True Fact: I met my husband, Patrick, in a Monty Python themed chat room in 1997.
We were both 16. It was a Saturday night. I had just suffered a humiliating setback in my quest to become the Pennsylvania High School Speech League champ (Humorous Dramatic Interp Division) when one of the original eagle-embossed buttons flew off the placket of my vintage 1970s lawn green airline stewardess dress during my inspired delivery of the climactic John Cleese “This is an ex-parrot!” rant from Monty Python’s “The Dead Parrot Sketch.”
It was the final round of the quarter final. I was the only contestant NOT doing a piece by Christopher Durang. (And one of two not doing the same selection from “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls” by Christopher Durang). I had been enjoying a palpable synergy with the three judges until the unfortunate wardrobe malfunction, when two of them, who happened to be Sisters of St. Joseph (high school forensics draws primarily from Catholic schools for some reason) visibly recoiled from the unintentional keyhole effect over my now visible cleavage. The one on the right had already looked askance at my vintage go go boots (they were totally in dress code. I checked.), soo…
I came in fourth of six that day. The top three went onto the next competition. Dejected, I picked the errant button up off the floor of a dour math classroom at Elizabethtown College and climbed back into the team van, resolving to spend a self pitying evening listening to the whinier output of Nine Inch Nails and hanging out on Monty Python’s Flying Talker, which is TOTALLY WHAT ALL THE OTHER COOL TEENS IN NEW OXFORD, PA DID ON SATURDAY NIGHTS IN 1997. (It is not what any of the cool teens did in 1997, in New Oxford or elsewhere). My tendency to hang out on Monty Python’s Flying Talker concerned my mother is a vague sort of way, as it was common knowledge that 95% of the people who hung out on the Internet in 1997 were sex pervert trucker ax murderers.
To make a very long story very short, Patrick arrived in the States from South Africa in November of 2000, dramatically ripped up his return ticket in January of 2001, and married me in 2004. He has proved to not be an ax murderer. So far.
Given the factors that fostered the birth of our relationship, it of course made sense that we would attend last Sunday’s simulcast of the last ever Monty Python show at our local cinema. Patrick suffers from a sort of nervous condition that will probably be named after him if it is ever officially recognized by the APA, but for now we will just call it Acute Secondary Embarrassment Syndrome, or ASES. I have witnessed him spasm and shrink into himself, almost as if he is trying to retreat inside his own body, merely by being in too close proximity to an overly precocious twelve year old advocating loudly in a smug voice for a greater appreciation of anime. The documentary “Trekkies” caused him to visibly cringe so hard he may have cracked a rib.
Terrible fake English accents by Renaissance Faire patrons have been known to cause Patrick to pull his shirt collar over his face. He will crouch on the ground moaning, “Oh, Godddd!” if those accents are talking about dragons.
But do you know what triggers Patrick’s ASES more than anything else in the world?
That’s right. Other Monty Python fans.
He was nervous heading into the theatre, and prepared to bolt if confronted with an exuberant Silly Walker or coconut clanking bathrobe wearer. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the others waiting in line to go into the showing were mostly middle aged couples who had just enjoyed a nice lunch and were happy to pass the time talking about the great beach houses of Connecticut they had known instead of reciting “The Argument Sketch” verbatim. He relaxed a bit. I felt comfortable leaving him alone for a bit to run to Lush for a quick restock of some skincare staples. On the way back, I was distracted by a display of Ramones T-shirts in the window of Forever 21. (Yes. I am aware that I am supposed to be offended by the presence of Ramones T-shirts in Forever 21, because “The Ramones are a band, not a T-shirt!” I get it. However. Ramones T-shirts at Forever 21 means more Ramones T-shirts for me, so its a win as far as I’m concerned). I was eyeing one up with an intention to buy when a small man with a sinister looking mustache appeared at my shoulder and said, “You like? I buy for you!” and I got scared and ran away because I am an adult.
That’s when the text messages started.
They had come.
They silly walked into the queue. Then they launched into jokes about coconuts, followed immediately by “The Dead Parrot Sketch.”
“oh god oh god oh god,” he texted me.
By the time I made it back to the theatre beads of sweat had started on his forehead and he was eating popcorn in a way that would have made me very afraid, were I a piece of popcorn.
They were sitting against the wall on his left side. And they had started reciting “The SPAM Sketch.”
I think he might have bolted if the house doors hadn’t opened just then. He’d be alright, he said, as long as they didn’t sit near him.
They sat right behind us.
We survived, and had a pretty good time, except for the brief moment of panic when Patrick realized he’d left the tickets for the Queen concert we would be attending directly after the Python show at home. We both teared up over the absence of Graham Chapman, arranged for my sister to transport the Queen tickets to us, and began preparing for the next big event of the day, which was navigating our way into Merriweather Post Pavilion to find a good seat on the lawn behind a girl wearing a white denim romper, fake Louboutin knee high boots with spike heels, and carrying a large Turkish rug. I can only assume she had never been to a concert before. Ever.
Princess Jasmine and her rug disappeared into the crowd, and we eventually found a spot behind a girl who was attending with her family, and also her boyfriend, who was sporting an ankle monitor the likes of which I have not seen since Lindsay Lohan in 2007.
We briefly debated why the young man might be wearing the bracelet and agreed that it was probably drugs, although I am still holding out for assaulting the patrons at a local TGIFriday’s with mozzarella sticks.
Adam Lambert was filling in for Freddie Mercury, and I must say that we were pleasantly surprised. He really communicated Freddie’s spirit without attempting any sort of ghoulish imitation, and the many tributes to Freddie throughout were quite moving. I teared up on a couple of occasions, because apparently nothing makes me cry like a dead frontman.
I really don’t have anything pithy to add…go check out Queen if you get a chance, think twice before serenading your fellow elevator riders with “The Sperm Song,” and please refrain from flinging mozzarella sticks at other patrons when dining at TGIFriday’s. Those things are bottomless now, so I understand the desire to do so, but RESIST.