When The New Yorker was funny years ago there was fun in spotting the comments they'd make that followed something that appeared in print that either was quite funny by itself, poorly phrased and therefore left with a double meaning that they pounced on, or came with a typo of some kind that changed the message completely. I used to like this part of the magazine when I read it in the 60s and 70s.
The urge to make fun of something has never left me. E-mail is a great source for faux pas pouncing. People's command of the written word gets laid bare a bit when they set out to write what they might have said. It also leaves a permanent record of what they said. There's no quick correction that comes your way as when they're speaking and suddenly realize they've made a mistake, maybe touched off by the funny face you just made.
So, when a woman I used to work with wrote something to the effect, "to bare with her" I couldn't help but tell her she might be inviting someone over who was willing to take their clothes off with her if she was. Not necessarily myself, because I did know what she really meant.
This produced a return e-mail that left off with, or started with, the 'lol' notation--what most people by now know means laughing out loud.
Surely 'lol' can be annoying. But I don't write much e-mail and therefore don't get much e-mail. I myself don't use it, but when I do get it from those who are acknowledging humor, I get a kick out of it. These are people I know, and who I've seen and heard laugh at things I've said. So, I genuinely believe they're telling me they're laughing. I like that.
These little opportunities don't come your way too often, but when they do, you have to pounce. Quickly, while what they wrote still means something to them.
So, consider when this same person wrote to fill me in on a detail about something they were trying to tell me when we met a few days before, but forgot. This can sometimes be like getting an answer from Rain Man to a question you might have asked hours ago. You really don't know what the hell they're talking about.
But not this time. A little intro freshened the memory and they told me over the weekend they had gone out on the Island to Mill Neck, near where there was a school for the dead.
No tantalizing typo goes unanswered. I of course quickly wrote back: "Wow, they must be a challenge to teach! Do they give them homework? When is it due?" There was more I could have written, like, "do they come to school every day?", but I had to act fast.
They in turn acted nearly just as fast, but not until they told me they meant 'deaf.' I knew that. I looked at keyboard. Somewhat like a Gilbert and Sullivan piece, the letters are much alike that close together.
But they closed with LMAO.
I could have Googled it, I guess, but I tried to decipher it, and got nowhere. I gave up. Since it might still be possible to keep this exchange going, I wrote back that I didn't know what that hell that meant.
Laughing My A** Off came back.
I felt like I had just been given the Mark Twain award for humor. No one had ever replied with a 'LMAO.' I told them so.
The bar's been set at a new height. Lol is just a period. LMAO is an exclamaton point!