Read Part 1, "Are you serious, Clark?" here.
One of the reasons I love National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation—and Little Miss Sunshine, incidentally—is because the characters respond to difficult and/or ridiculous circumstances exactly how you would want to respond if social conventions and reason didn't typically prevail.
In NLCV, Clark Griswold's Norman Rockwell–like expectations for holidays are confounded by his unenthusiastic (at best) and imbecilic (at worst) extended family. After a series of holiday-festivity flops—including the untimely demise of the painstakingly chosen Griswold Family Christmas Tree—Clark has reached a breaking point. En route to chopping down one of his own garden shrubs to replace the destroyed tree, Clark pauses to "fix" the newel post.
To properly use this quote, a series of events beyond your control must bring you to a breaking point. Hyperbole and a Half describes this process as the Sneaky Hate Spiral. Once at the breaking point, the next thing to go wrong will seem laughably easy to rectify. When you move rapidly from intense, desperate anger to preternatural composure, it's time for the quote.
Real Life Application
When Noah and I moved out of our apartment to our house nearly four years ago, it took forever. I was in the early stages of pregnancy and throwing up all the time, so we couldn't accomplish much without my needing a lie-down. We couldn't afford movers, but we had a month of overlap between our apartment lease and our first mortgage payment, so we decided to move in stages.
After several taxing trips in the midsummer heat over the course of a few weeks, Noah went back for the final sweep of the apartment. Easy peasey! Not so fast. In the time since we'd moved out, a colony of fleas had moved in and infested the carpet. Noah couldn't even grab the last few boxes of office items without being dang near eaten alive. A trip to the store for flea bombs and two hours later, Noah was finally able to go in to finish things off.
That's when he spotted our couch—secondhand, with large swaths of fabric chewed off both arms by Cody. It all came rushing back: Cody's resistance to being housebroken, the heat, fleas, wasted time and money. In a superhuman effort of hyperrationality, Noah took a small hatchet we kept in the outdoor storage for firewood and hacked the couch into pieces which he then casually deposited in the dumpster across the parking lot.
When he finally made it back home—bloody-knuckled, flea-bitten and sweaty—there was only one thing to be said.
"Fixed the newel post!"
Unfortunately, I must admit that I've never seen this movie from start to finish. Could we perhaps hang out soon and rectify my gross cultural oversight?
Kat—DUDE. I think a Christmas in July party is in order.
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