This guy, Paul, was a big-shot, up-and-coming professor of literature at a major university in Ohio. He loved literature taught it with passion, enjoyed talking about it and reading it. In fact, he liked everything about it. Except for one thing. You see, people would come up to him and say, "God Paul, thats ironic," or "Gee Paul, theres a real irony," or "Christ, if you think about it, thats really ironic, Paul," or "Jesus, Paul, thats absolutely ironic. Did you ever think about that?"
Well, of course he thought about it. He was a professor of literature up-and-coming at a major university in Ohio for Chrissakes. What in the hell did people think he thought about? Did they think he couldnt appreciate irony when he saw it? Did they think that he didnt know what irony was? Why all these reminders? Just what were they getting at? Christ, he could spot a good irony from a hundred miles. What, exactly, was all this irony stuff aimed at him?
Thats what Paul now refers to as his "defensive" stage. People would say, "Christ Paul, thats ironic. Did you think about that?" And Paul would explode on them and say, "Yes, Jesus Christ, Ive thought about it. Im a fucking English Professor. What the hell do you think I think about?
Yes, its ironic. Yes, Ive thought about it. Jesus fucking Christ, you piss me off."
But then, one day the unthinkable happened. Someone said to him, "Paul, thats ironic, really ironic, if you stop and think about it." And it was ironic BUT HE HADNT STOPPED TO THINK ABOUT IT. It was a plain mans irony, an irony that even people who dont understand irony would find ironic. And he had missed it. Worse, he had not even considered it. He had, in fact, ignored it. He had made it, simply, an event.
Well, Paul was smart, and he caught on. "Oh well," he said, "Im becoming too self-reflective."
And then, just when it all seemed too bleak to endure and Paul had put in his resignation, he was promoted to the position of chairman of his Division.
Well, this was ironic, and Paul knew it. But now, there was no one he could tell.
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