These things must be done delicately (J)

Humor – like beauty and the best choice in upholstery fabric – is often in the eye of the beholder. I have committed humor enough times to know that some people just don’t see it. As my friend Bob Langford used to say, sometimes a writer should insert (J) next to the funny stuff to give the humor impaired a hint. (If you are really humor impaired and have to ask, J is for “joke.”)

And other times, (J) doesn’t work. Because the writing really isn’t that funny.

Exhibit A: this in The News & Observer today. From the cliched headline to the ignorant catalog of every tired stereotype about Southern food, it’s lame. Yeah, yeah, I know – I should say what I really think. As The Hub always says, “You have so few opinions, dear, and you are so loathe to express them.”

I did think before commenting on this column. There have been cases where I wrote something that I thought was funny or funny but biting, only to get comments from readers that made me wonder if they’d read the same piece. But I don’t think that I just “didn’t get it” here.

It’s not that the column criticizes Southern food. There’s plenty to criticize – mock, even – about Southern food. That we would feed our infants bacon-flavored formula if we could get it, for starters.

But, as the Wicked Witch of the West said, it’s how to do it. That’s where the magic of writing comes in. Oh, yes, I know how difficult it is to conjure that magic. But I hope that I have never resorted to beating my subject with a shillelagh, and hope I never will.