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Pay me if you've heard this one before


TWENTY-FOUR/SEVEN

Last update: January 12, 2005

There is an upsetting trend that's been developing over the past few decades, a change in our social interaction that is slowly crippling our ability to meaningfully communicate with each other. We have run out of people to make fun of.

On the face of it this is a good thing. Our language frames our thoughts, and the words we choose can affect how we perceive those around us. People who are "physically challenged" seem more deserving of our respect than people who are "handicapped" or "crippled." "Mentally ill" is far more polite than the somewhat less clinical "whack job." And hurtful names for ethnic groups reveal our unconscious biases, especially when three of them walk into a bar.

But now, thanks to the tireless efforts of shrill, self-appointed language police everywhere, we've matured. We respect all humans regardless of race, color, size, or peculiar sexual inclination. We love all man-and-womankind equally. And we're bored silly.

Can't make ethnic jokes. Can't make fat jokes. Can't joke about blondes or midgets or lawyers or nymphomaniacs or old people. So, OK, yay for us, but now what? How do we fill this void in our collective sense of humor? How do we satisfy our deep, inner need to cruelly mock others?

Never fear. I'm here to help.

As of this day I declare myself to be Smablurkian. And I welcome your abuse.

"Smablurkian" is a race, a religion, a nationality, and/or a lifestyle, whatever fits your needs. Want to tell a Smablurkian joke? Go ahead, I won't sue. And that's a promise. No ACLU press releases, no protests outside your building, and no angry letter-writing campaigns, even if you send your buddies the e-mail about the drunken Smablurkian and the nearsighted cow.

You've heard about me. I trip over cordless phones. I take a ruler to bed to see how long I sleep. I'm so ugly my mother had morning sickness after I was born. I climb chain-link fences to see what's on the other side. My parachutes open on impact, I spend hours trying to get my family out of a locked car, and I never water ski because my lake doesn't have a hill in it.

There are no federal regulations forcing you to hire Smablurkians. You don't have to rent me an apartment or let me into your fraternal organization. Go ahead, discriminate against me all you want, you'll feel better.

As a proud resident of Smablurkia -- a country so small my dog can't wag his tail without a passport -- I spend my days alternately foolishly chasing after the loose and spectacularly ugly Smablurkian women or gathering together with a few thousand other Smablurkian citizens to ceremonially replace a light bulb.

Keep me out of your schools, I don't mind. Bar me from your daughters, your social circle, your executive board. If your own disappointing life is getting you down, just get together with your buddies, drink some beer, and tell each other how I lost $50 on a sports bet ($25 on the play, and $25 on the instant replay). Bam! Instant self-esteem without any of that annoying and time-consuming self-growth.

Call me a dirty smab, a stinking blurkie, a hairheaded blurko, whatever you like. I'd love to be the cheerfully stereotypical mascot for your sports team or the eccentric foreigner in your sit-com.

Jeer at my wacky religion and laugh at my amusing accent. It seems like every convenience store clerk, cab driver, and Welfare recipient is Smablurkian these days, doesn't it? Discuss my mother's improbable weight and my daughter's hilarious disabilities. Collect pages and pages of Smablurkian jokes and trade them with your friends!

All I ask is that for every joke you tell, I get five cents. I think that's fair. I'll accept everything you've had backing up ever since the country decided it couldn't take a joke, and in return you put my goofy, slack-jawed children through college.

It's good for you. It's good for me. It's good for the other minorities that will all move up one in the pecking order. And it's good for the proud, non-litigious name of Smablurkia.  


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