Discovering Life’s Ironies, or, How I Found My Fate Beyond a “Long Green Pencil”

“Ironic, isn’t it?” Shawn said.
“It’s not ironic at all,” Gus said.
“Dude, it’s so like a black fly in your chardonnay.”
“How many times do I have to tell you that’s not ironic, either?”
“Rain on your wedding day?”
“‘Irony’ is the use of words to convey a meaning that’s opposite to their literal meaning,” Gus said. “That stupid song came out fourteen years ago, and we still have this exact conversation at least once a week.”
“Yeah,” Shawn said. “Ironic, isn’t it?”

― William Rabkin, “Psych: A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Read”

 

When I was in the fourth grade, there was a writing contest that encouraged grade-school children to write a children’s book. The contest’s previous year winner was “The Long Green Pencil” by one Sara Werner. It was about a girl who finds a magical “long green pencil” to rewrite the way her parents are, but soon discovers she should be careful what she wishes for. Our teacher Mrs. Tobias read us the book cover to cover. The illustrations were lovely, and I recall the book cover vividly: a brown-haired girl holding the infamous long green pencil. I did a Google and Amazon search on the book; sadly it’s out of print.

After our teacher finished introducing the contest and reading the book, she said she would give more details and let us sign up for the contest during lunchtime later that day. Everyone was excited, thrilled at the notion of being published authors at the tender age of 9 or 10.

Lunchtime rolled around. My classmates and I got our lunches. As soon as they got their trays, they sat down to eat; my class filled up to five tables. Then, a teacher or the school vice principal announced that Mrs. Tobias has called us to go upstairs. Apparently, there was huge interest; all five tables had a mass exodus. Well, four of them were empty. As for the fifth table, guess who was the only one who sat there? Yes, yours truly, who at the time didn’t care about being immortalized in the literary world.

That was pretty early in my fourth grade school year. By the end of that year, I would have written a poem for a show-and-tell presentation that set me on my path to becoming a writer. Heck, I am a writer because I write.

So what’s the point of this story, other than it’s a real-life definition of irony? Just that — irony. At the beginning of the school year, I didn’t expect to pursue writing even as a hobby; my previous ambition was to become a nurse. But in that school year, probably because Mrs. Tobias awakened my dormant love of reading through her constant literary advocacy, I changed my career path. In my fifth grade yearbook, the last page listed every student’s name and the title of their career aspiration as grownups. Next to my name? “Author.”

“Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?”

Teresa Edmond-Sargeant is an Orlando, FL-based poet, author and former reporter originally from northern New Jersey. During her time as a journalist, she won two NJ Press Association awards. She is the author of her debut poetry book, “How Fate’s Confusion Connects” and a short story ebook “Eve the First”, now available on Amazon Kindle.

 

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