Saturday, July 08, 2006

I, state your name.

I'm 28 years old and my family has had a VHS machine for as long as I can remember. If you do the math (don't worry, I will), that means that we probably had the ability to watch movies at home from about 1980 on. Because the machines were so new, the whole genre of "kids' videos" did not exist. So, growing up we had about 5 movies that we taped off of cable that we watched over and over again. They are: Caddyshack, Blazing Saddles, Animal House, a great compilation of Bugs Bunny cartoons that including the compressed Wagner's Ring of the Neibulung and the one where Daffy Duck gets followed around by the artist who is constantly changing the scenery behind him (very postmodern) and the original Star Wars trilogy. (Yes, I know I counted three movies as just one movie to make a total of five.) It wasn't until I got to college and started studying child psychology as part of my education degree that I realized that the first three movies on that list weren't necessarily age appropriate. But, I distinctly remember fast-forwarding through the sex scene in Caddyshack because it was slow and boring so we must have had some self-defense mechanisms built into our 5-9 year old attention spans.

However, I do think that my sense of humor is forever pointed in one direction from so much exposure Bill Murray, Mel Brooks and John Belushi.

And I like it.

However, I'm not usually very good at making movie joke references in the middle of conversations. They just don't occur to me fast enough. I can rattle off lines back and forth with someone and at one point in my life, I knew all the words to "I'm sick and tired of love / Love from below and above" but I just can't find that fine line of making a comedic allusion that includes enough information to identify the movie to my conversation partners but in such a concise way that they conversation isn't stalled while I explain the scene to those who haven't seen it. So, I don't normally try.

However, in the last few weeks, both of my attempts at this form of conversational humor have felt inspired and have been pulled off successfully.

Several weeks ago, my roommate Paige and I had a "They're Smart Enough" party to celebrate our dual acceptances into hoity-toity schools of higher learning for our graduate degrees. Although only 3% of the party's population could be idenitfied as friends of mine (and this includes my brother's friends that he invited so that he wouldn't be totally bored) the underdogs had a good time. We also had a lot of leftover sausage. So, for many days afterward, Daniel invited his friends back to hang out on the porch (now devoid of intellectuals) and eat random sausages (once out of the package, it's hard to tell whether one is getting a bratwurst, italian or anduille sausage) that had been thawed and cooked on the repeatedly-lit grill.

I really enjoy my brother's friends. They're laid-back and interesting. They also have a good sense of humor. So, I spend the time on the porch with them but am not a huge fan of sausages, so often simply watch the gastronomical proceedings. So, it was not unusual for one of them to lean over and say, "Would you like another, uh, something sausage?" I was delighted to be able to reply with almost perfect comedic timing, "No thank you; fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit."

Only one person laughed but that was enough for me.

Two weeks ago on vacation with my family, we were standing in line at the Sea Shack, the restaurant where we ate at least four, if not five of the meals of our five day trip. We were perusing the white board that list the varieties of fish that they would grill, fry or blacken for us before they served it with the most exquisite side dishes I've tasted in quite awhile. One night I have a soft shell crab, another lunch I had scallops and another I had grouper, just to give an example of the variety that was available. So, to foster conversation, my father asks my brother Paul, "What are you going to have this time?" He responds, "Flounder." Again, I'm delighted that the perfect response occurred to me as quickly as it did. I ask, "Why flounder?" I was even more delighted when both my brother Daniel and my father burped and said drunkenly, "Why not?"

Sometimes the assist is just as good as the goal.

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