The comic shows Randall's mother telling Randall that he can have a snack in his room before bed only when his age is "one less than a multiple of three." This means that the child starts getting snacks in his room before bed when he turns 2 years old, then stops getting them when he turns 3. Then he starts again when he turns 5 but stops when he turns 6. This cycle repeats every 3 years, so the kid has the privilege to get snacks in his room before bed when his age is 2, 5, 8, 11, etc. (every 3 years).
It's difficult to defend this policy with a reasonable argument. The first impression is that the mother just made up the rule for some obscure, unknown reason. However, the title text explains that Randall's mother actually enforced this rule on him, and his mother claims that, at the time, there was a valid reason for it (though the reason is not explained in the comic). The caption says that Randall has figured out that his nerdiness as an adult comes (at least in part) from his mother's strange rules.
Note that there is some debate about whether the privilege spoken of is to have snacks, to have snacks in his room, to have snacks before bed, or to have snacks in his room before bed.
- My dad was always the one who taught me about science, but looking back, I'm starting to realize how much my nerdiness was influenced by my mom.
- [A woman and a child talk.]
- Child: Mom, can I have a snack in my room before bed?
- Mom: No, dear. You know you only get that privilege when your age is one less than a multiple of three.
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Hm, how can we know, really, if it's Randall or Cueball speaking? –St.nerol (talk) 20:19, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
It's Randall. I was there. Spotlouise (talk) 16:13, 21 March 2013 (UTC)
- I'm pretty sure that Cueball is basically just an abstraction of Randall. Black Hat, too, at times. Odd that no one seems to notice. Daddy (talk) 15:43, 28 April 2013 (UTC)
- Everyone knows it; it'd be impossible for Randall to not put himself in the comic. However, the title text is always Randalll, so that implies that the stick figure is definitely Randall. 22.214.171.124 00:07, 16 August 2013 (UTC) I should probably join... I'd be able to stop displaying my IP
- The title text is not always Randall. -- Flewk (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- I feel like most of the characters are at least sometimes abstractions of Randall. I mean almost always Cueball is. But I think the other characters can be aspects of him sometimes. Black Hat, Beret Guy, he'll sometimes even White Hat and Megan. Although they usually represent other things, if anything at all. But sometimes. 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Based on the title text Randall had probably just turned 6, so there would be two years until he next could have a snack - and the mother probably believed that he would have forgotten such a rule by then (alas that was clearly not the case... :-) Kynde (talk) 20:27, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
- Or is it ( :-))? 541: TED Talk -- Aronurr (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
As I read it, it isn't that he gets no snacks, it is that he gets no snacks in his rom. 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- Yes, people here keep talking like it's that he doesn't get snacks, but all we know for certain is that he can't have snacks in his rom, before beed. We don't know if this rule applied to other locations or times.— Kazvorpal (talk) 20:15, 6 October 2019 (UTC)
Just a thought, but maybe this rule is based on a measurement of Randall's age in terms of some unit other than years, which would be really nerdy. —CsBlastoise (talk) 18:28, 22 January 2017 (UTC)
Is it possible the obscure logic is related to school exams - perhaps he is 12 and starting Junior High, the previous year having sat an SSAT exam to get. He turned 12 in the October, so would have been studying aged 11 and perhaps allowed to snack in his room as a result. His mum observed that he'll next sit exams for senior high aged 14 and then for undergrad at 17... so can only snack in years he is prepping for exams. (Unlikely that this is the ACTUAL reason for the pattern, but I'll bet it was something of similar spirit, she'd allowed it age 11 and was post-associating it to some other life event so he can do it at 14 and 17 as well). 184.108.40.206 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I asked Randall about this on the How To book tour. He said it's real. The first two times he wore his mom down on this topic, he was 2 and 5. The first time was an exception, the second time she made a rule. Tbodt (talk) 03:00, 13 September 2019 (UTC)