Barry Smith: Irrelativity |

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

“Aha!” I yell, out loud, all alone, several times a day. “Now that is a great idea for a column.”

Each of these “great” column ideas gets jotted down and eventually assigned its very own file on my computer. And there they sit, these unrealized little kernels of brilliance, for months and months and sometimes years. The lucky ones get to experience life as an actual Irrelativity column, while the rest languish in the lonely dark corners of my “Writing to get done now” folder, yelling, “Pick me, pick me,” each time I open it up to poke around.

Every so often, like today, I do a little cleaning, tossing out all the files that I know I’ll never see through to full columnhood.

But tossing them out seems like such a waste, right? I mean, just because I’ll never bother to write them doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. So …

Irrelativity columns I’ll never write (but you should)

Idea: “CB Radio.” Here’s a column premise based on the fact that my van has a CB radio in it. Remember those? Didn’t think so. I suggest, when writing this one, that you focus on the humorous opportunities available when dealing with archaic communication devices. Perhaps liken having a CB to having a telegraph key on the dash or a trunk full of carrier pigeons. Also, when I was 10 years old, I wanted a CB more than anything in the world, and now that I’m an adult, I have one and don’t care. See? Pretty poignant stuff, what with the growing older and all that. CB radios are deep wells of serious emotion, good buddy.

Idea: “Dalai Lama vs. TSA.” I suspect that the Dalai Lama doesn’t have to fly commercial, but if he did, I wonder how he’d fare going through security at Logan Airport at 5 a.m? Would he be able to hold true to his conviction that “my religion is kindness” with someone yelling at him in a grating Boston accent, “All shoes off! Remove your belts, coats and scarves! Nothing in your pockets! Laptops out of your bags! You too, baldy!” For maximum humor, this column should conclude with His Holiness using a series of incredibly filthy swear words or kneeing a TSA agent in the groin. Or both, preferably.

Idea: “Screened Hard Drive.” Yes, another air-travel-based idea. How could you possibly have too many of these? My bag got searched flying out of the quaint and friendly Grand Junction Regional Airport. The woman pulled the LaCie Rugged portable hard drive, the kind with the orange rubber case around it, from my bag. She turned it over in her hands, looked at me and said, “What is it?” I told her it was a hard drive. She replied, “What’s it do?” She had never seen a hard drive nor even heard of one. Yet she was in charge of keeping explosives off of planes. Whoa. When you write this one, don’t be too mean to her because she really was very nice about the whole thing.

Idea: “Lassie the Cat.” Last summer, my sprinkler went haywire and was spraying into my open front door. I was upstairs and didn’t realize anything was wrong, but it freaked out my cat, and her resulting loud squalling alerted me to the situation. She saved me from some serious water damage to my floor. I think this story would make a great column about how dependable, loyal and helpful cats can be. But I can’t write it because I’m trying really, really hard not to write about my cat. So, when you write it, make sure you mention how cute she is and how smart and how she likes to ride around on my shoulders and how if I ever fell down a well she would, just like Lassie, definitely go for help. Provided there’s nothing around to distract her, like a bird or a bit of string or a sunbeam or an empty box or a pine cone or some invisible thing that only she can see.

Idea: “Spilled Coffee on My GPS.” Last year, I was on a long drive and pulled over to take a nap. Another nap. I was feeling a bit guilty for not making great time, and as I woke from my nap I imagined my GPS yelling at me for being a slacker. But what, I thought, would make a calm, detached, matter-of-fact GPS suddenly get aggro on me? Well … maybe if somebody spilled coffee on it. That’s it! An angry, impatient, heavily caffeinated GPS. The whole column spelled itself out in my head at that moment, word for word, but I was too tired to write down anything more than “Spilled Coffee on My GPS.” And now, so far removed from that moment, and no longer groggy from a nap, the idea doesn’t seem nearly as funny. Good luck.

Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times.

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