One of my instructors at camp back in San Francisco (let’s call him Bernie) spent the better part of half an hour explaining the use of the word “ironic” and how it is frequently used incorrectly in daily speech. The word “ironic” means something completely unexpected – like being stuck in traffic while attempting to drive to a seminar about traffic or a PETA activist getting trampled by a cow. Meeting your ex at a party? Not ironic. Getting hit in the head with a rock? Not ironic. The subway breaking down on your way to work? Not ironic. All these things, he said, just SUCKED (he pronounced “sucked” in a most curious way: suCKKKKKKKed, as if he were giving the class underwater). To illustrate his point, Bernie showed us a YouTube video of Alanis Morisette’s song “Ironic“. In an aghast tone, as if telling us about a recent murder, he explained how Morisette’s song was littered with concepts she thought were ironic but really weren’t. For example: “possessing ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife” or “rain on your wedding day” or “a fly in your chardonnay”. “Isn’t it ironic?” Alanis warbled in the chorus, to which Bernie practically screamed: “NO NO IT ISN’T! IT JUST SUCCCCKKS!”
Apparently Alanis Morisette is an embarrassment to the scientific community. They’ve probably excommunicated her from the church of scientific understanding, or whatever it is that they call themselves, for teaching the general public how to misuse a term. I’d like to think that these wise wise men and women who belong to said community bury their faces in their hands and, fingers plugging their ears, yell NANANANAICAN’THEARYOU whenever the song comes up on the radio.
In response to Bernie’s instruction, K and I resolved to eliminate our preconceived definition of ironic and begin using the term Alanis Morisette ironic. As in: “I SAW A GUY WITH AN UBUNTU SHIRT AT AN APPLE STORE. HARHARHAR THAT’S SO ALANIS MORISETTE IRONIC!”
For my own personal convenience, I even started shortening the phrase to “morironic” or “alanironic” (or “bernironic”, maybe). It’s starting to become ridiculously ingrained in my speech, as are Internet words like LOLcat and THE ROFLCOPTER GOES SWA SWA SWA!
THIS is what three weeks in California did to me, people.