Thursday 11 September 2014

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

 “He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.”

I've encountered these Joseph Heller types before--no, not similar writers per se but actual people who have come across my path at various social gatherings (especially when drinks are flowing and intellectual conversation is in great demand), reminding me why I rarely go out anymore because the experience is usually unpleasant. At some point throughout the evening after people have mingled for a while, eaten some fancy o'dourves, gulped down several glasses of wine, taken too many shots of hard liquor, become bored of talking about the weather or what reality television program they are watching, all of a sudden someone in the group will become the center of attention--not because this particular individual is loud or making a drunken scene; rather, they exude wit and sophistication outmatching anyone else in the room, possessing the capability to spin fabulous, outrageous stories and causing shock-waves of laughter from the party-goers who are astounded by the onslaught of hilarious jokes, executed with the perfect punch-lines. Of course, most of the guests will laugh at just about anything by this point due to the consumption of alcohol. Nevertheless, the speaker revels in flattery and self-gratification. It is as if the avid listeners are under a magical spell as they continue to laugh, and laugh until some are laughing so hard they spill their drinks or fall to the floor in epileptic fits of hysteria. Meanwhile, someone like myself who is an introvert, who would much rather stay at home curled up with a good book, never wanting to come to this party in the first place but ends up being dragged by some friends, happens to be nursing a carbonated beverage while quietly observing the entire ridiculous scene. 

Seriously, please stop talking. Yes, you are eloquent and clever but have been telling the same joke over and over again! You were mildly amusing at first but now I must resist the urge to throw my glass in the general direction of your head to knock you off that pedestal. My friends might find your antics hilariously entertaining but they seem unaffected by the law of diminishing returns. You made your point quite clear at the beginning but seem adamant to drill the argument home within different contexts and comedic sketches. You are fond of satire and paradox. You are in love with irony. War is bad. The military is insane, those in power are insane, soldiers are driven crazy by war. A solider can't be grounded because he thinks he's crazy and no one can vouch for his level of craziness because everyone else is crazy. It's a Catch-22. Yes, I heard you the first time, a Catch-22. Ok, I get it! It's a bloody Catch-22!

AHHHHHHHH!!!! I can't force myself to listen to anymore of your incessant rambling. I don't find these contradictions, breaches of communication and misunderstandings in your jokes to be funny anymore. It's annoying. Are you familiar with that Abbott and Costello routine "Who's on First?" I'm sure you do. Because you've been using that same set-up for what seems like an eternity! I'm so tempted to start taking cinnamon-whiskey shots and perhaps then you might be tolerable but unfortunately I'm the designated driver tonight. I'm going outside for a smoke until you eventually have to use the restroom to unload your bladder and then I'm grabbing my intoxicated friends and we are leaving. 

This novel is part of my Classics Club Challenge.

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