Remember the 90s?
[I’m going to stop right there and ask for pity. If your answer to the above question is “Yes! I was potty training at the time,” please refrain from making me feel ancient until I’ve had time to drink another cup of coffee or two. Thank you in advance.]
Anyway, the 90s. Remember them? If you were anywhere near a radio during the middle part of that decade, you are probably very familiar with one Alanis Morissette. Her album “Jagged Little Pill” was an unstoppable musical juggernaut. It spawned a pile of hit singles and probably made her enough money to buy Paraguay. It was also one of the few albums my best friend at the time and I could agree on when we would drive somewhere, so I heard a lot of it.
Among her many hits was a little tune called “Ironic.” As one might surmise from the title, it was all about life’s little ironies. Or rather, it was meant to be. It stirred a minor lexical controversy, as many usage prescriptivists objected to such things as rain on one’s wedding day being described using that term. I will leave it to the indispensable Kory Stamper to deal with that issue.
However, something occurred to me as I was driving along this morning listening to one of the 90s stations on my satellite radio. Ms. Morissette’s massive break-out hit “You Oughta Know” was playing when it dawned on me — that song is truly, unambiguously ironic. Or at least parts of it are; I’m pretty sure most of the notably strident lyrics are meant to be taken at face value.
But “I want you to know that I’m happy for you, I wish nothing but the best for you both”? Ironic! “I’m sure she’d make a really excellent mother”? Ironic! “I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner”? Ironic! And also my favorite line!
Yet back in the day when people were (seriously) nattering about whether or not “Ironic” was really ironic (and I happen to think that saying “Well, isn’t this nice” when your plane is crashing certainly counts), nobody seemed to give her credit for grasping irony in at least one of her other songs.
Who would have thought? It figures.
And that’s this week’s Question — what totally random and utterly worthless realization have you had recently? What odd little thing did you happen to grasp all of a sudden? What little flicker of understanding danced across your brain? The more trivial and divorced from any practical application, the better.