Those of you who know me, know that I am capable of being a smart-ass (I know, I know, not exactly a major revelation, right?). My babymama told me once or twice (or maybe seventy times seven times; I lost count) that being a sarcastic smart ass was my greatest talent (now, mind you, she was being a sarcastic smart ass whenever she would say it, but according to her, this was my fault, due to the apparent Svengalian hold I had over her that made her become a smart ass against her will), a "compliment" which I accepted with great humility and honor...
Those of you who know me also probably are aware of my tendency to (over)analyze things. What can I say, I just a need to break things down, pick them apart and try to garner some explanation (even when none is necessary) or meaning (even when none exists, except on the most trivial scale).
And now that I have reminded you of two of my more prominent proclivities, allow me to indulge myself for a moment and put said proclivities to work for a moment by introducing my terminology of what it means to be a smartass:
Smartassedness The condition of being a smart ass. Smartassedness is something that comes naturally to us smartasses. It is not forced or done for effect, and it is not done with any intent to hurt anyone (though occasionally another can be hurt by it). Being a smartass for the purpose of intentionally hurting someone isn't smartassedness, it's mean-spiritedness (or if you prefer, jackassedness or maybe assholishness). Trying to come up with smartassed comments for effect or to create a persona for oneself isn't smartassedness, either; it's fakeassedness...
Smartassery A smart-assed comment or action. The best smartassery is something that is created in the mind of a smartass without much effort or any contrivance. It either rolls off the tongue (or the fingers) reflexively, or comes to mind while waiting to speak one's turn. It does not require any planning on how or when to strike; it just happens.
Smartassery doesn't have to be just words either. The late comedian George Carlin, in one of his standup routines, told the story of how he was sitting on a park bench, and there was a section of newspaper sitting on the bench underneath him. Another man came and sat next to him and asked if Carlin was reading the paper. Now Carlin could have been a jerk and called the guy all kinds of stupid for asking whether he was reading a newspaper he was sitting on. Instead, he simply said, "Why yes, I am", stood up, turned a page on the newspaper, and sat back down on it. Classic smartassery.
See, smartassery is often a more tactful way of addressing or responding to someone who has asked, said or done something you consider objectionable or silly, without hammering them with the psychological blunt force trauma of a direct, angry, tactless, mean-spirited comment. A good piece of smartassery will hopefully cause amusement or thought, rather than anger or hurt feelings (although if you're dealing with someone who is overly sensitive or in a bad mood, or who just doesn't like you to begin with, then all bets are off). But let's be clear, we smartasses aren't saints; when dealing with someone he/she doesn't like, it is certainly not out of the question for a smartass to impulsively unleash a bit of smartassery that serves no purpose except to stick it to the recipient.
One final word about smartassery: like most things in life, it is best enjoyed and most effective in moderation. As much as I enjoy a good piece of smartassery (even when i am on the receiving end of it) someone who overdoes it will have me and everyone else wishing he/she would just STFU. Thus there will be times when a smartass will need to let an opportunity to use some smartassery go by the wayside; after all there is a time and place (and smartassery target) for everything, so you gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em. Besides, unused smartassery tends to get stored in the recesses of a smartass' mind, to reappear later when needed. Good smartassery never truly goes to waste.
Smartassitude A state of mind where one's smartassedness is heightened, and in which a smartass will be especially prone to unleash smartassery on others. When in a smartassitude, the smartass must be especially carerful not to go overboard with his/her smartassery, as the impulse will be strong to overdo it, both in frequency and intensity. What brings on a smartassitude will vary from smartass to smartass; perhaps the smartass is going through some hard times, or maybe someone pissed him/her off, or maybe it's just a matter of being in the presence of someone the smartass can't stand. Whatever the case may be, the smartass has to keep the smartassery in check, lest he or she veer out of control and work him/herself into a state bordering mean-spiritedness.
So there you have it, my guide to being a smartass. Hopefully, you have a little better understanding of smartassedness, and can accept our smartasseries for what they are: just good, clean, (hopefully) thought-provoking and smile-inducing fun. Don't take us smartasses too seriously, or our smartasseries too personally. And if you happen to catch me in a smartassitude and I go a little over the top with my resulting smartassery, I give you my sincerest apology. And if none of that is good enough for you, well I don't know what else to tell ya...a smartass has gotta be a smartass...