What Did I Just Read

There’s a class of humor that’s built around misreading things. Not in a deliberate way, though I’m sure there are professionals, and even some amateurs, who exaggerate, stimulate, and even fabricate their own misunderstandings, but in a dyslexic or just tired and worn out way. I’m not going to give you any examples right now, because, well, I’d have to fabricate them and I just kind of said that that’s cheating, but you know the type.

People post online, “Am I the only one that read that as…” It’s a two pronged bid, and for most of the people doing the posting, it’s win-win. Either they were the only one, so they’re unique and special, or they weren’t the only one and so they’re part of a group, they belong. God tells me that she’s the only one she knows that never reads anything the wrong way. I’d add, “not that she’s bragging,” but actually, I think she was bragging.

But for the rest of us, reading “am I the only one that read that as” is usually a cue to cringe, because what follows, nine times out of ten, just isn’t as special as the person posting it thinks. It’s often the ultimate “you had to be there” thing, because the “there” where you had to be is actually in the world inside the person’s head; to really appreciate their misreading you not only needed to read it wrong but you needed to read it wrong with all the baggage that their particular life had placed not only on the word that they misread but on the word that they were supposed to have read in the first place. I posed this theory to God, to see if she thought I was on the right track, and she told me that I was kind of right, but also kind of wrong. See, she does get to be there in people’s heads, she does get to experience the moment with all the person’s personal baggage, and she says that most of the time, it’s still not that funny.

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