When Anna forwarded me this Onion piece about a father messing up a Princess Bride quote, I could not stop laughing; like the best Onion pieces, it was funny because it was painfully, painfully true.
The Onion piece describes a well-intentioned father who attempts to impress his kids with his knowledge of random movie quotes and, of course, ends up failing miserably. "At dinner he started waving his wine glass and yelling, 'irreconcilable!' over and over again in this sort of Elmer Fudd voice. That's not even the right speech impediment," the fictional daughter, Erica complains.
My family communicates in joke form: we are not a super affectionate people, and growing up, we expressed our love for one another by making fun of each other or going back and forth with random movie quotes or impressions of people we'd seen on television. For a long time, I believed that this was the norm for most families, until I had my first boyfriend, who insisted upon hugging me at all times and couldn't quite understand why I'd rather just give him a high-five and moonwalk away like a total idiot in the hopes of making him smile. The relationship did not last long. Either did the moonwalking, as my friends staged an intervention and tried to explain the difference between "amusing" and "annoying."
Still: it's amazing to me how, to this day, the bulk of my family conversations are still peppered with ridiculous pop-culture references and stupid jokes. Even in the darkest times, my family has relied on a line or two to lighten the tension: when I was hospitalized for anorexia five years ago, I'd call my parents and give them updates on my progress. "My heart rate is low, my weight is steady, and the nurse has finally stopped yelling "Are you constipated?" to the entire floor in the morning," I'd say, "So I got that going for me, which is nice." My father, as scared shitless as he was, would always laugh.
I know that some families have sit downs and long talks and express their feelings in that way, but we've always shown interest in one another by picking up on each other's pop-culture loves: my mother suffered through modern rock radio when I was in high school, even though she didn't care for it, if we were traveling in the car together. At night, I'd hear her humming Nirvana's "Lithium" as she put the dishes away, which made me laugh, and, at 15, made me feel like my mom was connecting to me in some way, even if she didn't realize it.
My father and I have a similar relationship; we bond over music and stupid movies and seem to understand each other based on the lines of fictional characters. There is something quietly reassuring in having the ability to make another family member laugh: in a way, you're able to get out the things you can't say by repeating the same damn quotes you've used a million times before.
Unlike the father in the Onion piece, however, my dad rarely misses a quote; in fact, his pop-culture memory is a little too good at times. I took him to see Fellowship of the Ring when it first came out, and every time an Orc came after Samwise Gamgee, my father would lean in and whisper, "Why are they attacking Rudy? He just wants to play for the Irish." Which, of course, would send me into a fit of laughter and the patrons around us into a fit of shushes and dirty looks. But nothing is going to stop my dad and I from throwing stupid references back and forth. For that's just the way my family chooses to communicate. Anything else would just be
Area Dad Botches Princess Bride Quote [The Onion]