Imagine the following situation: you’re talking to a small group of people. All of a sudden, one person has the floor.
“So, I pick up my umbrella and my wallet, and of course my phone slips out of my pocket and hits the ground. I pick up my phone, and my coffee spills all over my shoes.”
Nobody’s feeling this story, not even the storyteller. You don’t even care how this person had an umbrella, wallet, and coffee in his/her hands. You’re starting to contemplate a conversation exit strategy. Do I need another drink? Should I use the bathroom? How would I fake a kidney stone? Sensing the story bores the group, the storyteller attempts the save.
“And then I found $20 dollars!”
At this moment, most members of the group smile or chuckle or nod with approval. Perhaps one or two even raise a beverage. Everyone accepts this as the appropriate next move. Everyone, that is, except me.
I don’t know who coined the term, but it’s overused. Its variants are similarly irritating: “And then I was attacked by zombies, And then I married a martian, And then Justin Bieber walked by.” Oh, clever, a Bieber reference! Urban dictionary even defines “And then I found 20 dollars” as something “annoying people” tack on to the end of a story.
The story fell flat. So what? This happens from time to time, even to the most captivating storytellers and conversationalists. Sometimes, you step up to the plate and strike out. Don’t try to correct a C+ with extra credit.
Case in point: this post might fall flat. People might read it and say, “Jesus, he’s lost his touch. The fast food stuff was good back in the day, but take that away and the kid has no talent.” On the other hand, people might like it. I won’t know until I learn how to stop using Arby’s as a crutch.
When I wrote about about fast food and soda, I’d post the articles on Facebook and The Twitter. Some people got a kick out of them. Members of my extended family thought it was my full-time job. When I stopped writing about fast food, I stopped writing altogether. But people kept mentioning how funny they thought some of those old posts were, and I realized I missed making people laugh. And then I decided to write again.
See the double-meaning of the title?
Knowing I wanted to write humorously again, I still had to fill in a blank: what to write about? I have a lot of interests: languages, computers, television, squash. And trust me, nobody wants to read a blog about squash.
I tried writing it out on a sheet of paper: “I used to make people laugh by writing about fast food. Now, I want to make people laugh by writing about X.” I just stared at the X.
“What if X is nothing?” I thought. “No, it can’t be nothing, because that sounds like I’m ripping off Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.” I then considered doing the opposite: writing about everything. But that left a bit too much room for creativity, and I fell into this trap:
Me: What should I write about? Also Me: I don’t know. Check the news and see what’s going on. Me: There’s unrest in the middle east. Also Me: Way too difficult. Try something else. Me: But I could comment humorously on the way in which the Sunni-Shiite divide… Also Me: Ahmadinejad could also send an agent to take a dump on your laptop. Me: Good point. Maybe I should write about the harmful effects of largely-scripted “reality TV” on the public’s notion of reality. Also Me: Too complicated. But TV is going in the right direction. Me: Hey, here’s an article about 90s TV stars who are back on TV, like Ed O’Neill from Married With Children and Craig T. Nelson from Coach. Also Me: Shit, that article says Coach is on Netflix. Me: Wouldn’t hurt to watch an episode, you know, for research. 6 Hours Later: Also Me: Should we start Coach Season 2, or leave it for tomorrow? Me: It’s already 2:45am. Probably should get some sleep.
And believe me, it’s a helluva trap. I considered writing my first post on January 1, 2018. That obviously didn’t happen. (Hey, the entire series of 3rd Rock from the Sun wasn’t going to watch itself). Finally, after 6 weeks, I decided to scratch “everything” off the list.
Not wanting to procrastinate any longer, I decided to just “do it live”. Writing is hard. Being funny is hard. Shit, picking a topic to write about is hard. So, I used to write humorously about fast food, and then I decided to write humorously about something. And today seems like an ideal date to get back to it.