Facetious: joking or jesting, often inappropriately.
Sarcastic: a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain.
Sardonic: disdainfully or skeptically humorous : derisively mocking.
Merriam-Webster attempts to distinguish these words, but not well. Listed as a synonym for sardonic is ‘sarcastic,’ though I do not believe that to be the most accurate representation of the words. My quandary is that I am trying to figure out how to classify my potential response to the mail I received from my father today. The single-paged document was a printout of their current cell phone bill, showing the Email & Web for Smartphone service charge of $29.99. The only thing written on it was an arrow to the $29.99 fee and “Please pay. Thanks.” in my father’s handwriting. I drafted a response:
I received your request today for payment on your current cellular phone bill. Inasmuch as Verizon bills their service in advance, the charges listed therein should no longer be applicable due to the removal of the phone number xxx-xxx-xxxx on August 3, 2010. The data plan would no longer have been required as of said date. However, as it is an optional feature on the account, it might behoove you to verify that it is no longer being billed with the removal of the Android device, so that there is no future billing for the service. It might also be a good idea to have the feature prorated to the August 3rd date, Verizon willing. As the billing period began on July 29th, total monies due for the period 7/29-8/3 would be roughly $5 (+ any applicable taxes/fees). Since I no longer have access to the online account (it follows the phone number itself), please let me know if you would like me to submit a check to either yourself or Verizon for that amount.
The two questions that remain are: (1) How exactly would I classify my attitude in this correspondence, and (2) how will it be received? The latter is really independent of the former, but for my own general information, I’d like to understand how I feel about it. (And a hidden 3rd question: Do I have the balls to hit ‘send’?)
Am I trying to be funny? No, so facetious appears to be out off the bat. It teeters on sardonic due to its mocking tone — it will without question be perceived as mocking, and I am fairly certain that the comment, “she’s her mother’s daughter — cheap” will accompany the receipt of the message. I always appreciated when he ridiculed her in front of me. (<–sarcasm).
So I guess what that really leaves is sarcasm. As much as I would rather it not be sharp or designed to cut, it fundamentally is. It was an attempt at professionalism, but I feel as though giving it that tone automatically makes it sarcastic. And how could it not? If anything, it’s 1,000x better than my original response (which was not actually drafted, but posted as my Gchat status): Dear Dad, Feel free to deduct the $29.99 you have requested from the remainder due me from my grandfather’s house sale, to wit: $90,000.00. Please remit difference of $89,970.00 at your earliest convenience. XOXO, Linda. Now that, my friends, is facetious (yes?).
I can’t get into the whole house-sale thing, because it still makes me want to vomit and punch babies simultaneously.
As a co-worker commented, this sounds so much more like a quarrel between friends than anything between a father and a daughter. I agree with her, which makes it harder to find the “norm” for correspondence like this; there just isn’t any.