Wednesday, March 15, 2017

This Is Serious

When someone asks you if you're kidding about something you've observed, you know you have their interest. You also know they suspect you might be exaggerating. This is because the thing you observed seems far enough out of the ordinary to require verification.

On any given day, a number of things require some sort of verification or other. Not the least of these is your apparent demeanor. This is often the reason you're asked if you're exaggerating to make some point. The asker is interested in the intensity of your observation.

Sometimes an individual who has read something of yours will find a range of meaning and implication well beyond and possibly even polar to what you thought to have said, indeed hoped to have said.

There are times when someone has flat out asked you, "Are you serious?" Although this question is a simple variation on the theme of an observation of yours being meant to be taken at face value, this version of the question has a greater potential to rankle you.

Not that many years ago, you were asked with some regularity when you were going to get--that was the verb they used--serious. "When are you going to get serious?" As though, at the moment, you were kidding. As though kidding was not a form of seriousness. As though seriousness were not a form of kidding.

You've spent many hours dealing with the problem, which is to say studying ways to keep from laughing yourself at the absurdity of the absurdity you were bringing to light. Many of those hours were spent rereading essays by a man whose seriousness you never misread. 

Although he was, as is often said of a deceased person, dead and buried twenty years before you appeared on the scene and within another ten years, discovered him, you understood from Samuel Clemens how important it is not to laugh when you're saying something funny.

You're older now than Samuel Clemens was, on his way to becoming dead and buried. Even if you had another fifty years to do so, there is no likelihood you'd be able to understand many of his most serious concerns, but to the degree you've been able, you have learned to laugh as much as you used to when persons asked you if you were kidding.

Part of the reason behind this faux self-control has to do with anger management. A person who laughs at the observations she or he makes will appear to be younger, brasher, and less sophisticated than she or he appears to be. This person, the one who laughs at a personal observation, appears to be laughing at someone--anyone--else.

The person who does not laugh at a personal observation appears to be laughing at her- or himself as the goat of the remark, thus becoming more of a threat, because she or he reminds us of our very own self. You've spent years in anger management, learning the nuances of the concept of inner turmoil known as anger and its first-cousin relationship to yet another inner feeling that often causes a smile. The other inner concept is humor, which causes the smile because of the way it reveals painful truths.

The painful inner truths are often at your own personal expense. This round is mine. Drinks on me.

Are you kidding?

You're paying, so, no, you're not kidding.

When you're serious, that's more on the order of you buying a round without being asked. Perhaps you're buying to show you have the means. Perhaps you're paying off some past debt you want kept sealed in the past.

Are you serious?

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