I love wordplay — you know, things like puns and witty punchlines and classic comebacks that wrench wry smiles and spontaneous laughter out of you.
Being hopelessly inept at it only highlights the fact that I am inordinately impressed whenever I hear somebody press home a point with a succinct, hit-the-nail-on-its-head idiomatic phrase. In gatherings or social affairs, you won’t be hard-pressed to find the life of the party or the social wit — more often than not, it’s the individual who rolls off clever remarks at a drop of a hat, and who leaves the audience chuckling, nodding in agreement, and inwardly wondering if they’ve somehow missed the point.
I am forever waiting for that opportune moment when I, too, could be blessed with such smooth, rapier-like timing and say something slick like, “The eleventh pun always gets a laugh, even if no pun in ten (10) did.” Or at least a just tiny fraction of Piers Anthony’s fertile punny concoctions for his Xanth novels (e.g., Centaur Aisle, Air Apparent, the perennially late character Justin Thyme).
Although it pains me to say it, I have to admit I just don’t have it. More often than not I’d be hampered by slow mental processes (umm, slow on the uptake?), sloppy timing, inarticulateness, and occasionally, consideration for certain people. Usually, by the time some sleek repartee comes to mind, the moment to make my point has already passed and everybody else has jumped on to a new topic. If ever I blurt out anything remotely clever and funny at the same time, it’s more of an accident than by design.
Sometimes it makes me wish I had Adam Sandler’s remote control (remember the movie Click?) to make time stop while I reach for my dictionary or scroll down a handy “List of Witty Things to Say for Every Occasion”. That sure would make things simpler, except that it could spoil the momentum of things (spontaneity?).
I guess that’s one reason why I take refuge in writing. Collecting witticisms and devising ways in which they can be delivered with perfect timing and the right amount of careless panache isn’t all that hard when you have full control of the situation and the characters. Moreover, when it’s your story, you can always rewrite or dispatch certain characters if you think they’re getting too big for their britches. Or too incoherent… or something.
While I’m floundering around for a nice clincher to round off this brief note (*thinking hard*) umm… uh, okay, I give up. I haven’t thought of anything yet, but I’ll get back to you on that as soon as I’ve come up with something subtle or sublimely witty.