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Just a reminder: my name is Chris Carmona

Published: Thursday, May 4, 2006

Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010 00:01

Every week, I've received feedback for my opinion essays here at the Villanovan. I can't deny that I find every last comment intriguing. More often than not, I'm flattered by compliments, sometimes by people whom I don't even know, but who have recognized my name from the column. This is not an accident. I try to implant my name, which is Christian Carmona, in as many essays as possible. But people usually call me Chris or just Carmona. Chris Carmona.

Anyway, sometimes I get advice. From friends, from acquaintances, from acquaintances who feign friendship. These people try to give me a cute little piece of advice, which I can only imagine is meant to either inspire me or humble me. I usually smile and nod, attempting to maintain the quiet dignity that I've become known for, but never do I agree. They tell me what aspect of my opinion "worked for them." What part was funny to them. Because, well, they're my audience, so I should consider their highly developed literary palates. I find this adorable. Not only is my ironical self-deprecating arrogance being questioned, but they've found a solution to fix it! Bless you, critic; your endless wisdom has saved my writing career. Please note, if you're a friend of mine who has done so, I'm talking about everyone's advice but yours. Your words I cherish.

Like every narcissist, I treasure hearing people compliment my articles, quoting the obvious line or joke that even an ostrich would understand (the one that would be uttered in the movie trailer right before the release date). I can't stop the person mid-sentence and direct their attention to the deeper, more sophisticated joke. The one that grazed over their heads like Cupid's arrow, causing their interpretive ability for humor to remain at the predatory slapstick level. I can't do this because it crosses a boundary of self-love that even I, Chris Carmona, have not yet ventured. The only known inhabitants are the late Marlon Brando and Barry Bonds, and those are mighty, mighty big shoes to fill. So I'll just say that I love each and every one of you, but if you were a joke, you'd be someone slipping on a banana peel.

My humor is more like a sarcastic heckle marinated in white wine condescension so thick that you give a reluctant chuckle, uncomfortably amused by what's being read. Is he serious? Is this funny? Why am I still reading?

Each and every one of you would like to think that you can do what I do, write like I write, because it seems so simple. But deep down inside, somewhere between the repressed pseudo-incestuous memory and that weird quirk you perform under your covers on only the darkest of nights, you know that's simply not true.

Don't believe me? Try it. Open up a Word document and just start typing. Choose a topic and kill it, bludgeon it to death with your witty insight, feast on its controversial loins. Is the document open? Is it still blank? I thought so. Give it a few minutes, maybe something will come to you. More than likely, however, your screen will stay tauntingly blank, like a long, unplowed driveway.

Or even worse, you will type something. You'll assault your keyboard, poke it so hard and long that a Pillsbury logo would quiver in fear, until you're left with page upon page of your thoughts.

And that's when you realize it: you're not funny. Worse than that, you aren't even interesting. You look into a nearby mirror and ask your reflection, face flushed, identity shattered, "Is my mind this boring?"

More often than not, the answer is yes. But there's still the chance that you're either not creative or simply a bad writer. But don't pout, because thanks to your mental inadequacy, you're ignorant to the tragedy of life. I'm just kidding; you can still very easily understand why life is far more tragic than it is beautiful, or serene or even good. Parts of life, they can be OK. But look at life objectively, as an entity, the procession of events that, should you escape a newspaper headline from some yawn-worthy genocide, lead to your inevitable decline in sanity and crumbling of health. Look at your childhood hero, research every crevice of his life, and then tell me that life isn't a tragedy.

This is where humor comes in. The only way to complement these horrors is to laugh at them. They cannot be avoided. You can't stop taking showers just because you're afraid to slip on a piece of soap. Then life would stink.

Tragedy must go on, so why not make it funny? Woody Allen once said, "Comedy is tragedy plus time." This, this is how I articulate my thoughts. Sure, I'm a good writer, okay great, but do you know how many people possess the ability but lack the thought? Most of them. Even the published ones, some of these names that you study and memorize are nothing more than regurgitating, formulaic frauds.

But if you seriously want to try to write, it doesn't matter if it's a humor essay or a novel or an away message, listen to the advice of this unpublished, unemployed senior: everything is fair game. The larger the taboo, the greater the reward. Make abortion funny. Make capital punishment sympathetic. Turn nuclear war into a horribly cheesy pun; it'd be the bomb. Did you just cringe? Good. Try, fail, but always seek a reaction. Get people for you or get people against you, but wave your hands like a neglected four-year-old middle child and get some sort of attention. I personally like arguing for the underdog. I like being against the majority; I find the challenge much more enticing. But that's just me, and we've already established that you aren't (nor could you ever be) me. A good friend of mine once said, "Every day of my life is an away game." He and I are of the same breed. You, you're the home team. Stay moderate, stay kosher and for the love of Krishna, don't vote against the majority. Stay amiable, on the warm side, smiling and nodding your head and complimenting the majority's cooking.

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