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Trivial Pursuit, music, and the definition of irony
2003-05-17 // 12:55 a.m.

She�s sitting across from me in the too bright light, and we�re playing Trivial Pursuit. Writing the sentence, I think I should look up the definition of irony to make sure that this is indeed it, because it fits so perfectly into what I think it must be.

Sub verbo �irony� in my friendly local dictionary: The use of words to suggest the opposite of what they literally mean, or incongruity between what might be expected to happen and what actually happens.

Yes, in my life the pursuit of her has hardly been trivial, and it has hardly been a pursuit. It is and it isn�t, it has and it hasn�t been. I think about the times I�ve spent wanting to bang my head into walls over her, the way she tells me, half joking and half not, that I should really work on my anger management problem.

The question is a Beatles lyric, a good one. We sing the song together after she gets the question right, intoning quietly �Giiiiiiiiiiiirl,� and making that distinct sound of breathing in over the teeth, sucking in air like you can�t believe what you�ve seen. The irony is singing the song with her that I have sung about her, each of us thinking of someone (or perhaps, in her case, not). The best irony would be if she were singing about me and I about her, and neither of us knew.

The other song we sang together was Buddy Holly, humming into the kitchen �Every day, it�s a-gettin� closer, goin� faster than a rollercoaster, love like yours will surely come my way.� I don�t say that I�ve thought that song about her too, and that all my friends have said go ahead and ask her. The irony of that song doesn�t come out in my voice pittering the words into the air like tiny footsteps out of the room, into someplace where I can say what I�m thinking.

Earlier in the week, she accidentally left me stranded. I couldn�t tell her to her face, so I sat by myself and wondered what her forgetfulness might mean. I presented the problem to her accidentally on purpose, telling her what had passed without her recognition without expecting her to recognize, thinking that she would say �yes, Tuesday, I remember,� and that I wouldn�t be able to make it through my next meeting without crying. Instead her eyes widened and she apologized, making a move as though to hug me, and then stopping herself.

In my head, I told her not to stop, but I think I put more physical distance between us after her halting, as though I could not bear to know what could happen if we were closer.

And I think if she saw this, she would not know what to think.

And I think if I could, I would tell her how I felt (though she would run).

And I think that when I am gone soon, and she is gone sooner, I will not know what to do with myself. Not at all.


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