Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
There’s a file on my computer, in the “Writing in Progress” folder, that’s called “The Kind Spam.” Inside this file are three words, the same three words that make up the file name – “the kind spam.” The only difference between these sets of words is the capitalization.
For me, this is what passes for writing “in progress.” Occasionally I’ll have an idea – a great idea – and I immediately settle down and get to work on it. Or, really, I get to work on writing down the absolute barest minimum of it, and then I go and do something else, usually not returning to my great idea for months or years. This leaves me with lots and lots of these “in progress” files, files that, with proper care and watering, could have become full-fledged columns, with beginnings and ends and middles and jokes and points. Instead, they die on the vine, withered little reminders of the bountiful harvest that might have been if only I’d done a bit more fertilizing.
(Why, yes, I have been doing some gardening lately. Why do you ask?)
From time to time I like to clear out the “Writing in Progress” folder, removing all the files that I have to admit are not now, nor ever have been, in progress. But I can’t just throw them out. Not after all that work I put into them!
I vaguely remember the “The Kind Spam” idea – it was going to be a hilarious exposition of the junk email I’ve been getting lately, which is supposedly coming from girls telling me how cute their friends think I am. I’m not even sure what it’s selling. I’m just supposed to click on something to read more about their views on my adorability. This is much kinder than the old spam, which just yelled at me about increasing my penis and decreasing my mortgage. So that was the idea. Spam that’s kind. The Kind Spam. Hilarious.
Yeah, it was meant to be all that, but instead, it’s the first item in my semi-regular feature called …
Columns I’ll never write
• “hound your bliss”: You’re familiar with the whole “follow your bliss” idea, right? Well, wouldn’t it be funny to be a bit more assertive? Why merely follow your bliss when you can hound it? Ha! This file contains only two more variations, “badger your bliss” and “trap and skin your bliss.” At this rate I’d need to come up with about 225 additional aggressive bliss-following variations to reach my column word count. Which I was totally excited to do. Back then. But not now. Lucky you.
• “new expressions”: The plan was to run through some “new” expressions and discuss (hilariously) how I feel about them. It was to be a “these crazy kids and the stuff they say” vehicle. That’s me, always looking to break new ground. For some reason, though, the only thing I wrote in this file was “I have pictures of my grandfather wearing a jumpsuit – this was a good look. I hope it comes back.” Must have lost the old momentum somewhere along the way. This column will thankfully never come to fruition, but I do stand behind my jumpsuit comment.
• “personal scanner”: This file contains only the words “personal scanner.” I have absolutely no idea what it means. Due to the lack of title-case capitalization in the file name, I must have done a copy/paste on this one, which is when you know you’re putting in the absolute least amount of effort possible yet still convincing yourself that you’re “in progress.”
• “too much time on my hands”: I chose to utilize all of this supposed free time by typing “while getting a haircut” into this file. And nothing else. Ever. For years. Huh?
• “irrelativity ideas”: In the “Writing In Progress” folder is a folder called “Irrelativity Ideas,” in that one is a folder called “This Week,” and in that folder is a file called “irrelativity ideas.” In that file I’ve written “an open letter to people who write open letters.” Creating nested folders is a good way to avoid doing any actual work.
• “velour”: I actually wrote quite a bit on this one. It’s all about how I used to wear velour shirts to high school. From a word-count standpoint it’s almost done. In terms of content, though…it’s pretty much kind of all about wearing velour shirts to high school. So…
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