1139: Rubber and Glue

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Rubber and Glue
I'm rubber. You're rubber. We contemplate the reality of our existence in mute, vulcanized horror.
Title text: I'm rubber. You're rubber. We contemplate the reality of our existence in mute, vulcanized horror.


"I'm rubber, you're glue; whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you" is a school-ground retort used by children to suggest that one's insults are being ignored by the intended recipient of the insult and counter that the insult rather refers to the insulter. On a deeper level, it may imply that a person insulting others is an indication of their own insecurity and weakness.

In this comic, a young Black Hat is reading a chemistry and physics handbook, which leads to a literal and graphic visualization of the phrase. He uses the retort to frighten the children bullying him (young versions of Hairy and Cueball). Black Hat takes the traditional saying and twists it into a creepy thought by saying that they are both literally glue and rubber and that they are permanently stuck together, which scares Hairy and Cueball and prompts one of them (probably Hairy) to call for their mother.

The book is the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. It is also nicknamed the 'Rubber Bible' or the 'Rubber Book', as CRC originally stood for "Chemical Rubber Company".

The title text says that I (meaning him) and you (Hairy and Cueball, although it could possibly be the reader) are both rubber. Rubber is not a living object, so it is stuck in "vulcanized horror" in the position it was sculpted in. This could be a reference to how powerless we are in the changing of the world. Alternatively, "I" could be Randall, and "you" could be the reader.

Additionally, two pieces of suitably treated vulcanized rubber, e.g. in applying a puncture-repair patch as part of dealing with a damaged bicycle inner-tube, will form molecular cross-bonds and ensure strong bonding between the two original items that has an integrity comparable to that of the original undamaged tubing. As a threat, it implies forcible conjoining, an existential threat to the target's individuality.

Young Black Hat also taunts young Hairy later in 1753: Thumb War.


[Playground. Jill is balancing on a swing, two Cueball-like kids are swinging and two more kids, a young Cueball and a young Hairy are approaching a reading young Black Hat, whose hat is almost too big for his small head.]
Hairy: Whatchya reading, Hatboy?
Black Hat: The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.
Cueball: You are such a loser, it's painful.
Black Hat: I'm rubber, you're glue.
[In a frame-less panel Hairy and Cueball looks down on Black Hat sitting with his book in his lap on the ground between them. He looks back up over his shoulder at Hairy.]
Hairy: Yeah, well—
Black Hat: Glue can't speak.
Black Hat: You try to scream, but your mouth fills with glue.
Black Hat: Your face is glue. Your body is glue.
[Black Hat has left the book on the ground behind him and has risen. Hairy and Cueball is now together to the right and Black Hat advances towards them arms stretched out. Hairy steps backwards away from him.]
Black Hat: I wrap my rubber arms around your sticky bulk.
Black Hat: Your neoprene base bonds instantly with my surface.
Black Hat: Never to let go.
[Zoom in on Black Hat's head. He is holding his arms up in front of him clapping them together. Hairy shouts from off panel.]
Black Hat: You are glue. I am rubber.
Black Hat: Staring at you with my dead, rubber eyes-
Black Hat: Forever.
Hairy (off-panel): Moooom!

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I am not a native speaker, but after some research, I found that rubber/glue refers to the rhyme "I am rubber, you are glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you." If that's true, the current explanation that the topos is meant "to imply that insults of another person are an indication of their own insecurity and weakness" is just plain wrong. BKA (talk) 15:51, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

  • It's really not wrong, it's just a clarification. Jimmy C (talk) 19:43, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
"Which bounces off me and sticks to you" is not meant in the literal sense. The sticks to you portion typically means that the recipient of the insult is implying that the sender is calling out other people by names that apply to themselves. Davidy22(talk) 00:22, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
It's basically "I know you are, but what am I?" with different words. 05:38, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

The in-joke here is presumably that CRC stands (or stood?) for the Chemical Rubber Company, and the handbook - found in many a physics and chemistry lab - is often referred to as the "Rubber Bible". 16:07, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

Of note is probably that the book young black hat is reading is known as the "Rubber Bible". From wikipedia: The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics is in its 93rd edition. It is sometimes nicknamed the 'Rubber Bible' or the 'Rubber Book', as CRC originally stood for "Chemical Rubber Company". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CRC_Handbook_of_Chemistry_and_Physics

As an aside, this is the first time Black Hat has ever been referred to by a name of any kind. Should we consider calling him "Hatman" now? --Jimmy C (talk) 19:43, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

The transcript calls him Black Hat. Hatboy is only what the bullies were calling him in an effort to make fun of him. Erenan (talk) 20:22, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Is it just me or does this appear to be a flashback to Black Hat's youth? --Jeff (talk) 23:03, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
The size of their heads would make it appear to be so. We could probably approximate his age in the comic from the proportional size of his head to the rest of his body. Davidy22(talk) 03:48, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
And also the hat is way too big for him! :) --St.nerol (talk) 16:23, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

There ought to be a name for the mind games that children use to abuse each other. The "rubber /glue" phrase, for instance, makes no sense ate all, but among children acts as a real restriction on discourse, a kind of bard curse that ties up the recipient in confusion. I was delighted to see the phrase turned around like this. Yay black hat! 14:22, 27 November 2012 (UTC) Noni Mausa, (away from home and don't have my log-in, sorry)

Just as an entertaining comment, Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory uses a form of this insult as such: "I'm polymerized tree sap and you're an inorganic adhesive, so whatever verbal projectile you launch in my direction is reflected off of me, returns on its original trajectory and adheres to you." --Joehammer79 (talk) 14:47, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

I can't help but wonder whether this is a reference to cuil theory. His phrasing is very similar to some of the higher-cuil paragraphs in the original explanation, with the mention of being unable to scream and whatnot. --nobody important

The translator of the spanish version of the Monkey Island video game did not know this expression and translated it as 'Yo soy cola, tú pegamento', which doesn't have any comprehensible meaning. It's considered a geek cult mistranslation, kind of a spanish version of what "All your base are belong to us" is in English. -- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Link for those of you that need more information, open up "Adventure Game". lcarsos_a (talk) 18:09, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

The words black hat uses to terrorize the bullies reminded me of Harlan Ellison's famous horror sci-fi short story "I have no mouth and I must scream":

I will describe myself as I see myself: I am a great soft jelly thing. Smoothly rounded, with no mouth, with pulsing white holes filled by fog where my eyes used to be. Rubbery appendages that were once my arms; bulks rounding down into legless humps of soft slippery matter. I leave a moist trail when I move. Blotches of diseased, evil gray come and go on my surface, as though light is being beamed from within. Outwardly: dumbly, I shamble about, a thing that could never have been known as human, a thing whose shape is so alien a travesty that humanity becomes more obscene for the vague resemblance. Inwardly: alone. Here. [..snip..] I have no mouth. And I must scream. --unsigned
Which is also a pretty awesome adventure game

"frighten the children bullying him, into calling for their mothers" Hmm. It seems to me that 'moooom!' is the kind of incoherent noise that one would make if your mouth were actually full of glue. Seriously, try it. Fill your mouth with - say - banana - then hold your lips together and try to say something. Has Baby Blackhat found a way to literally fill his tormentor's mouth with glue? Maybe? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

No. Calling for parent makes considerably more sense. -Pennpenn 05:30, 12 April 2016 (UTC)

I see it as proof there is a god. After insulting the scientists on uk.sci.weather for not realising that their branch and all such branches of science are totally subjective in their nature (think Einstein) then calling me out and insisting my work is subjective and for teaching each other to ignore me as a fantasist; I ended up last night regretting calling them a bunch of dildoes just because they are all, without exception -and completely inexcusably, dildoes, I ended up making a complete hash of my forecasts. An unforgivably stupid error showing my lack of objectivity and ability to check my stuff.

This morning,still feeling foolish, I was thinking how the prophet Daniel would have handled things in the days before he became Chief Magic Practitioner for all of the Babylonian and then Persian Empires: Daniel 4:25 and Daniel 2:14 It's the "wisdom and tact" bit I need to work on.

Also my reading skills concerning interpretation could use some glasses; I thought the name of the book Blackhat was reading was the "Orc handbook of chemistry and physics". Doh! (But it works like that though, too.) I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 07:37, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

What the cherry flavoured hell are you talking about? -Pennpenn 05:30, 12 April 2016 (UTC)

Can we rename Black Hat "Hatboy"? 14:40, 13 October 2016 (UTC)

"Young Black Hat was mentioned later in 1753: Thumb War" was what I just read. My OCD mind immediately turned to the problem (there's no period) and fixed it. --JayRulesXKCD (talk) 16:03, 31 October 2016 (UTC)

I fixed the incomplete sections of the comic by removing the incomplete tag, mentioned the title text, and went into greater detail with Black Hat's taunt. --JayRulesXKCD (talk) 12:51, 2 November 2016 (UTC)

I love Black Hat's chaos theory so bad. 21:20, 29 January 2024 (UTC)