Neil Diamond, whenever he sang
Would end lines with odd rhymes like “brang”
The audience cheered
Every time he appeared
But the critics all said that he stank.
My daughter was working on writing a limerick for a 4-H project (which she abandoned in favor of, I think, open verse). She and my wife and I were dining at a Mexican restaurant, and I was explaining some basic conventions of limericks. By tradition, for example, most of them were filthy and involved unwholesome sexual activity. That the last line should form some sort of punchline. And on a deeper level (did I just say that in a paragraph about limericks?), you could do things like make the same kind of mistake that the limerick was criticizing – in the sense of fun and to get the point across – as I did with the example above.
Fortunately (or un-), my daughter has inherited much of my peculiar sense of humor, and while we were batting ideas back and forth, she kept trying to write a limerick that was darkly humored. I told her that I didn’t think the medium suited that kind of message well, saying, “There’s no such thing as a Goth limerick.” No sooner was that out of my mouth when my subconscious took up the challenge, and between forkfuls of enchilada, I came up with:
A dour young goth chick named Ella,
Had found she could not keep a fella
She looked in the mirror
And said with a sneer,
“It’s not like I still had rubella.”
At which time I pointed out that, like this example, most of the time limericks were just plain dumb. Although this has to be the first time the word “rubella” has ever been used in a poem.
(And I did write one about sexual activity – and got away with it because the subject was Roger, the head rooster in our barnyard. If you find that you can’t live without seeing this one, you can read it here.)
Here’s an unrelated postscript. Remember how a few weeks ago I talked about how forgiving a readership could be of flaws in a story if the ending is sufficiently powerful? Here’s an amusing article that makes the point another way – by saying that sometimes – especially in the case of Science Fiction – we forgive things that are just plain dumb because we want to believe. Call it suspension of disbelief. At any rate, this article explores “Ten Dumb Moments in Sci-Fi Cinema” – and briefly discusses why we don’t care that they’re dumb.
(link courtesy Viking Pundit)
NP – iTunes, Stan Ridgway playlist (“Operator Help Me“)