The Truth, Mainly - 10/28/2002

Licensed ironologist ponders running for U.S. president
by Leon Satterfield

"Hey!" I say to my wife. "Hey!"

"Um?" she says, her head bent over her crossword puzzle.

"Did you see this?" I squeal. "Did you see this? Huh? Huh? Huh?"

I thrust the editorial page of last Tuesday's Journal Star between her face and her puzzle.

"Yeah," she says. "Funny cartoon. What's a four-letter wor4 for an intrusive husband?"

"Not the cartoon!" I say. 'And I'm not being intrusive. I'm calling your attention to what may be a really important crossroad in our lives."

I point to the last letter in the letters-to-the-editor column. My pointing finger quivers.

"Read it aloud!" I shriek. "Read it aloud!"

I'm so excited I'm about to wet my pants.

"You look like you're about to wet your pants," she says. "You haven't been this excited since that 17 -year-old waitress called you 'Hon' yesterday."

"I was just surprised," I say, "that someone her age, and pretty as she was, would make a pass at someone old enough to be her big brother."

"Grandpa," my wife says. "You're old enough to be her grandpa. And you spilled water on the front of your pants and gave her a $10 tip and people were pointing at us and laughing."

"Just read the letter to the editor," I say, 'Aloud."

She reads it aloud: "I have just read Leon Satterfield's column, 'An open letter to the president' (Oct. 14). I think we should start printing the yard signs. 'Leon Satterfield for president.'"

"It's got a nice ring to it, don't you think?" I say. 'And just when I was getting used to living in a townhouse, whatever a townhouse is."

"You're not serious," she says. 'Are you?"

"I knew it would pay off," I say. "I knew if I kept writing about what the president was doing wrong, somebody would draft me to replace him."

"You're serious,"she says. 'Aren't you?"

"Sounds like a serious draft," I say, "so I'm obliged to take it seriously.'"

"Wait a minute before you alert the media," she says. 'As you remind me way too often, you're a licensed ironologist. Now say again what that means."

"An ironologist is someone who studies irony," I say, "as different from a mere ironist as an entomologist is different from a bug. But what's that got to do with the letter saying I should run for president?"

"You really don't get it,"she says. "Do you'?"

"Hah?" I say.

"Just like you didn't get it," she says, "when our daughter made you that banner that says 'SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL IRONOLOGIST.'"

"It was very nice of her," I say; "to recognize my expertise that way."

"And you don't suppose, do you," she says, "that she was being ironic when she made the banner?"

"Hah?" I say.

"Tell me one more time, Mr. Hotshot Ironologist," she says.

"What's the quickie definition of irony?"

"Valuing something by seeming to devalue it," I say in my constipated professorial voice, "or devaluing something by seeming to value it."

"So, you poor old booger," she says, "don't you think your daughter might have amused herself by making a banner that ironically devalues ironologyand giving it to her father who thinks he knows all about irony?"

"I have no idea," I sniff, "what you're talking about."

"And," she says, "isn't it quite likely that the 17-year-old waitress was being ironic when 'she called you 'Hon,' that she was just playing you for a $10 tip?"

I squirm.

"What," I say, "does all this have to do with the groundswell of support for, my presidential candidacy?"

"This," she says. 'As a licensed ironologist, aren't you failing to recognize the letter-writer's irony which probably is really saying 'You think you know more than the president, Bucko, so why don't you run for the office and see what happens?'"

"Hah?" I say.

"Worst case scenario," she says. "You'd be a joke candidate and if you got elected you'd be a joke president. And joke presidents, even when they make us laugh, can become dangerous. Besides, how could I keep a straight face when they play 'Hail to the Chief?"

"Hah?" I say.

"Well," she says, rolling her eyes, "Laura manages to do it. But she's got more self-control than I do. Either that or they have to give her drugs."

Now I really have no idea what she's talking about. She has a hard time sticking to the subject. I worry about her being First Lady.


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is:

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