why i shouldn’t speak without permission
June 10, 2008
You know how sometimes you think you know someone, and you think you know what you can say to them, and more importantly, what you CAN’T say to them, but sometimes you are SOOOO totally off in your assessment of what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate that really, someone who DID know should have stopped from you talking by cracking you on the head with the flat side of an electric carving knife?
No? Well then, this probably hasn’t ever happened to you. But it’s really the story of my life.
You know that scene in This Is Spinal Tap, where Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiner) is interviewing Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), while Nigel plays the piano? Nigel the sex-crazed brainless rock n roller is playing that beautiful, lyrical, meandering melody, and when Marty asks him about it, and compliments it, Nigel says it’s actually part of a musical trilogy he’s working on. And Marty again tells him how lovely it is, and asks him what it’s called.
Soon after Kim and I got married, way back in 1990, we spent Thanksgiving or Christmas (can’t remember which) in Chicago with her parents (and her 5 younger siblings). Kim comes from a fairly, um, conservative family, and her dad, with whom I’m good friends TODAY, NOW, was, back then, a bit doctrinaire, and even a little dogmatic. Okay, a LOT.
But, me, I wasn’t so much. I grew up with a very religious dad who told me dirty jokes and took me to R rated movies.
Anyway, I like movies. A LOT. They form a large part of who I am and make up a pretty big chunk of my conversation and vocabulary. And I think This Is Spinal Tap is one of the best five comedies ever made. And this piano-playing scene is one of the funniest scenes in one of the best five comedies ever made.
So I’m sitting next to Kim’s dad for a big holiday family meal, nine of us gathered around a huge table, and I’m sitting between Kim and her dad, whom I really want to both get to know, and impress with my wit and table conversation. He has just finished telling me how much he likes Blazing Saddles, so I want to let him know, Hey! I’m hip to movies, I like the funny. But he’s never seen This is Spinal Tap. Of course, I declare this to be simply outrageous for a movie lover like him, and I start telling him about my favorite scene.
“And so Marty is asking him, what’s the piece called, and Nigel doesn’t seem to hear him, and keeps playing this magical melody, this soothing piano piece that sounds like background music for a wedding reception, and blathering on about how it’s part of a musical trilogy or something and how D is the saddest key, and how it’s come kind of combination of Mozart and Bach. Like this:
[Nigel is playing a soft piece on the piano]
Marty: It’s very pretty.
Nigel: Yeah, I’ve been fooling around with it for a few months.
Marty: It’s a bit of a departure from what you normally play.
Nigel: It’s part of a trilogy, a musical trilogy I’m working on in D minor which is the saddest of all keys, I find. People weep instantly when they hear it, and I don’t know why.
Marty: It’s very nice.
Nigel: You know, just simple lines intertwining, you know, very much like – I’m really influenced by Mozart and Bach, and it’s sort of in between those, really. It’s like a Mach piece, really. It’s sort of…
Marty: What do you call this?
I say to Kim’s dad, “So Marty asks him, “What’s it called?” and Nigel finally answers.
“Well, this piece is called “Lick My Love Pump.“”
Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!
I can’t identify ALL the signs of disapproval or disgust or dismay, but I’m pretty sure the face Kim’s dad made right then indicated that he had just thrown up in his mouth. And maybe on his chin a little.