Smart Ass

My sarcasm has always landed me in trouble at some point in my life.  One time I told a rare book librarian, who was helping me find some art for my office, that I’d just rip a few leaves out of the Audubon elephant folio and hang them up with thumbtacks.  She didn’t speak to me for weeks and watched me like a hawk for years.

Then another time I was comparing the fall of the Western Roman Empire to urban flight in the 1950s and 1960s and I was accused of being a racist.  It wasn’t the comparison that was the problem, it was something snarky I said about the city of Camden, New Jersey.  You know, about not wanting to live there.  No one wants to be there, but a resident was personally insulted and I apologized.

And then I met a high powered individual in the Provost’s office who asked me, “So tell me about yourself.”  And I answered with the infamous Steve Martin line “I was born a poor black child.”  Attempts at humor don’t always break the ice. You know what I’m sayin’?

And then there’s cancer.  I was with a bunch of friends having dinner and having a good laugh over this cancer business, and my friend suggested that I take my stand up on the road to various oncology units.  “You should,” she said.  My response “Hey, this is a tough room. What’re ya dyin’?” sent us into peals of laughter.

I honestly don’t know what I would do without my dear friends and a sharp sense of humor.  It is the single thing that is saving my life.  Because, at the end of the day, there’s equally as much to laugh about with cancer as there is to cry about.

For one thing: the complete and total absurdity that a bazillion of us are blogging about our tits.  We all take different approaches: photography, poetry, essays, or the dissemination of public health information.  Each blog is as unique as the individual.  Some are good and others are okay, but they all serve a great purpose in personalizing this bizarre and sick experience that is cancer and helping each and every one of us deal.  But at the end of the day we’re all just blogging about our tits.  In an existential way that, to me, is hilarious.  If you would have told me that I would one day post a picture of my right bazoom to the World Wide Web, I would have written you off as a loon.  Now, who’s the loon?

When I first discovered the film Boob, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Who knew that some funny and talented filmmaker had created a short film about a boob that kills people. Brilliant!

Or the fantastic piece from The Onion about Eagle Scouts doing breast exams for their scout project?  The rude and unhelpful receptionist from Little Britain captured with uncanny accuracy the telephone etiquette of my surgeon’s staff and the treatment by my former oncologist’s staff.

When I first started blogging—two months ago tomorrow—I thought it would last a year, tops, and then the thing would just hang in cyberspace forever while I was free to thumb my nose up at cancer and live my life.  But, as is my luck, I get an upgrade to metastatic breast cancer and now I’m stuck keeping this thing up until I’m dead.  What a pain in the ass.

On the face of it, there’s nothing really funny about any stage of breast cancer.  It’s fucking scary and rotten that any of us have to sacrifice our hooters—our lives!–to an unrepentant jerk off like cancer.  So, yeah, today it’s two months since the diagnosis.* Much has been learned, new friends have been made, and I learned who my family and friends are (and are not).  Nobody gets out of this carnival alive, folks.  But if I don’t make use of the sarcasm that I have forged into one of the sharpest and deadliest weapons that I will ever have, I’m as good as dead yesterday.

Embrace your inner smart ass.  It will keep you alive longer.

* NOT a cancerfuckingversary.

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23 Responses to Smart Ass

  1. anomar13 says:

    I was out of town at Mayo (visiting my favorite docs), when you posted this. I think this is my favorite so far. It is so true that humor IS the best thing we can use to help ourselves. My sarcastic mouth has gotten me in trouble more than once, but now it has really come in handy. When I started telling people about the cancer, their reactions were depressing. Much more so than my own. One of my best friends and her husband (who is very sarcastic and funny) were looking so sad, I thought they would cry (hate that). Her husband is a well-known “BOOB MAN”-always making a comment about his wife’s big boobs, my big boobs, ANYONE’s big boobs. He looked like he didn’t know what to say. I promptly interjected that I would ask the docs to save my breast in jar after removal, just so I could bring it home for him. He laughed, his wife laughed, and we’ve been back to our old selves ever since. Humor keeps us sane, sarcasm keeps us alive, and being a smart-ass is important to balance off all the dumb-asses out there that you come in contact with. Love all the comments on this one too!


  2. Love this! It’s all too serious and shitty – sarcasm and laughter are much needed relief. And you might be happy to know that other cancers are funny too (although yeah, boobs definitely take the cake!). I was told that I got the “good cancer” (Hodgkin’s lymphoma). So that’s pretty awesome – didn’t know there was a good cancer, so thrilled I was lucky enough to get it! Happy to share your blog!

  3. BlondeAmbition says:

    Scorchy — your blog is pure brilliance. We can all relate to these absurdities and it’s refreshing for someone to point them out! I look forward to keeping up with you! (Thanks to Nancy for posting about it!!) : )

  4. I honestly think sarcasm not only keeps you alive yourself, but those around you alive, too. My smart assery has probably saved me from numerous aggravated assault arrests, homicides, vehicular manslaughters, you name it.

  5. I’m SO happy I found your blog (thanks, Nancy!). I’m such a fan of snark, and I’m not sure I’d have survived this hellacious cancer “journey” without it. I’m with ya on the often misunderstood aspect of sarcasm, but yet I persevere. Can’t wait to read more!

  6. Sarcasm is the BEST. I am pissed off there isn’t a “universal sarcasm font” for the bloggers to use. Someone did point me there but it involves way too much brain power to figure it all out. I need them to incorporate the S button right next to the ones that say B I U …..

    Love this ….. Thanks Nancy for pointing me here……

  7. Nice to have found your blog (thanks, Nancy). Rather unexpectedly, I have become an old-timer at this – 11yrs. But I still remember that when I called my brother to tell him (first family member I called), after “oh, well shit”, he told me a joke – something about somebody losing a leg & someone wanting to buy all his right shoes. We then spent most of the call making other jokes – could I get a job a Hooters? maybe they could call it Hooter….
    My feeling is, whatever gets you through the next moment is good & nobody who isn’t directly facing their own death should ever be offended (although they often are). BTW, love, love, love your cover pic!

  8. MBS says:

    Scorchy, you’re killing me! Oh no, that’s the cancer.

    My humor frequently fails to reach people, too 🙂

  9. Now that you mention it, it is pretty unbelievable what we say and “show” in our blogs isn’t it? I just spotted yours the other day and I love it. Humor can get you through a boat load of crap.

  10. Knot Telling says:

    Yeah, not funny. Cancer. Illness. Death. Serious Issues. A posted No Joking Zone, by regulation.

    On the other hand? Totally hilarious. Like when I was first diagnosed and went in for the mastectomy and all these med students and interns kept coming into my room and basically asking if they could feel me up. How bizarre is that? Especially when you factor in the part about me being a nun in an old fashioned full habit… (Yes, really.)

    Then there was the time that I went to get my teeth checked while I was having radiation treatments and the dentist covered me up with the lead apron so that I shouldn’t get any radiation on my radiation burns, God forbid. I started laughing really, really hard and he and the assistant just sort of stood there looking concerned, which made me laugh even harder.

    Humor has always been one of my major defense mechanisms (she said, waxing serious) so it’s kind of fortuitous that I have breast cancer. It’s much harder to make jokes about a pancreas, for example, or the lymphatic system.

    You know what? It’s my body, my cancer, my death and I’ll laugh, cry and make bad jokes if I want to. Nya-nya-nya.

    (I warned you that we are more alike than different!)

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