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Johnson Column: Isn't it ironic? Don't you think? No, not always

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wave Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

The girls I hang out with are unimaginably talented with literary skill. Our concentration of word-based brilliance probably breaks some sort of allowance because it just doesn't seem fair we should be so ridiculously amazing. (Yes, readers, I am actually aware this is cocky and arrogant...where my friends are involved. They're incredible.)

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Trained by AP language and composition to filter through wordiness in order to document and dissect instances of pronoun-antecedent disagreement, argumentative fallacy, and asyndeton, we are personally insulted when such words are employed in unfitting circumstances.

In keeping with our word-based obsession (we've been known to debate "new book smell" with our faces hidden in the centerfolds of a novel, and some of us hold slight addictions to dictionary.com) we joined the speech team, one side effect of which is the inability to properly use the word "speak," as shown in our witty claim "We speech good!"

(This in itself being grammatically incorrect, as much as I adore it, troubles me to a certain degree. Every time I say it my twitch becomes slightly more pronounced, in turn making it more difficult to secure me a man. Ah, the woes of a self-diagnosed English junkie!)

We weren't long time "speechers" before we learned of our coach's penchant for properly employed irony. Being already the sort of people who corrected others in cases of sentence slip-ups and word-use wrongs (sometimes forfeiting friendships in hopes of remaining unadulterated in our precise grammatical proficiency), we immediately latched on to her disgust at Alanis Morrisette's perversely popular "Ironic," in which irony is sparse, if indeed existent.

The one instance we considered involves the "rain on your wedding day" line, which may be allowable since rain at a wedding is a sign of good luck despite the negative assumptions often associated with it. I'm sure that's how dear, sweet, innocent Ms. Morrisette intended it...right?

The girls and I are now quick to pounce, no doubt justified by the righteousness of our cause, on any incorrectly labeled "ironic" situations. Causing us immense bouts of agony, these occurrences litter our very existence, lessening the gentility which we might have employed in our point-out-and-prevent tactics.

There is, I'm sure, a lesson to be learned here: If we are even remotely located near you when you are about to deem something ironic, please: pause, ponder, proceed only with certainty in your conviction of the matter's ironic content. Really, I'm looking out for you. No need to express gratitude. I do this as a selfless act of service to society. (Can I count time spent on this article for National Honor Society hours?)

I feel that I must, necessarily, include that irony is defined as such: a rhetorical or literary device which, contemporarily, laments the inconsistencies of what happens with what is expected or thought to have happened, as well as discordances between meanings and conveyances. A scuba diver drowning his bathtub, though additionally tragic, is primarily ironic. One of last summer's Vacation Bible School songs, "Untitled Hymn," also reeks of irony.

My point, as I believe now that I've written enough to find it, is not only that we must make a terribly excessive over-effort to understand the topic of which we speak before we speak on it (I think I'm learning to re-employ that word in my vocabulary! Speak. Speak. Got it!), as we often don't correlate our meanings to what we convey, but also that many aspects of our lives are backwards with and not quite fitting with what we might expect.

While sometimes these happenings are easy to watch stumble discordantly by with a mere, "Well, that's ironic," others might hurt too much to make light of. Sometimes, it's not so funny. And that's life. Temporary and ultimately meaningless occurrences which appear at present too painful to joke about.

Once removed from the situation, the person, the burden, or from under the spotlight, underneath the Acme anvil (if you're Wile E. Coyote), under pressure (if you're David Bowie or a member of Queen), circumstances somehow become funnier.

I think this is why time heals. (It's also why we laugh when a friend falls down the stairs in front of a maximum-occupancy middle school cafeteria, but we stop when milk comes pouring out of our noses...but that's much less philosophical.) Because, once we realize that our current situation grossly outweighs the significance of any former present tense, the past becomes more bearable, the embarrassment or failure or trauma eases, and the memories fade into memory. Yes, it does hurt; no, it won't always.

And with that, Irony 101 is dismissed.

Thressa Johnson is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.

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