My boyfriend took me to one of those disparate youth parties—you know, with sordid couches cramped around a fire pit in a shabby backyard where everyone waits for a band to arrive.
What band? I don’t know. No one cared. About anything. Especially not fire etiquette; a girl in a denim vest and a devil may care demeanor doused the fire with gasoline, cackling as the flames rose.
The whole situation was dangerous and unappealing in the kind of way where you’ve reached enough maturity to realize that you could die in a stupid way, and don’t want to because hey, you owe your parents more than that.
I left the gasoline happy crazies, passed a kid fondling his leather-man alone in the corner, and crawled up onto the roof top. I sipped on harshly liqueured iced tea handed to me by a girl in a faux fur jacket.
“That’s ironic.” Another neighboring friend said, flat toned.
“What is?” I asked taking an extra long, trusting swig of what was going to help this be an easier night.
“My ex is making out with my friend over there,” she replied, more flat toned. Her lack of cadence was impressive.
I puked on myself because that’s what my humanities degree has earned me in this scenario, and then I told her,
“Sweetheart, that’s not ironic. That’s rude.”
Unless, of course, her ex is a modern rendition of Oedipus and her friend is his lover and unbeknownst to him, also his mother—then she is correct. Because he’s probably drunkenly whispering in her friend’s ear right now how he’s desperately trying to avenge his kingdom by finding the killer of the king, and well, we all took 7th grade English and know Oedipus himself is the killer.
We can talk about irony from when the rooster crows until eternity. Some have even elevated it to a life philosophy: you think you know what you think, or you think you believe what you believe.
If marriage is till death, then why is there divorce?
Irony is just waiting in the wings to fuck you up. You can go your whole life expecting irony to get you at the next corner only to get to the end of your life and it hasn’t, and well, that’s ironic. See the problem?
Dramatic irony is fun. I’m talking the riddle of the sphinx. I’m talking an ambulance running you over.
Our language is replete with verbal irony in its true sense, as well. Comics make a living from it. Irony and comedy go hand in hand. My friend met his favorite stand up comedian at Martha’s Vineyard, Steven Right, and he handed my friend a napkin that said, “Hello forever.”
Socrates spends his whole life interviewing supposed scholars only to comment upon how stupid they all are. They don’t really know anything, and the worst part is—they don’t know they don’t know anything. He has the last word on this matter, because that’s why he’s Socrates.
“At least I know I don’t know anything,” he retorts.
A little, but significant problem.
Cartman, of the blessed South Park, is our best cultural example of someone who just doesn’t give a fuck, and we love him for it. He is a work of genius.
Fondling your knife at a party is not ironic. Watching your ex suck face with your shitty friend is not ironic. Wearing blue pants and fake leather boots in the summer time is not ironic. Your party beverage choice is not ironic. Being a ‘hipster’—a term I begrudgingly invoke—does not make you ironic.
Unless you are the hipster I saw riding his fixie while smoking an American Spirit. Hilarious. And ironic.
Life is proper drama without sprinkles of irony on your breakfast. Stop destroying the poor term. Oedipus was the ultimate victim of irony. Now it seems it is us. Aw, shucks.
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Ed: Cat Beekmans