Irony has a way of sneaking up and exposing itself in some of the strangest ways. My English professor at Cypress College in Southern California first unveiled the nature of irony to me one day when he pointed outside his classroom window, drawing our attention to a large field where cows innocently grazed. “Irony,” he explained as he pointed out the Burger King joint visible from the other window, “is sometimes where we least expect it.”
Some of my favorite examples of irony still have me sitting here, cross-eyed and scratching my head. For instance, when I lived on the Windward side of Oahu, I used to drive by a shopping area that had an ominous chain-linked fence surrounding it. Attached to the fence was a single metal sign that in bold red letters proclaimed, NO SIGNS ON FENCE! Out of fear of arrest or worse, having my face on Hawaii's Most Wanted, I have managed to resist the urge to post a sign with an arrow pointing to it that says, EXCEPT THIS ONE!
Then there was the day I was riding on the Honolulu city bus on my way to the beach when I glanced up at the advertisement posted directly across from me: BLIND? VISION IMPAIRED? CALL 722-2222. Perplexed, I sat there for the duration of the ride, wondering how anyone blind or vision impaired would know that they could get help by simply calling that number. Years later, while shopping for a new kitchen sponge, I spotted one with Braille strangely printed on the package—without the dots raised—and thought, Hmmm, must be the same idiot who made the bus ad.
And how about the Hawaiian activist I saw on TV one night? She was talking about how she could not tolerate racism yet in the same breath, she blurted out how sick and tired she was of all the haole people (Caucasians), taking over Hawaii. Being hapa (half) haole myself, I felt offended as I thought about my haole father, risking his life during World War II to protect this small, defenseless island chain—strategically located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean—from the big bad bullies that would love to use it as a stepping stone to devour their capitalistic, Land of the Free, enemy.
I love the Land of Ironica, especially when I find myself living in it...like I am right now.