I'm so very sorry for living ;-)

Not everybody gets sarcasm, a fact I sometimes forget, and so I'm sorry. I'm sorry that you don't get the joke. I'm sorry that by not getting the joke you feel dumb. I'm sorry for being so much smarter than you. ;-)

Dubbed the lowest form of humour by those who don't understand it, sarcasm is pretty much how I've made my living for the past decade.

No, not every story I write features sarcasm, but most of the interviews I conduct sport it here and there. And sometimes, if I don't have an opportunity to inject a little sarcasm into my day, whether it's directed at my husband or my boss, my brother, a co-worker or friend, there's a good chance I'm thinking something sarcastic, but holding it back in order to be polite. ;-)

I suppose, however, those who don't comprehend the sarcasm peppering this weekly column could be forgiven considering it, like any real skill, requires years and years of effort and long nights spent diligently practicing.

These days, sarcasm is so ingrained in my personality that I don't even know I'm doing it. Like the people who curse so much that they no longer hear the expletives, or those who live in England for a few years and come back saying "bollocks," "blimey" and "sod-off," without realizing they sound ridiculous, I too forget that I come across cruel, cold and even offensive, but I fear I'm beyond repair.

That leaves me three options: stop writing my column, continue writing my column and interject emoticons after every sarcastic comment, or educate my readers on the nature of sarcasm and how it works.

I've opted for options two and three.

While sarcasm might be called 'low-humour,' that doesn't mean it's easy. Sarcasm is hard, especially if you're not very smart. And what's sometimes difficult to recognize in face-to-face conversation is even more challenging in print, a fact brought to my attention last week by my publisher who, while fluent in sarcasm himself, explained that comprehension is enhanced through verbal cues and body language, none of which are available through a newspaper article.

At his suggestion I decided to compile a sarcasm primer of sorts for those who require a little extra help deciphering my wit.

This primer will come in handy, not only while reading Mind Candy, but while reading everything that you come in contact with these days, because let's face it, with email, Facebook and Twitter we're writing, and reading, more than ever.

As such, it's incumbent upon us to be able to decipher humour and innuendo within the messages we receive.

Sarcasm is defined as "the use of bitter or wounding; esp. ironic remarks."

For some, sarcasm is a verbal reflex against stupidity. For example, you're standing in the kitchen eating a doughnut when your mother asks, "what are you eating," and you promptly reply, "an onion."

That's sarcasm.

Or you slip on some ice in the parking lot at work, the contents of your purse - lip gloss, tampons, a bottle opener - are flung out behind you for the world to see. There is coffee dribbling down the front of a dry-clean-only jacket, and you have no idea which direction your $30 Starbucks travel mug has rolled.

A co-worker approaches and casually asks, "Did you fall down?" If your answer is: "Nope, just crab-walking to get the cardio up, don't bother holding the door, I'm going to do some push-ups next."

That's sarcasm.

Sarcasm is stating the exact opposite of the truth. It's a 'not' joke, without the handy 'not' at the end.

Sarcasm can also be used to insult people surreptitiously. It's the passive-aggressive's first line of defense.

Boss: "I don't believe in Valentine's Day. My wife and I celebrate every day of the year."

Employee: "Your wife is a lucky woman."

When reading my column, ask yourself: "Is she serious? Does she actually think a held-in fart and a closed-mouth burp is the meaning of love? Does she actually think her boss's wife is a lucky woman?"

Probably not.

It's more likely that I think love is butterflies, rainbows and Hugh Grant movies. Maybe my husband and I communicate in sonnet form, and keep a stopwatch on hand to ensure all our hugs last at least 30 seconds. ;-)

Maybe I only write seemingly thoughtless and cruel things because I'm really such a softie. Maybe, just maybe, if I don't laugh, I'll cry, and nobody wants that week after week.

Therefore, there's no need to pity me, nor is there a requirement to educate me about the true meaning of love or marriage. And believe me, there is no need to feel sorry for my husband - he'll be just fine. ;-)

When I belittle pregnancy, motherhood, childbirth and Santa Claus, I'm just being facetious. I love all of these things, even childbirth (probably because I had a c-section). ;-)

Finally, if this column doesn't provide enough know-how for understanding sarcasm, then I point you to YouTube, where comedian Jack Danyells has a great video entitled Sarcasm For Dummies.


( dbach@kamloopsnews.ca)

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