Waiting for Irony

Watching for irony, and dark chocolate.Chewing my food at the local café, I saw a young lady I'd met some time ago sitting alone, so I decided to insinuate myself—and my half-eaten sandwich—into her lunch break. By the time she noticed my trajectory it was too late, and I was able to slide into the booth before she had the chance to plan an escape.

"Sitgoin?" I said, my mouth packed with tuna and rye.

She managed a smile. "Good. I'm good. You know, I was just . . . "

I cut her off with a spasm of coughing and choking. The sandwich was trying to enter my lung, and my lung had launched a counterattack. Valerie's mouth was open, her expression an even mix of loathing and disbelief. Suddenly the lung gained an advantage, propelling its enemy toward the open mouth on the other side of the table.

On a different day, the story might have come to a vulgar and predictable end then and there. On this particular day, however, a strange combination of luck, superhuman reflexes, and dark humor turned disaster to serendipity. Valerie's right hand was a blur as it intercepted the fishy missile; her left hand raised a welt on the side of my face.

"Now," said Valerie as she leaned across the table to wipe the tear from my eye, "I think you're ready for a little irony."

I nodded. The last thing anyone needs after nearly choking to death on a tuna sandwich is irony, but I was still within range of her hands. Valerie smiled, and asked if I'd heard about the recent drowning. I shook my head.

"It was an old guy," she said. "He drowned in the creek trying to carry a mattress to the other side. It was ironic."

If there's one thing I've come to expect from people who use the word ironic, it's a complete lack of irony in whatever it is they're using to illustrate the concept. I nodded, and tried not to think about her hands.

"He was always getting after everyone about trashing up the creek," Valerie continued. She was studying my face, looking for something to indicate that I had grasped the irony. I hadn't.

Valerie sighed, and put both hands on the table. My lower lip began to tremble.

"He was always getting after everyone about trashing up the creek," she said again, "but he wound up polluting it himself!"

I laughed. I could see the dark irony in it—my favorite kind.

Valerie winked as she slipped from the booth. "Dark chocolate isn't sweet," she whispered, "but it satisfies."

I laughed again. I love dark chocolate.

 

2 comments:

  1. Those waiting for irony may be waiting in vain. I did some digging and learned that "the final irony came in early 1990" (that's documented in a book entitled BARBARIANS AT THE GATE by Bryan Burrough). If he's right, then the Age of Irony has been over for 17 years. Lest I throw a "wrinkle" into this discussion, we could define "irony" to mean "of or like an iron." But don't press me on it.

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  2. It figures. Believe it ore not, I thought everything was going smoothly.

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