I like the word “irony.” It’s a lovely term that totally belongs in everyone’s vocabulary. There are several types of irony out there, but the type that elicits a snicker or two from most folks is called Cosmic Irony, better known to wordsmiths as the “irony of fate.” This is the kind of irony where one starts out with the intention to do one thing, but something goes a wee bit wrong and the end results are:
- Not exactly what we wanted to happen.
- Entirely opposite of what we thought would happen.
- Stupider than anything we’ve ever done before.
Here are a couple of my favorite examples of Cosmic Irony. Shameless giggling is, of course, allowed:
In 1871, a lawyer named Clement Vallandigham took on the case of Thomas McGehan. Thomas had been charged with killing a man in a bar room brawl. Clement intended to prove Thomas was innocent of the crime. It was Clement Vallandigham’s opinion that the victim had killed himself while trying to pull out his pistol from a pocket while rising from a kneeling position.
Like any competent lawyer might do, Clement had prepared an impressive defense. Perhaps, wanting to brag a bit on how cunning a lawyer he was, Clement demonstrated to some of his lawyer buddies just what he intended to do in court the next day to prove his theory that the victim had killed himself. Clement grabbed a nearby pistol that he assumed was unloaded, put it in his pocket, crouched down and then showed his friends how it was that the victim probably shot himself. It turned out Clement was right. The dead guy did shoot himself!
Clement knew this because as he was pulling the pistol out of his pocket, he shot and mortally wounded himself. By the way, Thomas McGehan was declared innocent of the crime, probably due to Clement’s goof up.
You can read about what happened to Clement Vallandigham before he experienced his personal cosmic ironic event by visiting my buddy, Wikipedia. Seriously, this man led an event filled life.
Franz Reichelt attired in his self-made parachute overcoat.
In 1912, Franz Reichelt, a tailor living in Paris, France, decided he was going to create the world’s best parachute. Thus, Franz created his infamous parachute overcoat. Next step was to test his creation to see if it worked.
This is where the Eiffel Tower enters the story. The Eiffel Tower is an impressively tall structure. Franz figured that it was plenty tall enough to test out his parachute to see if it worked. Franz got the OK from whomever it is that approves folks climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower and then jumping off it. Franz was so sure his parachute would work that he invited the press to cover the event.
The press came in droves, including a British film crew. Lots of non-press French folks came, as well. They all gathered at the base of the Eiffel Tower. It became somewhat of a mob event, so the French police showed up to keep everyone in line. All eyes were focused on Franz as he made his way to the top of the Eiffel Tower. The British film crew recorded the entire event, which, thanks to YouTube, you can view for yourself here.
Franz took a flying leap off of the Eiffel Tower and then fell like a lead balloon to his death. From that day forward Franz became known as the Flying Tailor. Wikipedia has an excellent accounting of the life and demise of Franz Reichelt. It’s an interesting read.
Isn’t irony fascinating? Especially, when it isn’t us playing the starring role in the event.
Many ironic situations need no words at all to convey the message. Here are a few classic ironic images. Observe, digest, then snicker, if inclined……
I hope you are now feeling a bit better informed about the term “irony.” I expect that like me, you all have experienced an ironic situation or two of your own. Some of us even survived the experience and learned from it.
You want know what I think? I think that irony in all its forms is one of the neater things about being human. It’s sort of a common denominator that exists whether you are rich, poor, smart, stupid, boy, girl, or in between. All us humans have an equal potential to be humbled to the point of death due to the choices we make and the situations we get ourselves into. No one skates through life without experiencing some form of irony. You may be richer, younger, smarter, or prettier than me, but when you trip over that crack in the sidewalk and fall splat on your face and the guy behind you guffaws loudly causing you intense embarrassment, that pretty much evens the score between us as far as I’m concerned.
I guess what I’m trying to convey here at the end of this post is that life is and shall always remain a constant cosmic crap shoot. No one is ever totally in control of their eventual destiny. That is an OK thing. Do not covet your neighbor’s karma, people. Life could get ugly on you!
I guess it all boils down to this, folks. If planet Earth hasn’t yet disintegrated, and I’m still breathing and able to laugh every once in a while, then all is well in my world. I can deal with whatever. I wish the same for you all……..
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