I can remember when I saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the first time. I was young and had to go with my parents to a Filipino party at some family’s house that I can’t remember now. There were a bunch of cool and hip Filipino teens there. They were the type of teens who knew about cool stuff. Stuff like the music of Depeche Mode and The Cure, the strange allure of a wrist heavily adorned with black jelly bands, the inherently rebellious nature of Dr. Marten’s shoes. I perceived them as dangerous. It was intoxicating. I wanted to be cool just like them, but (as every fat kid will tell you) it’s not easy being cool when you rock corduroy pants in size “husky”. Thus, the mantle of “cool dude” sorely out of reach, the only other option was to be down with cool stuff. Stuff that the cool kids liked. Stuff like Monty Python.
So, here I am. Laughing like an idiot at the knights that say “NI!”. I have no idea as to what’s so funny about this. None of it. Honestly, none of what I’m seeing for the first time makes me laugh organically at all. Not the “it’s just a flesh wound”. Not the “farting in your general direction”. Not the holy hand grenade of Antioch. Literally, nothing gets to my funny bone. Yet, I’m laughing like it’s the funniest thing that i had ever heard. I look around and everyone is losing their god damned minds over this Monty Python shit. I’m laughing right along with everybody. Laughing louder than anyone else, thinking that if I laughed hard enough, every cool dude in the room would be thoroughly convinced that I was definitely getting these jokes. Each feigned peal of laughter was yet another plea for acceptance; I just wanted to laugh with these cool people, our common ground supremely established. Just me and some cool dudes, just doing what we do, which is laugh at Monty Python.
Fast forward twenty years later and I find myself at the Lincoln Center in New York City. My wife and I are patiently waiting to be seated for a screening of the John Waters classic, Polyester with no sense of irony whatsoever. I am genuinely a fan of John Waters and this will be my first time seeing Polyester on the big screen. They’re also passing out ODORAMA cards; cards with 12 specific “scratch and sniff” areas that are to be scratched and sniffed as the movie prompts us. I am stoked.
I look around and I see the crowd that this type of event draws out. It’s like an island-of-misfit-toys style collection of weirdos and nerds and I am amongst them. Amongst us. I am we. I can’t help but think back to that first time seeing Monty Python with the cool Filipinos. Are those of us gathered for Polyester the cool kids? Is there a young fat kid amongst us, looking up to the dude who has an encyclopedic knowledge of every character in every John Waters film and who plays them with sparkled revelry? Is there one amongst us who is laughing hysterically, hoping that some other person notices and thinks to themselves Man…That guy gets it! I hope not, but I also know better. There has to be a person like that in here. It’s New York Fucking City.
Cool dude or not, if you think that anyone other than yourself gives a shit, you’re an idiot. Literally, nobody cares. There is no movie that makes you cooler or less cool, it’s all lame anyways. Better to be brave enough to love what you love. That’s what makes you cool.