Saturday, March 01, 2008

Things NOT to do today:

As I was walking to the post office on 4th street on my way to mail a package, I passed the bus stop on the north side of the street. Anyone who has been there would probably agree that this is one of the most happening places in Bloomington (not like in the "cool" meaning of the word "happening," but that things are always going on, and people seem to be interacting with each other in an intense way as they wait for their buses). People always seem to talk to each other as if they were old acquaintances, and seem to constantly be participating in some sort of contest to see whose problems seem bigger. Accordingly, this corner teems with an energy of both joy and disaster. I used to walk by there twice a day. It's a place that is very alive.

Do you ever feel like the luckiest person in the world? Today I did. As I walked past the bus stop, a bus took off. A man who seemed to be in his mid-20's emerged from the indoor bust stop vending machine area, and was visibly peeved that he had missed the bus that had just departed. He made a face as if to say "Aw mannn. Not again!" He had been doing something else and the bus had left on him.

I know you are probably thinking that I am an a-hole for saying that it made me feel lucky to see someone miss the bus. But there's a very important detail still left to be revealed in this story: This man who missed his bus was wearing a shirt that had these words printed on it:

Things NOT to do today:
Pay attention
The fact that this man had decided one day to purchase this particular shirt at Hot Topic or some other outfitter for rebellious attire, coupled with the fact that his t-shirt was even visible due to today's unseasonably warm weather, coupled with the sheer chance that I just happened to walk by at the right time to witness this event, it was one of those moments when I felt like I had just seen the most poetic thing to be happening on the planet at that particular instant. Aside from the empathy that I felt for the poor fellow missing his bus, it really did just feel so perfect.

Have you ever felt that way? That you might actually be witness to the most _____ thing in the world at that moment? I don't think I'm particularly lucky, but when I put myself in this mindset of wondering if I am witnessing some sort of world-best for an infinite number of bizarre categories (Could this actually be the most delicious smoothie to exist on the planet right now? Is what I am hearing in fact the most irritating put-on-hold telephone waiting music to ever be created? Is this indeed the most pointless blog entry ever posted?), I find that I feel incredibly lucky.

I hope the guy made it to wherever he was needing to go without too much trouble, I really do. But, people like us who scoff at Hot Topic t-shirts, although we see them as being in bad taste, we would be foolish to think that we are exempt from the universal and blind force of irony. Here's how I see it: Even if you think the joke is on the shirt, the joke will someday inevitably be on you.

For example, I tempt this cosmic fate of irony by sometimes wearing a shirt that says "Enjoy Indianapolis" in lettering that imitates the "Enjoy Coca-Cola" ad campaign. To me, the joke is on the shirt, because let's face it, there's not that much to enjoy about the city of Indianapolis, besides the fact that Jared Fogel lives there. But wearing this shirt sets me up for something potentially horrible to happen, for my shirt to one day be as equally ironic as the scenario described above with the guy at the bus stop. How? Who knows! My mind swirls with the different ways in which this scenario could unfold, how the city of Indianapolis will somehow do something horrible to me, causing someone somewhere to say "Yep, that sucker's really 'Enjoying Indianapolis' now, isn't he! Hahahaha!" Perhaps next time I'm there, if I'm wearing the shirt, I'll get some gigantic parking ticket and some guy who thinks he's soooo smart will walk by and see my shirt, see the parking ticket, and be completely jazzed at the thought that he'll have something to blog about later that night. The cycle completes itself, for the forces of irony do not discriminate.*

Note to self: Do not wear "Enjoy Indianapolis" t-shirt while in Indianapolis. Too dangerous.

*David Cross seems to disagree on this matter, saying that the southern US has a disproportionately high amount of t-shirt irony among its trashy folk, who seem to enjoy irony-prone apparel that say things like "Lucky Devil" and "God don't make no trash." I just remembered this. He might have a point there.


Shannon said...

My favorite ironic t-shirt says "I make matters worse." My fiance gave it to me. I'm not sure if he meant anything by it, or if it was just a "thought you could use an extra t-shirt" kind of thing. The sentiment reminds me of growing up in my family.

Which was not as sad as I just made it sound.

ajayan said...

Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u

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