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.