Men say the darndest things
By Chris McKendry
Page 2 columnist
The following assignment came down from my editor at Page 2: During the week of Aug. 26-30, Page 2 plans to publish its definitive package on sports movies. ... If you have any suggestions or questions, please let us know.
I had a couple questions.
And that's when -- silly me ... I work with men! -- I remembered: Men will watch, debate and quote the same movies over and over again for eternity.
Women will never understand it. It's one of the fundamental differences between the sexes. Even I will never understand it ... and I exposed this manly secret last year when I wrote about The Things I Know Because I Work With Men.
Men have selective memories. Believing that men cannot remember birthdays and anniversaries just helps to perpetuate a convenient stereotype. Memorization is not a skill they're lacking. But playing dumb might be a choice they make. I know men who were born in the 1970s who can remember the most meaningless statistics from the 1960s. And not just numbers, but words and lyrics and entire movie scenes. For example, Mark Malone, Trey Wingo and Mark Schlereth think quoting "Blazing Saddles" and laughing for 10 minutes counts as a conversation.
Still, while my experience enabled me to identify this habit, it was beyond me to explain it.
Using -- or maybe abusing -- my insider status, I returned to my source: my lunch table, featuring on this occasion Trey Wingo, Mark Malone, Mark Schlereth, Dave Revsine and Mike Greenberg.
I asked one question: Why do men use movie quotes to communicate?
Here's what I discovered:
1. It's a Bonding Exercise
Mark Malone's penchant for old westerns endeared him to his teammates when he first joined the Steelers. Malone and a group of guys who liked Westerns loved "McLintock," in which John Wayne and red-haired Maureen O'Hara played a battling married couple. Malone says they had watched the film so often that any fellow "McLintock" afficianado could take either character and recite the lines while watching.
(In the SportsCenter newsroom, movie quoting is a competitive sport. Rece Davis, Scott Van Pelt and John Anderson -- huge fans of "O, Brother Where Art Thou?" -- fought to see who could get the George Clooney quote, "There are all manner of lesser imps and demons, but the great Satan himself is red and scaly with a bifurcated tail and carries a hayfork," on the air during SportsCenter first. Anderson won.)
2. Men Can't Express Themselves, and Need the Help
Scherelth jumps in with a story about his 16-year-old son, who's a typical teenager, meaning he's not the most talkative person in the world. But dropping a movie line they both find funny is family code for, "Everything's all right." For example, at the dinner table, if anyone spills anything, Scherelth says it's a race to see who can say, "Don't spill the salt, Harry ... do you know how unlucky it is to spill the salt." (From "Dumb and Dumber," of course.)
In other words, a shared laugh between father and son is similar to a real "heart-to-heart" between mother and daughter.
3. Nothing to Talk About
Women usually start by asking about another woman's children, clothes or shoes. And not necessarily in that order.
4. Fear of Intimacy
See, here's why I have trouble with this: if a group of women hang out and don't talk, then everyone thinks someone's mad.
5. Quotes Become Part of the Subconscious
This story and the "Arthur" quote triggered a Pavlovian response at the table. The guys started playing the time-honored classic -- Name that Quote. Many hours have been wasted ... I mean passed ... playing this sport. And here I was, watching yet another round.
"My name is Eniego Montoya. You've kill my father. Prepare to die." ("The Princess Bride")
"It's only a flesh wound." ("Monty Python and The Holy Grail")
"You'll get nothing and like it!" ("Caddyshack")
"Did you get a bowl of soup with that hat?" ("Caddyshack")
"Lighten up, Frances." ("Stripes")
"Surely, you can't be serious." "I am serious ... and don't call me Shirley." ("Airplane")
On and on they went.
And as I sat there, nearly comatose at a big round table, cornered by men and their quotes, I could only -- God help me -- imagine Patrick Swayze reaching his hand across the table to me and saying, "Nobody puts Baby in the corner."
SportsCenter anchor Chris McKendry is a regular columnist for Page 2.