Freudian Slips: The Irony Giant

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

November 08, 2004

The Irony Giant

In October 2004, Readers Digest made preliminary contact with me regarding a short story I wrote entitled Wish I Could be like Superman. It was written about my disease Mastocytosis and how my life intersected with actor Christopher Reeve on the day he died. It was an uplifting story about irony and it was gaining attention. I had aspirations of moving from the theatre of the bizarre anyway. Yes, I wanted to move from my appearance on TV’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not, enter a Witness Protection Program, and relocate to mainstream middle America writing under a pseudonym. I had all of my bags packed for Main Street Middle America when I received an email from an editor at Reader’s Digest. She politely explained that my short story had been rejected. After I finished digesting humble pie, I unpacked my suitcases for my prose was all dressed up with nowhere to go. Rejection without constructive criticism can be confusing to a fledgling writer. I envisioned my short story grinded through the steely claws of a shredder then a night custodian emptying the trash can as he mumbled about the waste of trees in America. Ouch!

Let’s leave rejection behind and travel back to the glorious week that I imagined my life’s story would be read by millions of happy readers across the United States. I grew-up with Reader’s Digest and cannot think of a more wholesome publication to be associated with. So when Reader’s Digest gave me a deadline to submit not only the final draft for my short story but a one page story proposal on myself, I made a fresh pot of coffee and hunkered down at the computer for a long night of extracting the creative juices from every orifice in my body. Strangely, I sat staring at the blinking cursor on the monitor. I developed a troublesome full fledged writer’s block trying to figure out a lead sentence in the crucial last paragraph. It seemed intimidating toying with the notion that I was actually writing for an intended audience for a change. But the longer my keyboard emitted no sound, the more my forehead grew sweaty, and the more I realized I may be out of orifices.

Beside me, my wife sat down happy-go-lucky on our second networked computer. She punched up the website to AT&T to investigate the pros and cons of their AT&T Advantage plan, which operates through your cable line. Her nimble typing seemed to bastardize my writer’s block. The phone rings. Since I am the only one in the room not doing anything, it seems my responsibility to answer the blasted phone. The caller is John, a middle aged guy who only recently met me.

John had never been on the Internet until last week when his cable company connected him. The very first thing he did on-line was go to Ebay. He types in the name of Randall Cunningham, a former quarterback with the Eagles. He finds my listed auction advertising the sale of a Randall Cunningham photo. From the auction he links to my own memorabilia website and sees that I live not only inNew Jersey but also in a neighboring town. He retrieves my phone number off my website, gives me a phone call, comes over to do business, and viola, friends for life. There are easier ways to make friends but I wasn’t knocking his sucess. The nice guy that he is, John is calling to see if I want to go with him to a bookstore in Philadelphia to an autograph signing of Philadelphia Eagles superstar Terrell Owens. I tell him to call the venue and get back to me on the details of the event.

He declines on my suggestion. “Joe, do you mind if you call the book store and check it out? I don’t know if you have ever heard of the AT&T Advantage plan but there is no 411 information. You are hooked to your cable and you got to look up numbers on-line. I am not skilled at the Internet thing yet. I was lucky to find you. "

I looked over to the monitor of the second computer where my wife still read from the AT&T web page.

“John, hold on for a minute.” I muffled the receiver then whispered to my wife to clue her in on the irony. “John is on the line. He is calling from an AT&T cable line right now. He brings with him new meaning to the saying word of mouth advertising.”

“Oh, how does John like AT&T?” my wife asks matter of factly.

“That’s the thing.” My wheels started turning upstairs and this caused me great celebration. I had found another orifice that I did not know existed. “Evidently, one advantage of the AT&T Advantage plan is you don’t have to dial long distance.” I chuckled. “Yeah, you just call local friends to make the long distance calls for you.”

I get back on the phone and tell John he could never sell me the AT&T Advantage plan, which has left both of us disadvantaged. I explain to John that my wife is looking at their web page as we speak. He seems surprised but only in a small way.

“Joe, our relationship is based on irony. Remember how I found you. I thought I was expanding my world and I found you in my backyard the first place I looked. That’s pure irony.”

I took it one step further; risking sounding crazy to a person I met only once. “That is all fine and dandy, but I’m telling you my whole life is based on irony. Life imitating art. Irony tripping over itself. Irony engulfs my life and don’t ask me why. In fact, I’m sitting here writing a short story about irony this very minute. I am up against a deadline to get this to Reader’s Digest and I’m stuck wrapping up the last paragraph.

Then John delivered the ultimate irony. “Maybe, irony is God’s way of talking to you.”

“Oh, my God.” I reveled in emotion. “That is it, isn’t it? You are so right, John. That is exactly what I am trying to say in my short story to Reader’s Digest.”

I took it that God was talking to me through John. John appears to be a lightning rod for irony. He was the Irony Giant and he was slaying me with coincidence. Not that I needed or wanted anymore irony in my life but if this guy gets this short story published, I made a silent vow to put shoes on his baby and give God twenty percent after taxes.

I couldn’t help but ask. “John, how attached are you to that moral-of-the-story line you just gave me?”

“Why, do you like it?”

“I love it. It is the bomb.”

“You can use it, no bid deal.” he says.

I gained consent to permanently borrow his adage but not before I made clear no royalities would be involved with his contribution. We put the social plans on hold as I vowed to finish my short story at a decent hour.

After I hung up the phone, my wife chimed in, “What else did John have to say?”

“Besides finishing my short story for me, John now wants to buy a copy of my autobiography (Stop and Smell the Silk Roses).”

Diane concluded, “The world is a different place for you isn’t it?”

When God helps you make a deadline, you know He is in your corner.

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