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Monday, November 10, 2008

Just putting it out there

The only thing scarier than a life without laughter is an attempted joke gone wrong. If you are like me who is a last word freak,who thinks he is witty and who wants the world to know that he is witty, you are bound to run into numerous instances when your joke of the day falls flat on its face. It is not entirely because you are dumb but also because of the law of averages. In such cases, you wish you were invisible or a ventriloquist or mute or all of them. Some special days, you have to wish you were still-born. Despite such frequent embarassments, you still want to volunteer your comments and jokes and by doing so, you give the world immense power over you as it decides whether to laugh or to frown or worse still, stare at you in condescension. In short, you are putting it out there; something that could steal the limelight or could be trampled upon or could so radically look like a toilet paper.

Now, where does this insane, almost masochistic, addiction to put it out there comes from? "Road less travelled" states that you have to go through multiple sessions of expensive psychotherapy to understand such drivers. Taking a short and cheap cut, I am going to conclude that it comes from a combination of being a last work freak and the drive to differentiate oneself from all the 'morons' out there. It makes you fearless, sometimes fearsome but largely you hop around with your foot in your mouth. Perhaps the right conclusion is that you have a toe-fetish. Who cares. The purpose of this post is, as the title suggests, to put it out there.

Lets look at some of these instances, actually the more cruel ones only since otherwise, I could keep writing. Sometimes, you are looking to make an impression. In your haste, you commit the criminal mistake of not evaluating the other person first, specifically in terms of attitude, receptivity and comprehension. The remark could fall flat because either the person is congenitally depressed, or is not really expecting a joke from you, or fails to understand the comment. Of course, largely it is because the joke is simply not funny, but you would come to understand that only at a later point in the day. Drawing on my experience, I have developed extremely simple bail-out strategies which consist of proven self-deprecatory remarks and I use one or the other, depending upon the situation viz.

"Could you please shoot me?"
"There I have done it. Get 10 bucks for a stupid statement. Not so bad after all."
"My foot is still in my mouth. isnt it?"
"If you are wondering why my foot is in my mouth, it is because I am only 6 months old."
"I would have found a hole to hide in but the rest of the world beat me to it."
"If I could get a penny for every such instance, I would be a millionaire."

Sometimes, your desire to be original overcomes your rational self and you try something different on the spur. In one such instance, I had cracked a comment on concentration camps to a Polish friend. The comment was of a good quality and when he gave me the look, I realized my mistake and tried to make amends for my insensitivity by saying, "I am really sorry, mate. I didnt realize. I rather wish I was in a concentration camp now." He almost punched me then. Thankfully, we parted on good terms. But it may not happen in your case. So, it is advisable to stick with proven techniques otherwise you may just be replacing whichever foot was previously in your mouth.

All bets are off when you are a public speaker. You try to break the ice with a funny comment and in the process, you could end up freezing the air solid. If it doesnt work, it is total humiliation and you would rather relinquish your life than be at the podium. Of course, the above mentioned strategies can work in such a setting as well but at such a moment, you are under so much strain that you are well-advised to just move on without making amends. Dont save your face and die another day.

The best thing about such situations is also the worst thing i.e. nobody laughs at your witty remark which means that you will think about that moment for eternity and laugh at yourself in solitude. Not really eternity because as soon as you land yourself in similar situation again, your soliloquy immediately acquires a different tune. In some chronic cases, you laugh at yourself for different reasons every night. Not bad, eh?

3 comments:

Toddler said...

Your post reminds me of the recent times that I spent with a friend’s family. For the most part, her sister enjoyed my company but at times she would either frown or sulk at my remarks and I would end up making up to her and that’s when I realized how sensitive she was. Although I interact with everyone amiably but you can’t really control the other person’s reactions. But yeah, for my life I have never landed in a situation wherein you really wish for dinosaur intervention; however, if I ever do, I will gladly use ur ‘bailout strategies’ to rescue myself. :)

Robert said...

You shouldn't talk about Esh that why Vikas!

Ps. I remember the Polish comment, wow, you had indeed 'put it out there' ;)

Beta said...

Rob Thomas - There is no need to bring Esh in here!!! Leave him alone. He has enough racial prejudice going against him as is without another white-skin categorizing him. Spread some love please.