Am I Really Channelling Dorothy Parker?

Watching Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart this morning had me waxing nostalgic on my Twitter feed.


smuttysteff I think I was born in the wrong decade. I think I should’ve been some bitchy vixen singing jazz in the ’30s.

smuttysteff The kind who laughed and blew smoke in mens’ faces. Yup.

DavidStephenson @smuttysteff No, you’re channeling Dorothy Parker http://tinyurl.com/2ml5ae

smuttysteff @DavidStephenson I’m channelling Dorothy Parker? Let’s hope I skip the alcoholism, depression, and lonely, bitter death, then, eh? :)

It’s funny, you know. Dorothy Parker was known for her caustic way, her incredible essays and other writing, her brilliant witty but cutting use of language, and when she got old, she got all depressed that she was just a “wisecracker” and more or less drank her way out of this life.

It reminds me, really, of when I was younger, around 19 or 20, when I was super-popular and everybody’s friend, thanks to my wise-cracking ways that everyone loved, of a dream I had one night that pretty much literally changed me forever.

In the dream, I was zipping along one of BC’s fantastic winding coastal roads, driving fast like I always do, with a stream of friends following me in their cars, when my car went soaring over the cliff edge and crashed, becoming a massive fireball hundreds of feet below.

My friends all stopped their cars, got out, and stared morosely down below at the smoldering wreck. Will laments, “Fuck. She’s dead. That sucks.” and Jay goes, “Yeah. She was always so funny.” Dave goes, “Yeah. Funny. Total bummer.”

I awoke horrified. Am I just funny? Is that all I bring to the table? Don’t I have depth? Isn’t there more to relationships than this? Can’t I be funny AND deep? Can’t I be the total package?

There comes a point when humour’s just not enough, and if anyone should know, it’s me. I mean, hey, I’m funny six ways to Sunday, but humour can’t always say what needs saying, now, can it? There are some messages, for instance, you just wouldn’t send Robin Williams to deliver, aren’t there?

Leading up to my horrific death-by-crash, I’d had a couple of years filled with all those Dark Family Happenings in which parental units would admonish me to “tell no one” about what was happening. Everything in my life was something worth keeping quiet, so instead of saying anything at all that could lead me to shame or secrets or sheepishness, I’d instead crack jokes. All the time. I’d be quiet enough to get the gist of the conversation, and then I’d let a comment rip that’d bust a few guts. People would compare me to folks like Paula Poundstone and David Letterman, which was nice, but didn’t tell you much about me. It wasn’t until you were lucky enough to get me alone for a long late-night chat that you’d see there was much, much more beneath the surface.

Which, I guess, was what I began to think was the problem. How do I go from being this girl who’s just funny all the time to being someone real, I wondered. And I’m not sure I ever really figured out the balance. How much truth is too much? Well, I’m probably too honest and open for my own good these days, but no one can accuse me of not being real anymore.

I sort of decided the solution was simple. Instead of censoring my thoughts, I’d just say them aloud. Or write them. (Hence this always-variety-filled blog.) I’d be the human version of Nike. Instead of just doing it, I’d just say it.

Nowadays I vacillate wildly between flippant and profound, be it at work, with friends, or on here. I’m still funny, but I suspect that the witnesses to my next proverbial inferno would think I contributed a little more to the mix than just some one-liners and comedic pizzazz.

And balance is all I wanted, since, after all, I still think calling someone “funny” is one of the best compliments you can give. Laughter never hurt anyone. I’m a laugher, not a hurter, baby.