Sunday, October 22, 2006

Misused Word Of The Day


I think I actually get to blame Alanis Morissette for this one.

You see, back before little miss Canadian sunshine hit the bigtime with her little tune about irony (which actually wasn't, which actually is ironic), I never heard the words "irony" or "ironic" outside of the classroom.

I even remember my high school English teacher announcing one morning that he was going to teach us about irony and that 75% of us were not going to understand or retain the concept.

So it's not like I don't appreciate that it can be a tough nut to crack.

But one day it's the sole domain of lit. classes and Cliff's Notes, and today, thanks to creepy Alanis and heaps of media coverage proclaiming my generation to be the first American generation to embrace irony (just look at the now dead trucker hat craze), the word is everywhere.

Not 10 minutes ago I caught a bit of Desperate Housewives. The creepy redhead chick walked into a motel and announced that her 17 year old daughter was in one of the rooms. The guy looked at the registrar and said, "Oh yeah, she's in room 17. How's that for irony?"

Um, no. How's that for a coincidence?

What's wrong with poor coincidence? Why is everyone giving it the cold shoulder? Not hip sounding enough? Not dripping with intelligence?

Like it or not, it's the right word 95% of the time.

A quick high school English refresher course:

Irony (noun): incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.

Coincidence (noun): the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection.

Your daughter is 17 and also happens to be staying in room number 17? That's a coincidence. You and your boss both skip work and bump into each other surfing? Coincidence. You and your roommate both date girls named Betty Lou Manischevitz? Co-inky-dink.

Fly in your Chardonnay? Shitty Chardonnay. Rain on your wedding day? Shitty luck.

Your job is to counsel people who are afraid of flying and you die in a plane crash? THAT'S ironic. The world's best athlete dies of a heart attack? Irony. You call the fat guy "Slim"? Congratulations, you're being ironic.

One is about synchronicity (that would be a coincidence) and one is about the opposite of what's expected (irony).

Here endeth the lesson. Pass it on.


Post a Comment

<< Home