Making Friends– Monty Python Style

            Have you ever been somewhere new and discovered that you knew NO ONE? Maybe it was a new school or a conference or a party, and you felt completely alone. Perhaps you get stranded in an airport and you are surrounded by people you don’t know, but with whom you must spend the next several hours. It happens. If you haven’t experienced something like this yet, you will.

            Some of us just bury our noses into a book or smart phone or kindle to pass the time without having to actually connect with other human beings. It’s easy to do. It’s also the coward’s way. Striking up a conversation with a real person requires courage and spunk, and you’ll almost never regret doing it. But it’s hard to know how to start a conversation, you say. I know. I agree.

            A few years ago, a friend related an anecdote to me that got me thinking. He said that while waiting in line for something, maybe a plane—maybe a movie, he overheard someone saying the word witch. His instant, almost involuntary, reaction was to say, “How do you knoooow she is a witch?” in a nasal-y British accent. (My friend sounded EXACTLY like Terry Jones as Bedevere in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)

            The couple ahead of him burst out laughing, as well as many others around them. Without missing a beat, someone else in line called out, “Well, she looks like one!” That’s when the whole thing started.

            “She turned me into a newt!”

            “A newt?!”

            “I got better.” The scene continued for several minutes with more and more people joining the conversation.

            Some people quoted while others talked about how much they loved Monty Python movies and other British comedies. My friend single-handedly turned what could have been a dull, tiresome situation into an impromptu party.

            Since hearing that story, several of my friends and I have tried this same approach, and it works. People have an instant connection when they hear a line from a favorite movie, and they can’t help but share in the moment. Of course, you have to be careful which lines you quote, especially with Monty Python. If you quote the wrong line around people who aren’t familiar with the film, you will get stares and looks of horror and dismay.

            Maybe you aren’t a big Python fan. Maybe Star Wars is your thing. “I have a very bad feeling about this,” will always get a smile from someone.

            A big Casablanca fan might be, “…shocked! Shocked, I say!”

            The thing is, people long for a connection with others, however tenuous it might seem. Movies connect us. Movies we love enough to learn and recite give others insight into us, and open up doors for communicating that we might not otherwise explore. I’m not saying you’ll meet your soul mate in line at Starbucks by delivering William Wallace’s Braveheart rally. I’m not guaranteeing you’ll swap Christmas cards with the folks next to you at the ball game after you give them a raspy, “Luke, I am your father!”

            I’m just suggesting that you use the medium you already know and love to reach out to the real world around you. Make a friend. Start a party. Share a smile!

 “I triple dog dare you!”

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema! Thanks for reading!

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