server in a restaurant offering guests a drink, and asking, “Mineral water?” In response, a fictitious restaurant patron, who is not a fan of these things, might reply, “Well, actually.” As in, “I prefer good water, indeed.”
The same server may then ask how the patron prefers the steak: “MEDIUM RARE?” To which the patron might reply, “Well, actually,” which here can be interpreted to mean: “My best steak, actually.” And to finish the meal, the server might ask the patron (now full of good water, well-cooked steak and looking a bit agitated), “Are you worried?” To which the patron might reply, “Well, actually.”
I must point out that this restaurant scene has completely played in my head. Thank you, Mrs. Laurie, for this hilarious reinterpretation of a phrase usually associated with a caring tone and an unpopular interpretation. Let’s hear from her about inspiration.
“Well, actually…” is a pedant’s favorite opening phrase, and probably some puzzle writers/trivia buffs (ironically of course) as well. Occupational hazard, right? It has already become a verb, as in, “I’ve actually done Andre 3000, showing that the Polaroid image doesn’t require shaking.” So I focused on the phrase and thought about the questions you could answer while maintaining its status as a phrase used to correct someone. Then, I just had to make them approach the questions logically. By the way, I fully expect anyone commenting on this puzzle will find a way to “well actually”, so I’m shoving myself…
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