Malnegation in This American Life
Posted by Neal on July 2, 2009
Don’t read this post unless you’ve already listened to this week’s episode of This American Life, or you don’t care about hearing it. For a few more days, it can still be downloaded for free here; after that, it’ll cost a couple of dollars.
The final story in Episode #384, Fall Guy, is from Shalom Auslander. He tells a story that is sad and sick, yet disturbingly funny. He tells about how, for reasons of both expedience and petty vengeance, he takes to secretly peeing on the floor near his diaper-wearing, Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandmother’s bed, and eventually on other areas around the house, knowing she’ll get blamed. But in a surprise development, he comes home one day to find that his parents have actually blamed his dog Noodles (whom they have never liked) for the house smelling like urine, and have taken him to the pound. Auslander is anguished and outraged. He says:
It wasn’t just that they had punished the wrong person. It was that they had punished the wrong wrong person. Sure, okay, yes, I was peeing on the floor. But Grandma was peeing in her pants. The only one not peeing where he was supposed to was Noodles.
Those embedded negations’ll getcha: What he clearly meant to say was: The only one not not peeing where he was supposed to was Noodles.