Sunday, September 25, 2011

Whatchu Talkin' Bout Melly?

The other day while I was in the kitchen baking, my husband was watching TV and came across a showing of Caddyshack.  All of a sudden I hear Bill Murry say "so I've got that going for me, which is nice" which is something my husband says on a daily basis.  I came running out of the kitchen to ask "wait! is THAT where you got that from??" The look on my husband's face told me that I had just committed a mortal error.  He was appalled that I hadn't realized over the past six years that he had been quoting his beloved Caddyshack all this time.

I instantly blamed my family.

Let me explain:

My extended family is very close.  On my dad's side, my cousins, sister and I range in age from 21 to 35 with four of us born within 14 months of each other.   We were also very lucky to have parents who were/are truly committed to keeping our family together for holidays.  In our family, traditions were formed early and they stuck. 

One of my favorite traditions was for us all to jam into my grandparents' family room and watch a movie.  My grandmother had a very limited collection of videos and so we inevitably would watch the same 6 - 8 movies over and over again.  Sometimes, we'd even follow the viewing by all going down into the basement and re-enacting scenes (until my uncle declared "no more shows!".)  The result of this is that we ended up not only committing them to memory but quoting them and referring to them in our daily lives.

While my husband and seemingly everybody else in our generation grew up watching and loving every John Hugh's movie ever made followed by every National Lampoons movie, we were watching movies like Gunga Din and Sound of Music.  So while everyone around us quoted Caddyshack and Breakfast Club, we were (and still are) speaking our own language. 

Here are the top five movies we refer to when we're talking amongst ourselves.  Consider it your Bonardi to English dictionary:

1) Barefoot in the Park

I believe a total of 20 people in my generation have watched Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.  I'm related to 5 of them.  The movie follows the first few weeks of marriage for stuffed shirt Paul (Redford) and free spirit Corey (Fonda) Bratter.  I cannot watch this movie without thinking of my aunt Mary.  From the moment Corey gooses Paul in an elevator full of people at the Plaza Hotel, Mary's shoulders start to shake with silent laughter.   When Corey waves goodbye to Paul as he leaves for work after a week of being holed up in their hotel room, wearing nothing but his shirt and says - in full view of another elevator full of people: "Good bye Mr. Dooley, next time you're in New York just give me a call," her silent laughter erupts into a chortle and doesn't stop for the next 100 minutes. 

The sight gags as a host of visitors arrive at their new 6th floor walk up apartment (which also features a large hole in the sky light) gasping for breath sends the rest of us into peals of laughter.  Every time I watch - which numbers in the hundreds at this point - I notice something new during this sequence.  Look out for Paul stopping to lean against a wall, opening and closing his fist like he's having a heart attack; or the phone guy telling Corey that his name is Harry Pepper, if they ever have a problem, don't ask for Harry Pepper.  

The movie gets meatier as Corey tries to set her straight laced mother up with their international, womanizing neighbor.  A match Paul thinks will never work because "you've seen his apartment, he wears Japanese kimonos and sleeps on rugs.  Your mother wears a hair net and sleeps on a board" After the date doesn't go exactly as planned, the young couple fights and breaks up before eventually making up.  But the movie is so well written, the actual plot is secondary

We quote this movie A LOT.  But in most cases the quotes we use are to indicate a moment from the movie we are replaying in our heads, I've included a translation when applicable:
  • I can't make a fist - def: I've had too much to drink
  • It feels like I've died and gone to heaven. Only I had to climb up - def: I'm exhausted 
  • Bittah?? - def: You didn't like what you just ate did you?
  • You don't pick up a fork and dig into a black salad.  You have to play with it! 
  • If I'd known the people on the 3rd floor, I'd have visited them - def: Its really far away
  • It looks like a stoop, it climbs like a flight
  • Shamma Shamma - def: lets go be adventurous
  • I've got a case in court in the morning - def: I can't go out tonight
  • He's probably only 35, they age quick on this route
  • I have to know how much my rent is, I'm a college graduate
  • I'm not getting sarcastic, I'm getting chapped lips
  • I didn't say breeze, there's a brisk north easterly wind blowing through the room - def: I'm cold
  • She'll think we're gypsies living in an empty store
  • A martini to wash down a pill?
  • At 2 o'clock in the morning? - def: You've woken me up
  • You will not meet me here every day, the bus driver will think you're my mother
  • If the hardware store downstairs was open I was going to buy a knife and kill myself - def: I've had a rough day
  • We're sleeping left to right tonight
  • For Paul's parents I just wanted to look clean.  He's going to think I'm a nurse.
  • You should have told me about this, I'd have gone into training
  • I think I've broken some straps
  • If you don't hear from us in a week, we'll be at the National Hotel in Mexico City, room 703
  • I was watching my coat because someone else was watching my coat
  • You can't go, its the shank of the evening
  • Its not that kind of a club.  To sleep over I'd have to keep winning the serve.

2) City Slickers

This is a unquestionably a very popular movie, but every time I quote it to my husband he gives me a blank, questioning stare. He contends that while he's seen City Slickers a number of times, but doesn't deem it a quotable movie. I contend that he's crazy. The instant my family and I first saw this movie, we started quoting and referring to it repeatedly.

In case you haven't seen it, City Slickers is about 40 year old Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal) and his impending mid-life crisis.  His two best friends (The amazing Bruno Kirby and semi-tolerant Daniel Stern) take him on a real life cowboy adventure herding cattle for his birthday.  He's extremely cynical and sarcastic about the whole experience and hilarity ensues.   Blink and you'll miss it alert: don't forget wee little Jake Gyllenhal as Mitch's 10 year old son.  Thank God his voice dropped.  Such a cute little pip-squeak!

Every year on my birthday, I can expect my father or sister to call me up and recite Mitch's mother's birthday message - and I do the same for them.  I'm always shocked that I can't find the full written out message anywhere on the Internet and so last year for my husband's birthday I dutifully watched and re-watched the scene* where Mitch is lying in bed on his birthday and receives his annual call from his mother detailing the story of his birth - all while he mouths the words he has heard every year for 40 years.  I then posted it on Facebook for him since he was travelling.  A few minutes later, he responded with a "what??!?!" And then I cried a little bit. 

In order to avoid more tears, here are the quotes we most often use:
  • Value this time in your life kids**
  • You'll call it a procedure, but its a surgery**
  • Scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla.  Don't waste my time
  • Goood Party
  • Rummaki?
  • Helllooo?
  • This was NOT in the brochures
  • I've never moseyed before.  I've walked, run, jogged, even sashayed once but that was in front of the draft board
  • You put this on during drive time.  People are having accidents
  • The cows can do it by now!
  • What about the clock?
  • If it was us, could you eat?

* As I mentioned, I had to resort to watching the movie and transcribing the birthday phone call since I couldn't find it written out anywhere online.  To avoid having to do this 3-4 times a year, (and because I'm a dork) I saved it to my hard drive.  And now I'll share it with you:

City Slickers Happy Birthday Phone Call Quote

It's September 8th 1952, we're driving back from your Aunt Marsha's and my water breaks. Your father JUMPS the divider of the saw mill river parkway and RACES me to doctors hospital and at 5:16 out you came. [sigh] Happy Birthday Darling.

** Really, the entire career day monologue is gold.  We use parts of it interchangeably whenever we are feeling old or cranky about life.  Here it is in full:

City Slickers Career Day Monologue

Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you're a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, "What happened to my twenties?" Your forties, you grow a little pot belly you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You'll call it a procedure, but it's a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still loud but it doesn't matter because you can't hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before. And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering "how come the kids don't call?" By your eighties, you've had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can't stand but who you call mama. Any questions?

3) The Cutting Edge

Little known fact: I used to take ice skating lessons as a child.  According to my cousin Allison, I was semi-pro.  So when this movie came out in 1992 staring the super hot D.B. Sweeny, we HAD to watch it.  Over and over and over again.  Even now that we're all adults and the movie has spawned THREE!?! sub-par made for tv sequels, the cheesy goodness of the first one lives on in our daily vocabulary.  In fact, it was my cousin Anne and I quoting it back and forth to each other a few days ago that made me want to write this blog post.  (How Meta.)
The lines we use the most are:
  • Legano, nilegano. Eees grey area
  • Yes! Parlez-vous Olympics?!
  • Lorie Peckarovski?!
  • Namen Gita!
  • Toe pick
  • There is no halfway.  Halfway, you are dead.

4) The Secret Garden

My sister recently tore her ACL and while she was recuperating from surgery, I went over to keep her company and knew just the thing to make her feel better.  The Hallmark Hall of Fame's Secret Garden is quite simply a beautifully done telling of this classic children's tale of a little girl whose parents die while living in India and so she is sent to live with a distant relative (in the book the relative is her uncle.  In the movie he is just a friend of her father's) in his big creepy manor house on the moors of Scotland where she discovers a secret garden and a mystery.  My mother was visiting my sister that day as well.  She had never seen the movie and when we started, she was a bit skeptical but by the end she was smiling and watching with glee.

My grandmother recorded this movie from TV when it aired as a special back in 1988 but it is widely available at most Hallmark stores even today.  It stars the incomparable Maggie Smith and a host of adorable youngsters.  We all adored the sassy little Mary Lennox and the clever Cockney pronounced barbs.  I had a major crush on Dickon and I myself am often quoted as saying (in a pique after finishing a viewing one day) [spoiler alert] "Of course she chose Colin, he peppered her with gifts.  Poor Dickon never stood a chance!" Some of our most often used quotes from the actual movie are:
  • You cheeky little beggar
  • If we were in India, I'd put a snake in his bed
  • Please, can I have a bit of earth?
  • If you scream once more, I'll smother you with a pillow (she would too)

5) The Sound of Music

The memory of my childhood that will stick in my mind forever is of us watching the Sound of Music and then running downstairs and acting out the scenes.  My oldest cousin Allison was always Fraulein Maria, Leisl AND Mother Superior; my 2nd cousin Sara - as the only blond - played the roles of Louisa, Baroness Schreider and Frau Schmidt; I was Brigitta - the booky anti-social one; my cousin Anne - as 2nd youngest - was Marta; my sister was always Gretl since she too was the baby of the family and had the chubby cheeks that the part called for; and my poor cousin Nicky - as the only boy - was relegated to play EVERY male role... two of which are love interests to Maria and Leisle (both played by his sister) (we skipped those scenes.)

Every one of us can sing every song by heart.  If two of us are on a long car ride together, we've been known to put the sound track in and not only sing every word and hum every instrumental interlude, but do the motions like curling Rolf's hair during 16 going on 17 or holding the tops of our heads and pointing up at the end of do-re-mi. I know we're not alone in this.  There are whole tours of Salzburg and movie viewings where people sing along (btw I am DYING to go to the official Sound of Music sing-a-long... the one where people dress up.  It is on my bucket list.)  But its different with us.  I feel like we quote this movie in a bit of a short hand.  I can write in an email "it makes me want to cry" and every one of my cousins will read it hearing Marta's clipped over pronounced, pouty version from the movie.

Other favorite quotes include (but aren't limited to):
  • God bless what's his name
  • Fraulein, is it to be at every meal, or merely at dinnertime, that you intend on leading us all through this rare and wonderful new world of... indigestion?
  • What happened to your finger? It got caught.  On what? Friedrich's teeth.
  • Well, apparently, we're both suffering from a deplorable lack of curiosity
  • Only grown-up men are scared of women
  • It'll be my first party, father
  • Do you mean to tell me that my children have been roaming about Salzburg dressed up in nothing but some old drapes?
And the circle continues.  When my nephew came over to visit a few weeks ago, I promptly popped in Sound of Music for him to watch and it apparently wasn't his first time.  He bopped to the music and even stood up and marched in place while the Von Trappe children made their first entrance.  Now he just needs a few more cousins to continue the greatest tradition ever.  And I promise, I will never mimic my uncle Danny and declare "no more shows" if my kids and their cousins want to recreate a scene or two for me.

What were some of your favorite movies growing up or favorite movies to quote?

1 comment:

  1. You already know my love for The Sounds of Music. Ferris Bueller's Day Off was my other quoteable movie.