Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Writing for Fun - Irony 2

From Kerry Patterson at

In Part 2, Kerry continues with his discussion of irony.

At first I was more than happy saying I couldn't remember the name of the dumb plant until it became clear that people treat individuals who can't remember the names of trees growing in their yard like some kind of drooling cretin who probably also doesn't know the size and brand of the tires on his car (I think mine are two ten, net thirty) and who as such, wouldn't have been able to bring down a woolly mammoth on his own and is really of no use to society.

It wasn't long until I starting taking a new tact. I made up names. For example, we selected the evergreen trees that grow next to my house because they grow tall and full, but not wide, so they wouldn't block the garage door. Now that they've grown to their full size, absolute strangers driving by my house slam on their brakes, knock on my door, and ask me about the trees in front of my house that grow tall, but remain skinny—because they need some just like them for their yard.

"Why those," I explain with a perfectly straight face, "are pynus anerexus and can be found at any nursery."

This lack of memory, it turns out, extends to plants I've known for over forty years. For reasons known only to the memory Gods, I can never recall the name of Petunias when I need to. Picking up on a technique I read in an article, I decided to try the association game. I associated the flower with an imaginary pig because the only other Petunia I knew was Petunia Pig, Porky Pig's girlfriend. Now I look at the flowers and think pig and call them Porkies.

Last summer I actually asked the lady at the local nursery for a flat of Wilburs. Growing increasingly concerned with the need to be able to recall the names of the plants in my yard, I committed to reading and memorizing the names of the annuals I put in each spring. After all, each little packet of six flowers comes with several white plastic sticks stating the name of whatever is growing in the container.

After planting a lovely blue flower, I just knew that people were going to ask me what it was called so I read the name, spelled it in my head, said it aloud several times, and made up a little song. Surely I'd remember the name of this beauty. Later that evening as I lay in bed replaying the events of the day in my mind, my thoughts turned to planting the new annuals and it struck me that I couldn't recall the name of the beautiful blue flowers I had planted next to my walkway.

What the heck were those things called anyway? The harder I tried the more my brain turned to mush until eventually I could take it no longer. In a fit of self loathing I grabbed a flashlight, put on flip-flops and a bathrobe, and at some time around one in the morning trudged out to find the silly blue flowers.

Seconds later I kneeled next to the flower bed, flashed my light around until I spotted a white stick with words printed on it, and pulled up eyeball-to-plastic stick until I could finally read the name of the flower I had—despite efforts to the contrary—completely forgotten. The name of the plant? "Forget-me-not."

So there you have it. If you're looking for a way to explain the meaning of irony to someone, I've now shared with you the perfect story. And please take the time to explain the real meaning of the word.

Continued abuse of the meaning would be absolutely heinous. Literally.

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