My fifth grade boyfriend – otherwise known as the kid I held hands with twice and wrote smiley-faced notes to – had an adorable habit of rapping along with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air opening theme. In fact, I’m fairly certain that’s why I fell in fifth-grade-love with him. He was cute, he was taller than me (a real feat until I was about fifteen), and he made me spit milk out of my nose when he said, “yo homes, smell ya later.” I was pretty sure we’d get married.
I was equally impressed by my father, who could quote just about every line from The Big Chill and Risky Business. I think I was four when I first used the phrase “I’m being chased by Guido the killer pimp” assuming everybody said it. In the 90s I ventured out on my own, memorizing virtually every line from Pretty Woman, Clueless and Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. It felt quite powerful being able to speak hooker, Valley Girl and flake. Bottom line: knowing movie quotes was cool.
Then in 1998 a very scary thing happened that changed my mind forever – the movie The Big Lebowski was released. At first I assumed the world was referring to the cult classic Hey Dude from Nickelodeon’s golden years, but the “dude”-speak spread like poison oak since that fateful year and continues to grow exponentially more than ten years later. Late night college weekends were infested with guys cracking each other up as they acted out the same bowling alley scene over and over, boyfriends whipped it off the shelf as the antidote to my requests to watch the Notebook, and just three days ago my best friend’s fiancé gagged and bound her to the couch and made her watch it for the first time – while undoubtedly beating Jeff Bridges to every mediocre punch line.
The madness took a brief hiatus in the mid-2000s when Ron Burgundy and his leather-bound books entered the scene. Aside from a brief “ooooh a Vince Vaughn movie!” moment on a plane in 2005, I’ve somehow avoided seeing the entire feature. Yet I can shamefully quote more lines from it than necessary. Time passed, and across the nation MySpace headlines turned into Facebook status updates touting, “I’m kind of a big deal.” But the run was short, and we’re swiftly back to The Dude and his occasional acid flashbacks.
I was hoping Wedding Crashers or 40 Year Old Virgin or The Hangover might alleviate the pain, but a few swift “you know how I know you’re gay”s and a couple “stage five clinger”s later we’re back to… The Dude.
I tried to beat them, I tried to join them, and now I must admit defeat. Jeff Bridges wins, and I’ve officially started prescreening my dates by looking through their DVD collections.