Often my mind works in quotes. “My friends, you bow for no one.” or “How about a magic trick?” These sorts of things bounce through my brain like pin balls. Sometimes I tilt, and get sucked into pop-culture mayhem. I don’t know if this is a twenty-first century disease, but I do know that it plagues me.
I sat down at the table with a plate of mash potatoes. My very first thought, even before butter or salt or silverware was: “This means something.” Then I formed the potatoes into a replica of the Devil’s Tower. My colleague sitting next to me had no idea what I was going on about.
Then, when I heard a friend of mine issue a tiny little squeak of a cough, I instantly thought: “I think I have the black lung.” He got it, and a series of Zoolander quotes ensued.
I’m lucky in that my wife gets most of these. We have the same humor level and watch mostly the same films. Likewise, my fellow teachers at school are geek inclined. Yet when did conversation turn into requotes from movies or television? It’s almost like my mind has become a twitter stream and I’m in constant retweet mode.
I find this frustrating as a writer because I dare not let this stuff slip into my pages. First, this stuff is so dated that it becomes obsolete within a few years. Second, this type of trivia is specialized. Only a few close friends will get all the references. Not an idea situation for young readers who don’t understand how cameras can work with film.
I can so relate! My friend and I grew up listening to Bill Cosby records (yes, records – I’m that OLD!) Whenever we get together, some things instantly remind us of a line from one of his skits. One of us will quote it and we’ll both convulse into fits of giggles, leaving everyone around us scratching their heads. I think, though, that it runs in the family. My nieces and nephews are constantly coming up with quips from movies and YouTube videos that I haven’t seen and, like my friend and I used to do, burst into hilarity, stopping barely long enough to try to explain what they find so funny.
You are right, of course, that unless you are writing a vintage-era story, slipping in any of those little quotes would not always be understood by your readers. It also reminds me of ‘Demolition Man’ with the radio station that only plays ‘oldies’, which are basically just commercial jingles from the twentieth century!
Of course when your kids try to explain that YouTube video, it never seems as funny as they see it.