Barry Smith: Irrelativity |

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

Footnotes are the cornerstone of my particular writing style. I feel that no matter how many unrelated tangents and parenthetical asides you stuff into a bloated, comma-and-hyphen-laden sentence, there’s still so much more that needs to be said. Hence the footnotes.

But it has just come to my attention that, due to a formatting oversight, my intended footnotes for the past several years of my “Irrelativity” column have not been included in the published versions. No wonder people don’t seem to understand me.

Well, I feel it’s only fair to the reader that they get the full story, so pasted below are the footnotes from my columns published in the first half of 2005, when I first embraced my favorite literary crutch. I’ll be using this space for the next six months or so to catch up.

(Note: Due to space limitations, I won’t be citing the actual column that each footnote belongs to or the place within the column that it refers to. It should be pretty easy to figure out, though.)

• By “egregious,” I actually mean, “I don’t know what ‘egregious’ means.”

• Not his real name.

• I had always secretly wanted to say this out loud. Just not quite that loud.

• Wouldn’t that make a great name for a band?

• Joking. I’ve only eaten that many corn chips in one sitting once before in my life, and that was way back in high school. Corn chips were different back then. Not nearly as potent.

• Not his real name. It’s spelled the same, but I pronounce it differently enough that I feel confident that I’m protecting his identity.

• This was a common expression in my family. I never fully understood it but was scared to ask what it meant because it was always stated in such a matter-of-fact way, with undertones that only an idiot wouldn’t understand it. With many years to reflect, I’m guessing the cinnamon is supposed to represent something desirable and delicious, and its juxtaposition with the goose entrails is somehow meant to prove the absurdity of existence. Still, it just seems like such a strange expression to use when trying to make a point about an inherent mistrust of automobile mechanics.

• Not his real name. I’m even changing the name of the obviously made-up name he was using. I never found out his real name, so I guess the one I’m using as his “not his real name” name could accidentally be his real name.

• Funny story – the person who was claiming to be my identical twin for all those years turned out to be an impostor.

• Wouldn’t that make a great name for a porn star? You know, a funny one.

• How was I to know that this culture would react so strongly to seeing someone use dental floss? It took weeks before I was able to convince them that I didn’t have the power to control the weather.

• It wasn’t actually a badge but merely a flattened-out piece of aluminum foil. Weird how real it looked at the time.

• That was sarcasm. I know sarcasm doesn’t always translate well in the written word, even if you use ALL CAPS. And when you then have to explain with footnotes, well, whatever comedic impact you were going for is totally ruined. Feels a little too late to turn back now, though.

• Hindsight is always 20/20, but it seems like I should have known even at the time that attempting to build my own space shuttle would not turn out well for me. Or my neighbors.

• Wouldn’t that make a great name for a newly discovered sub-sub-atomic particle that looks like a happy-face emoji when viewed through an electron microscope and is later proved to be at the very root of life itself?

• I’d been saying this for years, thinking that I’d made it up myself, but recently someone pointed out to me that it’s actually the verbatim text of the first chapter of the Book of Leviticus.

• See attached.

• Wouldn’t that make a great name for an easily communicable but totally benign disease? You know, a funny one.

• Obviously I’m just joking. I would never actually use the word “nizzle,” especially not while addressing the pope.

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

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