'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
BB GUN AND CHRISTMAS MOVIE FUN
My family has a tradition of spending the month of December watching Christmas movies. Well, we don’t spend the WHOLE month of December watching Christmas movies; we are forced to set aside a little bit of time during the month for sleeping and using the bathroom. (When I finish installing a remote video monitor in the bathroom, we no longer will have to hit the pause button when someone’s bladder is about to burst.)
Anyway, our favorite Christmas movie by far is “A Christmas Story.” This is the actual name of the movie, but hardly anyone ever uses this name. Most people refer to the film by other names, such as the “Ralphie and Randy” movie, or the “BB Gun” movie, or the “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” movie, or “Gone With the Wind.” (Some people understandably confuse a Civil War drama set in Georgia in the early 1860s with a Christmas comedy set in northern Indiana in the early 1940s. A common mistake.)
If you’ve seen the movie, you already know it’s the nostalgic and hysterically funny story of young Ralphie’s desperate attempt to convince his parents and Santa Claus that an “official Red Ryder 200-shot range model air rifle” would make the perfect Christmas gift. But his mom, his school teacher, and even a department store Santa offer the dreaded anti-BB gun warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out!”
In the meantime, his wacky dad wins a “major award,” a garishly lewd leg lamp, complete with fishnet stocking, which he proudly displays in the family’s picture window.
If you’ve never seen the movie, then everything I say here makes no sense. (Go ahead, say it: “Just like every other week, Dunn!”) On the other hand, this movie is on TV so often—one cable network actually shows the film each year continuously for 24 hours beginning on Christmas Eve—if you’ve never seen the movie it means you’ve spent the last two decades living in a cave.
My family and I love this movie primarily because of author Jean Shepherd’s memorable dialog. We regularly quote lines from the movie to each other throughout the entire calendar year.
For example, if we’re at a big family picnic in the summer, and we overhear a relative say something obscene, my daughters and I will make eye contact, smirk for a moment, and then recite in unison, “My father worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium. A master.”
Moments later, when we realize a hush has fallen over then entire picnic and dozens of relatives are staring at us, wondering what in the world we just said, there is only one thing to do. We recite in unison, “They looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.”
Whenever anyone in my family unwraps a gift, whether the occasion is a birthday or Father’s Day, and whether the gift is a sweater or jewelry or a power tool, as soon as the wrapping paper is torn away, the person receiving the gift squeals in a high-pitched voice, “Wow! Whoopee! A zeppelin!”
And whenever anyone in my family is angry at another member of the family, the seriousness of the situation is diffused (take note psychologists) when someone wails, “Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie!”
If you think this behavior is odd, you are being way too sensitive and “fra-GEE-lay” about wholesome family fun. And if you don’t like it, then I “double dog dare you” to stick your tongue to a frozen flag pole.
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