April 4, 2018

three, sir

"... Who, being naughty
in My sight, shall
snuff it.  Amen."
Monty Python's Flying Circus led me to My People.

My childhood and early teen years were spent devoid of any trace of geek culture.  When you're born a predisposed geek, and there is no geekdom to be found, you know there is something wrong, but you can't put your finger on it.  None of my peers was the least bit geeky.  Dungeons and Dragons was an inane Atari 2600 game.  I'd never heard of Magic: The Gathering.  I didn't watch Star Trek.  PBS stopped airing Doctor Who when I was young.  I hung out at the library a lot, and the librarian said I was probably too young to read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, when it caught my eye, and I wouldn't "get it."

Comedy Central came along when I was sixteen, and that is when I discovered Monty Python.  They aired episodes, and then I found there were loads of them at our video rental store, a line of VHS tapes I'd never given a glance before.  I'd had no idea the back wall was lined with treasure.

Sometimes, my mother would try to watch an episode with me, and then she'd leave the room shaking her head after five minutes.  She didn't get the humor, nor why I was about to shit myself laughing at things that were not, to the non-geek, funny as hell.  It turns out I was as foreign to her as the show was.  I still am.

I read the Hitchhikers' Guide omnibus edition when I turned seventeen, and was thereafter mad as a mailbox of hornets at the librarian for discouraging me years before.  I read it eight more times, just to be sure I'd read it.

It was during my freshman year of college that I developed a loose hang-out-style association with a couple of quiet, long-haired guys who introduced me to MP and the Holy Grail.  I devoured it.  I had thought there were only episodes; discovering their movies took it to the next level.  They quoted the entire thing while we were watching, and soon, they had me doing the same.  Where had these people been all my life?

Our World History professor showed it to our class later that same year, in an attempt to harness the humor of the rampant anachronisms for didactic purposes.  Only two of us "got it" and the rest kept looking at each other, exchanging glances of mutual torment.  I remember craving popcorn and enjoying their discomfiture.  It was wonderful.

In my twenties, I found that knowing bits of the movie served as a form of underground handshake or secret password to ingratiate myself, and I found geeky friends and geeky friends of friends, online and in cities bigger than my hometown.  They were out there.  They were waiting for me, holding the door and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch and a trove of belonging.

It's proven true that most of the people who have extended the gift of their friendship to me can quote bits of the movie, or they at least speak of it with fondness.  It's also true that P.J. out-geeks me without breaking a sweat.

To the Pythons:  Thank you, sirs, for the penguin on top of the television set, for the Church Police, for the wattle in the bottle, for the frozen-stiff parrot, and for teaching me about the extensive variety of cheeses in the world.  I've sampled a few.  You did more for me than making me laugh.  You led me to My People.

No comments:

Post a Comment