Earlier this week I was talking to my class about a scene from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I always try to tie the literature in with contemporary bits of pop culture that are more familiar to teens, especially with a novel as old as Twain's masterpiece. I mean, it was written "back in the day."
Anyway, there's a part in the book where Tom and Huck have dug a tunnel into the shed where the slave Jim is being held captive. They forget to close off the outside end of the tunnel, so when another slave brings food in for Jim, the dogs smell it, rush into the tunnel, and appear from under the bed in Jim's shed. This causes chaos and makes the slave bringing the food believe he's being haunted by witches.
Whenever I read this scene, it always reminds me of the end of the holiday classic A Christmas Story. Remember when the Bumpus hounds get in through the open back door, knock over the turkey, and proceed to maul it? "BUMPUSSES!!!"
I threw the connection out there. About 2/3 of the class nodded along, grinning. But a few of them looked at me like a had a boog hanging. "What? I have no idea what you're talking about. I've never even heard of that movie."
These weren't kids who had just moved to this country. These were lifelong Americans! Is it me, or is there something unpatriotic about not having seen this flick by the time you're 10 years old?
During the month of December, it runs on TNT roughly 40 times. That's not an exaggeration. It was on last night, the 9th. They play it on repeat all day and night on Christmas and Christmas Eve, if I recall correctly. Whenever there's a break in whatever sporting event we're halfway paying attention to, we flip to TNT and halfway pay attention to A Christmas Story for awhile. You can jump in and out at any time, because after all, we've all seen it dozens of times. I assumed every family had a variation of this ritual.
Alas, that's not the case. I quizzed my three other American Threads classes, and there were always seven or eight kids who hadn't seen the movie. Thank God, the ones who had were just as apoplectic as I was, and would recount their favorite scenes to the bewildered ones, incredulous that none of moments would spark a memory of the greatest American Christmas film.
Here's what we came up with. Feel free to add your own at the end:
-When Ralpie's little brother Randy falls in the snow while wearing his oversized red jacket, can't get up, and whines, "C'mon, Ralphie...ooohhhhh, Raaaalphiieeeee." My wife and I often use the expression "Oh, Ralphie!" to express whiny frustration.
-When Randy "eats like a piggy."
-When Ralphie freezes on Santa's lap until just before he's kicked down the slide, with Santa's final admonition, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid."
-When Flick gets triple dog-dared to stick his tongue to the frozen flagpole and accepts.
-When Ralphie, after dropping the lugnuts, utters "the mother of all bad words," and claims he heard it from Flick instead of his profane father, resulting in an over-the-phone beating for the perplexed and terrified Flick.
-The way the red-headed bully (with "yellow eyes") is always accompanied by the music from Peter and the Wolf.
-Ralphie being forced to wear the bunny suit. "He looks like a pink nightmare!"
-Everything about the leg lamp. "It's a major award!....Oooh, fra-gee-lay. Must be from Italy!" My friend Derek and I started calling each other Fra-gee-lay sometime in junior high. It continues to this day.
-The Chinese restaurant on Xmas. "Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra."
Nolanometer Final Grade: A-