Saturday, January 16, 2021

The hard lives of irony sufferers

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When irony is defined as the opposite of wrinkly, writes NURY VITTACHI.

Traffic police stopped a friend of mine and asked, “Is this your car, sir?” The driver, a cheery man suffering from advanced irony, replied, “No, I stole it!”
Bad idea. It took him two hours to convince them that he’d had congenital sarcasm all his life.

As a fellow sufferer, I concur that this is one scary disease.
When applying for a United States visa, I had to fill in a form asking whether I “intended to commit terrorist acts” while on US soil. (Not a joke, this is actually what the form asks).
It is Virtually Impossible for chronic irony sufferers not to answer “yes” to such a question. Luckily, I was stopped by my companion, as my spouse no longer allows me out of the house unsupervised.
Yet it seems to me that people in general are highly experimental these days, taking risks at big and small scales, just to see what happens.
My daughter told me about a guy who went to a hi-tech burger shop and asked the order-taking computer for a cheeseburger with no meat, no bun, no pickles, no salad and no sauce. Result: it gave him a thin square slice of cheese.
The same week, a reader told me about a judge in the United States who set bail for a run-of-the-mill arrestee at $4 billion just to see what would happen. The process went through unchallenged. I’m sure court staff was mightily amused, although the man’s family probably spent a LOT of time with hands down sofa cracks looking for cash.
These reports reminded me of a story I covered as a travel journalist in the 1990s. The pilot of a passenger plane found an unlabelled button in the cockpit and pressed it to see what would happen. Nothing, as far as he could tell. But it sent a secret signal to his destination, Manila’s international airport, saying that skyjackers had taken over the flight. The pilot landed to find the army waiting with heavy weaponry pointed at the plane.
Just a thought: Maybe curious people who press random buttons for experimental reasons might not be ideal pilot material? “This is your captain speaking. Please return to your seats and put on your seatbelts as I want to try something, yeah, baby.”
I once asked a famously irresponsible friend who was always in trouble how he could take such huge risks, and he replied, “Because one day the Earth will be sucked into the sun and humanity will disappear forever.”
It was a brilliant answer, and one I’ve used often. But it doesn’t work on traffic police. I know that now.
The key to good sarcasm, of course, is keeping a straight face. The day before writing this, an impatient co-worker pressed the lift call button twice. I told him, “If you press it three times, it goes into hurry mode.” He gave me a suspicious glance – but he pressed it a third time. Score.
Tip: Sometimes you do something and get “Thanks a lot” in reply, and you don’t actually know if the respondent is expressing gratitude or being sarcastic. Simply nod and reply with an equally ambiguous phrase, “Yeah, right.”

- Advertisement -

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Ep8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s life

To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Ep 6: The Indian LGBTQ+ community in 2020

  It’s been two years since the world’s largest democracy repealed the draconian Section 377 which used to allow discrimination against homosexual people. Only this...

Latest News

lilly singh

WATCH: Lilly Singh’s rivalry with her overachieving ‘cousin’, Kamala Harris

  "Growing up I always got compared to my Indian cousins," shares Lilly Singh, reminding us of those unforgettable sibling rivalries we've all experiences at...
Udaya wentworthville

Reopening after being a COVID exposure site

  "We did not have a clue, because the customer was asymtopmatic." Since the news of popular spots Saravanaa Bhavan and Udaya supermarket being COVID exposure...
meeting op nayyar (1)

Why OP Nayyar continues to be this fan’s favourite musician

  I am an ardent admirer of O P Nayyar’s music. Anyone who knows me well, knows of my love for Indian film music from...

5 powerful poems by the brilliant Javed Akhtar

  A celebrated lyricist and the recipient of the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award for his poetry, Javed Akhtar's name is synonymous with soul-wrenching, evocative writing.  His...
dog swami video

WATCH: Dog ‘blesses’ devotees outside temple in India

  In a now viral video, a dog stationed outside the Siddhivinayak Temple in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra was spotted shaking hands and 'blessing' devotees as they...