As 40Watt said in the last post…
Don’t you find this in people who lack a sense of humor? I wish I knew how to explain adequately what I mean when I say that. It’s as though they get stuck in childhood. They learn that certain things (supposedly) are “funny” and repeat them over and over. How many knock knock jokes have we listened to from young children, or silly riddles, or all these damn things crossing the road? We “humor” the child simply because they are children in the process of learning.
Most children mercifully do learn and develop a more sophisticated sense of humor: they understand wit, see the funny side of incongruity and so on. I suspect intelligence plays heavily into whether or not this development takes place.
People who don’t develop a sense of humor in this way hold onto the “they thought this was funny before so I’ll say it again (ad nauseam)” concept that animates the kindergartner telling knock knock jokes.
Well that got me thinking. In Ireland, we have a thing known as slagging.
In America, positive reinforcement comes in clearly marked packages. Parents are told to tell their kids they are special and unique. Bosses are told to tell their staff how valuable they are and what a great contribution they make to the company.
(feck you big font)
In Ireland, we’ve always tended to gift-wrap our positives somewhat differently. We do it by insult. The closeness of Irish friendships — particularly Irish male friendships — can often be measured by how egregiously the friends insult each other. Incompetence, ineptitude with the opposite sex, shortness, tallness, fatness, skinniness, hairiness and baldness are all highlighted to tighten the bonds of mutual affection.
Few other cultures do that. In Ireland a salesman can tell his team he’s finally landed a big client and the team will say, ‘glad to see you’ve finally pulled your thumb out, Mick’. But Mick will know what’s meant is, ‘we’re proud of you’. We undermine each other to reinforce each other.
Also and too…
Slagging is an Irish custom that can be easily misunderstood when you are not used to it. Slagging can be described as a heavy-handed form of teasing. In a weird way, it has something to do with bonding or showing affection without saying so.
If you can take a good slagging, then you are acceptable. If you can give a slagging back, you are considered good company.
Don’t take offence if somebody ‘slags’ you. It is a way of being familiar with somebody, and a way of checking you out, where your limits are.
Slagging is usually good natured, even though it might not sound that way at first. Slagging can also be a great leveller bringing you right down to the same level as your conversation partner.
So, my advice is, pay it back. Find a way to slag the other person. But don’t become vicious or outright offensive. That’s not what slagging is. Slagging is a careful balancing act on the edge that does respect the other persons’ integrity.
The best example I can think of is when I was researching my Ph.D. There was a guy called Jerry across the bench from me. He was a wild one! He had long curly hair and a girlfriend. He used to regale me with tales of his latest sexual exploits…I remember the stairs scene vividly!
Everyday we used to go into the lab and insult each other, and we loved it. In fact we lived for it. But, we knew where to draw the line. We never once went too far. Jerry came to my wedding, for the afters only, as we were poor as mice and couldn’t afford to invite the whole country. We all went out on a fishing trip in Cork the day after the wedding (hubby’s bright idea) - and Jerry gawked his guts out over the side of the boat while wearing blue suede shoes. That was good slagging material… Elvis!
You see, the old hooah becomes vicious and offensive. And I don’t know why the fuck she is so prickly. I suspect it is because we all laughed at her. And she hasn’t progressed through life experiences to adulthood simply because she has no experiences to relive. She is an empty shell and a vicious little bitch that never grew up.