Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Geeking to extremes

Monty Python veteran turned historian Michael Palin recently wrote a book about the doomed Arctic voyage of the Erebus.He held a lecture at Saint Francis College in Brooklyn Monday night, so of course, I jumped at the chance to attend.

Seeing as I work bizarre hours, (after treating myself to an egg cream and matzoh ball soup at Katz Deli) I arrived there an hour and a half early. I figured I'd check out the venue before perhaps grabbing a beer. I walked towards the auditorium, and an elderly man with a kind and gentle face walked back down the hall towards me.

"Excuse me," he said in a British accent as he pointed towards the auditorium, "but are you involved with all of this?"

Now, I've met various celebrities in my life, but anyone who knows me knows what a complete Monty Python nut I've been since my teenage years. And here was my favorite member - one of my life-long idols - standing only a few feet away, waiting for me to put a few coherent words together to form a sentence.

"No," I managed to say as I extended my hand, "but I've been a huge fan of yours all my life." He took my hand and gracefully shook it. How could I explain to him about the happy times I had had with like-minded friends and family, listening to Python albums, and watching everything from Flying Circus to A Fish Called Wanda? How could I explain that in the 1980s, passing another geek in the hall and whispering "Wait 'till Biggus Dickus hears of this!" was the nerd equivalent of drawing an Ichthys (aka "Jesus Fish") in the sand - making life just a bit less lonely?

"I just wanted to say," I said, "thank you for all the years of laughter, you've spread a lot of happiness in the world."

The poor man, faced with yet another possibly crazed American fan, just smiled and said, "Oh... Thank you." He suddenly seemed embarrassed that I had come so early, as if - incredibly - he were putting me out in some way by not being ready. I assured him that he wasn't, and went outside to text all my friends and family - like the nerd that I am - that I had just actually met the one and only Micheal Palin.

Hey, at least I managed to refrain from singing "I'm a Lumberjack" or "Every Sperm is Sacred."


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