Humour can backfire sometimes. Or misfire. I’m not sure which is worse. I tread with caution when it comes to it. I’ve discovered early on that there is a cruel streak to my witty tongue and I often try to keep it in check, lest it leaves bloodied corpses in its wake.
Did you ever have a moment when you got home, hours after a conversation ended, and you finally have that perfect reply, the one that would’ve cut through and flattened out your opponent?
I have the opposite.
I get home and wish I’d kept my clever retort to myself. Sure it gave me some satisfaction in the moment, but what was ultimately gained by it?
I’ll share two instances with you.
1. At a friend’s birthday party in conversation with one of her guests.
Him: So where are you from?
Him: Not with that accent.
Me: Why? Where are you from?
Him: I’m English.
Me: Not with those manners.
Now that’s put him in his place, but it left a sour taste to the evening thereafter.
Why didn’t I just tell him what he wanted to know? I do usually, and I don’t mind it. Some people can’t tell I’m not British-born, others can. There is something almost exotic about my place of birth. I tend to be a first for most people. Not a problem. So why deny him that little piece of information?
It was his tone. It irked me. It implied something that I did not like, that I was an outsider, that somehow I did not belong.
Well, Her Majesty’s pass-de-port papers say otherwise so beat it, lobster-boy.
Where am I from? I won’t get into that here, but if your curiosity is well and truly wetted, check my contribution to Project O: https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/project-o/
Now the instance above is rather mild. I doubt the guy was very much hurt by what I said. The next gets a little trickier.
2. Having a pint in Covent Garden with a couple of friends. One of them – a very close friend, call him Tom. The other – call him Reif – has been known to tread on toes on occasion, even managed to upset a whole roomful of people at a party once, all in the space of a quarter of an hour. I’ve never been at the receiving end of any of it. I happen to like the guy, care about him even, and that’s why I regretted what I said the moment I said it, but I couldn’t take it back.
It started with Tom making a self-deprecating remark. Reif said, in jest I’m sure, that it only proved that Tom was a loser. He then proceeded to make the L-sign on his forehead – you know the one.
Reif: I’m not sure I’m doing it right. Is it like this or the reverse? (in reference to the L) Me: That depends. Are you looking in a mirror?
Now, you could say that he asked for it. He was being a bit of an arse, and my retort was well timed. But still…
Why am I telling you all this? When OM invited me to be a writer on Harsh Reality, my first instinct was to go for something a little edgy, not quite laugh-out-loud stuff, but something subtle, witty… until I realised that there are risks attached to being witty amongst those who do not know you and may mistake your meaning, especially when it comes to humour that doubles up as irony or sarcasm.[Holds Up Sign] Ask OM.
So. Let’s get to know one another a little better before we go there. I’ll go get myself a healthy supply of tea first, of course. I may’ve not been born British, but neither was tea, so it’s fair game as far as I’m concerned. Once that’s done and drunk – no Freudian slip I assure you – I’m happy to listen to anything you might have to say and answer any questions you may have. Unless it’s about laser socks. That I can tell you nothing about.
vicbriggs https://shardsofsilence.wordpress.com/ FOR HarsH ReaLiTy
This article was first published as a guest post on HarsH ReaLiTy: http://aopinionatedman.com/2013/11/08/did-i-hurt-you/ with the following reblog message: I am one of a handful of people who are guest-blogging on HarsH ReaLiTy this weekend. This is my first piece. On humour ha! I thought it only fair since that’s how OM and I first met. Let me know what you think, and check out the others’ guest posts too. It’s an experiment and your input on this could make all the difference. Ta and Cheerio xxx