The Trials of a Smart Alek

I come from a long line of smart aleks. I know this because once when my grandmother retorted, “Where do you GET THIS from?” and I replied, “From you, of course,” without getting my ears boxed. She just looked at me for a minute and then a sort-of smile hovered around her lips.

It’s true. My dearly departed grandfather called me his “little comedian” when I was five, so that should tell you something. When I was not crawling under the house to retrieve wandering kittens, apparently I was devoting my time to his amusement. It’s been twenty years since then and the trait has not changed much. However, having a very logical younger brother has made sarcasm more difficult. It kind of deflates the purpose when you’ve said something spectacular and he looks at you and says, “Huh?”

Oh, well. I try.

Is it wrong that all my favorite characters on television have what is commonly known as a wise guy attitude? That nothing pleases me more to hear a new zinger amidst a lot of fluff? That I am more likely to enjoy something if there is sarcasm and cutting wit involved? Oh yes. We are talking an Oscar Wilde sort of girl, much more than a serious sort of girl. I can quote his plays from memory. But that’s beside the point.

This can, however, sometimes get me into trouble. My Bible tells me, after all, to keep a lid on the wickedness of my tongue, since my words can have repercussions. Repercussions are not good. Sometimes they involve pain, general humiliation, and regret. I think we all have said things we regret, politicians in particular. So where does that leave us sarcastic-prone smart aleks? Or even the poser wannabes? Out in the cold without a parka, or soaring high on sea of sarcasm?

For me, I think the defining line is—who are you hurting with your remarks? If someone in your family doesn’t get it, stop it. If someone is offended, stop it. If you’re not sure how it will go over in a group, don’t do it. Better to keep your mouth shut and let people wonder if you’re smart than open it and prove them wrong. Didn’t Mark Twain say that? He knew how to use sarcasm. And general smart-alek-ness. Who else would dryly coin a saying as great as, “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated”? Pity his books are banned because they’re no longer PC, but I guess more people will read them, since banned books are hot stuff right now. No better way to sell a ton of books than by fanatics cranking up the good old center of town bonfire. Oops, was that sarcastic? My bad.

If you are doing a general parody of life, or do not mean it in a nasty-spirited way, being a bit “snarky” now and again can be highly amusing for the people around you. However, there is a difference between being funny and being rude, or even disrespectful. Am I just having fun, or am I being critical? Is my form of comedy pleasing or is it in bad taste? Each situation is different and everyone responds in various ways. Funerals are not a good place to try out your new one-liners. Political rallies maybe, but watch your back. You never know when someone is going to take offense and whack you across the back of the head with one of those “Vote For” signs.

Mocking people and animals are risky, so do so in love, and be careful who you do it in front of. Mimicking Harrison Ford with back pain and hobbling around with a cane may not be the brightest idea in a room full of expectant Indiana Jones fans. Trust me, I know. The welt on my arm still hurts.

5 Replies to “The Trials of a Smart Alek”

  1. *snort* That was awesome. I know you have a fun and snarky side to your personality which I just love. But, like you said, there is a fine line because not everybody will get the joke. Although the best thing about the 4th Indy film was that they played up his being old and decrepit!

    I can be sarcastic with the best of them but that usually happens when I’m going on too little sleep and then I try to keep my lips zipped because I never know what’ll slip out. That can be dangerous!

  2. I’m the total opposite; I only wish I could be snarky….when it is appropriate, of course. I’m more of the shy, quiet type. I have to rack my brain to find the last “witty” thing I said that made me put my foot in my mouth.

    Ok, I remember now. I bought my dad a t-shirt for Christmas recently and it was a very nice shirt and all. Since my dad is a “big boy,” he wears a 2XL in shirt sizes but this particular 2XL was snug. So I said to my dad, “Well, you could keep it and lose the weight to fit into it.”

    Open mouth, insert foot.

  3. Lol at that last bit!

    I love sarcasm, but I never think of anything quick enough. I can testify, though, that we do need to be careful. My step-father is a good one for using sarcasm to sting, but when used right, sarcasm can be awesome. As one of the comments above mentioned, the Doctor is great at it! 😉

  4. This is such a great post, Charity! ^_^
    I share in this lineage of smart aleks. I enjoy being sarcastic, but I do have to watch it sometimes, because not everyone can understand when I am not being serious.
    This also explains my love for television characters such as Doctor Who and Colonel Hogan- two of the kings of sarcasm. 😉

  5. Entertaining post, Charity. =D

    Teasing, sarcasm and “poking fun” is a fine line to walk because sometimes even if you do not intend it to, it can hurt the other person. I came from a family of joksters – on both sides, so I have grown accustomed to it, but among them, I am not the biggest teaser. Still… I do tease my family members or lovingly poke fun at them, but if I don’t like to tease or cannot take some of my own medicine, then I need to be very careful about how I act when it comes to jokes.

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