Yes, a favorite word and activity of mine. One of only two English words with all the vowels in order– A, E, I, O, U. But that is just the cherry on top of all the ice cream and bananas that make up the awesome banana-splitting word facetious…
* not meant to be taken seriously or literally: a facetious remark.
* amusing; humorous.
*lacking serious intent; concerned with something nonessential, amusing, or frivolous: a facetious person.
* from facetiae, Latin, plural of facētia something witty.
In the word you can see face and facet. So, being facetious has something to do with the face or a facet of intent. Maybe it’s a glint in the eye that conveys a code such as, “Hold my beer,partner”. Or it’s a facet, a shard of broken mirror that captures a slice of frivolity. In my case it’s deadpan jokes uttered as semi-sacred truths. Somehow, if you don’t laugh as you utter the milky joke, it hits the unsuspecting ear drum with an echo of confusion. The sacred cow moos off key. Something does not resonate rightly with the listener, and he/she wonders if they heard it correctly. Perhaps they wonder, “Why is he milking this situation?”
Example: new folks meeting at a picnic. One guy asks where two other old friends met. I offer, “On a gay dating site. Matcho’men.Com” as if I were mentioning a self evident fact like “The sky is very blue today, don’tcha think?”. Pause. Restrained chuckles that release male tensions.
Now I know what you are thinking: ‘This sort of joke could get you beaten into a heavy duty garbage bag and tossed into the East River for urban piranhas to nibble on.’ And I would agree with the first part about the garbage bag but quickly point out that piranhas are not native to New York. However, they are served as a main course in Peru with the head on. Now that’s an ironic twist, eh?, a piranha being devoured by a human. Quite a bite. Facetious or fact? Check the fact box, fans.
So, one must have a fire escape ready when the facetious remark is met with angry revulsion coupled with a desire for immediate violent revenge. In a world of stand up comedy, one must expect hecklers buzzing from the tender nerve you just stepped on. It happens. All jobs have their occupational hazards, you know?, like sand traps and water hazards in golf. That’s what keeps the game challenging. Yes? Of course yes.
An earlier post 412. Unfriended Progenously is a perfect example of such reaching too far and not knowing one’s audience. It’s the one where I sent a goofily facetious message to my daughter’s very official professional website, thinking it was her personal Facebook page. I think it’s a funny story now, but I can’t be absolutely sure since I was so wrong before. It was a case of mistaken context, like farting in church or belching at a funeral. She kept her job, but I was exiled. Oh so faux pas!
There are other incidents back in the memory vault, though they grow suspect over time. Pretending seriously to be something or someone I was not got me in a pickle jam a time or two. There was the time in college when my lumberjack friend Craver and his buddies came up from William and Mary to a concert around the corner from my apartment in Richmond, Virginia. I had a paper due and declined the invite, though I wished I could find a way to make both happen. (It was Bonnie Raitt and someone else.) As the evening dragged on and I sat in my academic isolation, I got bored with the paper and began to think of mischief. My roommate Sam had a very lifelike old man mask made of rubber. I put it on and then added a trench coat and a hat. I thought for a laugh I’d go over to greet Mark and his friends as they exited The Mosque, an old fashioned concert hall built prior to the concept of political correctness. Right? Can you imagine a casino in Dubai called The Cathedral?
Anyhow, I was early or there were curtain calls, so I waited outside the main entrance, trying to be discreet. Three redneck dudes noticed me and wondered what the heck was going on. I just played along as an old man, which confused their already addled brains. I was getting a bit anxious and definitely second guessing my charade when they began to get hostile and pushy with me. Just about that time the crowd came out of the auditorium and I spotted Craver. I called his name and he lumbered over to my awkward situation. “Is there a problem here, fellas?” he inquired. The three suddenly polite rednecks quickly uttered that there was no problem and away they went. That’s when Crave started chuckling and said, “What the hell are you doing?” I thanked him for saving me from a beating and we all went back to my apartment. Looking back with fondness now, I guess I was being facetious, but I had the wrong context. Craver got a kick out of the get up and the set up. He was very tolerant of my facetiousness.
I have found it’s a good thing to have big friends, even if they are teddy bears. Which brings my last memory to the surface. My buddy and roommate Sam and I were at Virginia Tech for a weekend, and after the game and pints of Southern Comfort he and I were wondering down the main drag in Blacksburg. We wound up in a bar on the second floor. [That in itself is a liability, which reminds me of the loony email to my lawyer daughter referenced above, but I’ll leave that for you to research.] We were both drunk, but I more than Sam when we entered this bar with a pool table in the center. I staggered up to the table and slapped a dollar on the side rail. “I want the winner!” I swaggered. That’s when a large dude with a cue stick took my money and set it at the end of the line of dollars that belonged to rough guys waiting to play the winner. A sober person would have noticed the cold tension in the room. I went to the bathroom.
While I was singing to myself in the men’s room, probably a Little Feat song… “Drop me off on Peach Street, I can feel that Georgia sun…”, Sam was explaining that I was mentally ill and he was my personal aide, I think. Otherwise I cannot explain how we got out of there without a full body beating. In a flash of inspiration I thought it would be a great gag to wrap myself in toilet paper as I returned to the pool table crowd. So I did. As I walked out of the bathroom completely wrapped in toilet paper, I said, “Gentlemen, meet The Mummy.” Somebody yelled, “That’s enough” and I found myself outside the bar laughing with Sam at the absurdity of it all. We were lost and wandered along the avenue until we found our bearings to some friend of a friend’s apartment floor. And that’s a facetious fact.
It’s not for everyone, this facetious thing. Some folks are too tightly wrapped up in their own too serious Saran Wrap for my taste. And I am way too out there for their sensibilities. So streams split and you just have to paddle your own canoe, one joke at a time.