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Oh, Hugh. Perhaps you’ve known someone like my college roommate Hugh. Bright, funny, feisty, argumentative, a bit shady, and utterly incapable of letting anything go. Arguing was like a sport to him and he was never one to turn down a game. Didn’t really matter what the topic was, big or small, important or trivial, he was always ready to debate.

Knowing this, I’d go out of my way to avoid starting anything with him, but one morning we somehow ended up embroiled in an especially inane back-and-forth. I couldn’t take it anymore, and rushed out of our apartment, slamming the door on Hugh’s latest point.

I walked nowhere in particular, the outside gloom and rain matching my dark and swirling mood. Frickin’ Hugh. What’s the point of living with this guy? ALWAYS with the obnoxiousness. But as the rain let up and the clouds parted and the sun came out, my mood softened. He wasn’t that bad, and we did share a love of puzzles and…puzzles.

I headed back to our apartment with the intent of taking the high road and letting everything go, but upon arriving discovered a note taped to the door:

Before I head out, I thought I’d leave you a little clue that’ll help you understand my notes. Despite being wrong on the topic at hand, you do have some brains…when you’re not rotting them playing mediocre FPS video games based on mediocre novels. Here’s your hint:

1A
2B
3B
4B
5A
6B

Good luck. I’m going to get some ice cream with sprinkles to cool down. See you after.
--Hugh
P.S. P not V, doofus!

Notes? Uh-oh. What had Hugh been up to? I warily entered, and sure enough, found six notes for me he'd scattered around the apartment.

I’m going to put it to you gently yet clearly: you’re a big moron. Perhaps even a top-5 moron, if not at the national level, then absolutely at the state level. I think that was totally gentle. (Moron.)


A big thing I like about you is that ridge that pops out on your brow when you can’t quite wrap your head around a concept. It’s so cute. It’s like when a four-year-old hears the story of Charlotte’s Web and contemplates all those meals that now turn out to have been made from friendly little piggies. Or like the look a dog has when you read it Dostoyevsky. (Yes, before you object, I actually did this with my buddy’s terrier, and I was like: “Sparky, that is the exact same face my roommate made when he read The Idiot!”)


Ours is an unbalanced intellectual association. I’m right. You…not so much. Like the one time when you claimed that “Kaylee Sparx” was a talented thespian. Talented, maybe, but I think you got “thespian” mixed up with something else…


No, I don’t give any credence to some webpage you found that backs up your take on this. I could find a site to the contrary in moments. If you really want to help your argument, get rid of your cellphone and your cesspool of references and: just try to convince me! #persuadedontdegrade. Tell you what. I’ll get a six-pack, you quit nitpicking, we’ll talk about it like (almost) equals, and everybody wins!


And by the way, dude, getting up at noon isn’t impressive. Still in bed at 2 is shameful. My dad always said “the early bird gets the chimichanga.” Granted, my dad is totally weird, but chimichangas are tasty. Set an alarm, numbnuts.


I understand. It’s easy to understand. Hey, I even feel envy sometimes. Seeing the world like that takes no effort. A teacher makes a statement, and it is accepted as fact, even when it runs counter to what we know to be true from experience, children’s books, pride parades, etc. It’s like “In school, I learned about the three Rs. They all start with R!” No! No. Brains are useful. Think, dammit.

Any of this getting through?


I started to fume again, but still I gathered the notes and sat down to try to make sense of them. Then, once I'd put them in the correct order and used his clue to extract a word from each one, I had to chuckle. Just like Hugh to have the final say!

What is the message hidden in Hugh's notes to me?

What had we been arguing about?

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The thing they were arguing about was:

How many colors are in the rainbow.

In the post script of the letter, he says "P not V". Supposedly, he claims the last color of the rainbow is purple, not violet (and indigo... well, see second spoiler block). When Hugh talks about a mediocre FPS, he's talking about Rainbow Six. Also hinted at in his notes when he mentions "pride parades."
And in the story how the rain lets up when the narrator gets home.
And in the roommate's name, Hugh (hue).

The hidden message is:

Six not seven. Indigo is bulls#-t (punctuation added for readability)
B and A refer to Before (the first word of the note taped to the door) and after (the last word of the note).
Order the notes according to the number in their text (one time, bed at 2, three R's, four-year-old, top-5, six-pack. Then give them all a letter from Hugh's version of the rainbow: ROYGBP. Then, if the clue says A, take the letter after every occurrence of the clue's rainbow letter. e.g. in clue 1: s from "Ours", i from "right", x from "Sparx". If the clue says B, take the letter (or symbol) before every occurrence of the clue's rainbow letter.
Clearly, Hugh thinks that indigo and violet are really just a fancy way of saying purple (and I tend to agree).

Extra notes:

The door note says "Before I" and "you after", and before and after the colors of the rainbow (or visible light spectrum) are I (infrared) and U (ultraviolet). Not sure if that was on purpose.
Also, the first letters of each sentence in the first paragraph of the question create a false statement.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good stuff. Now just need to use that, plus Hugh's clue, to extract a message from his notes. $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell May 1 '16 at 1:31
  • $\begingroup$ @DanRussell I've been rolling it around in my head, but I still haven't figured out what A and B could signify... $\endgroup$ – paste May 1 '16 at 1:41
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps After and Before? $\endgroup$ – KeyboardWielder May 1 '16 at 8:16
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    $\begingroup$ Just wanted to pop in and add another point of support -- sprinkles! $\endgroup$ – feelinferrety May 2 '16 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ @paste Hah! Took me a minute to figure that out. Totally unintentional, but glad you disagree! $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell May 4 '16 at 4:07
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Partial answer:

Each note has

a number in it: in order, they are 5, four, one, six, 2, three.

Not sure about the A/B or P/V ones though.

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  • $\begingroup$ It seems like this must be what he's referring to when he mentions putting the notes in order. $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Apr 29 '16 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ Particle / Verb? $\endgroup$ – zipzit Apr 29 '16 at 22:19

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