Sometimes, there are no words. So you have no choice but to steal them from pop culture.
Despite being an editor by trade, I've never been good with words. Speaking them, that is. I could easily drivel on for 3,000 words about last night's American Idol or the way Samwise Gamgee hoisted Frodo up Mount Doom (unless you have a box of Kleenex to give, don't get me started), but carrying casual conversation about anything off screens both big and small proves to be as difficult as carrying a hobbit up a lava-filled hill. (See what I mean?)
My life so revolves around pop culture that I have no choice by to constantly quote it. Not only have half of my friendships been formed through conversations made up entirely of lines from The Happening or The Room, but I even managed to work a Taxi Driver reference into a mission statement for my previous website. So while I won't go as far as to insist a Tombstone quote be added to Bustle.com's mission (you know which one I'm referring to, Dads), movies and TV are still my crutch when a friend or stranger approaches and becomes responsible for the panic-filled thought, They're talkin' to me?!
After all, what conversation can't be saved with a "There's always money in the banana stand," or "Not the beeeeeees!," or the time-tested "D'oh!"? The answer is, of course, "many," which is exactly why my obsession with movie quotes led to the extermination of at least one friendship during my lifetime. Spurned by a boy my freshman year of college, I felt the overwhelming desire to tell my first collegiate crush how much he had hurt me. How leading on my innocent and (as it seems 10 years later) infant heart was enough to expose me to my first bout of cynicism. How, though I knew I'd move on without him, his treatment of me was a formative experience that made me skeptical of the motivations of his entire gender, despite having plenty of positive male figures in my youth.
Instead, I pulled him aside and loudly quoted Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. "What the hell is your problem, [boy's name]?" I started, with all the aplomb of an eighth grader memorizing a line in a movie with enough profanity to make her mother frown on it. "Why the hell are you always such a nasty [bastard, tweaked from "bitch" to make it gender appropriate]? I mean, okay, so [I got upset that you stood me up for a Halo tournament]. I only did because I wanted you to treat me like a human being. But you know what I realized? I don't care if you like me, because I don't like you. You're a bad person with an ugly heart, and I don't give a flying fuck what you think!"
Of course, the soliloquy itself might have invited simple bemusement for the collegiate in question… had I not decided to pepper it with some additional words from Full Metal Jacket's Sergeant Hartman. It's little surprise that following my monologue, the boy escaped my life faster than Gollum from Shelob.
Now, there's no doubt I'm better off. In fact, I can thank the pleather wonders that are Romy and Michele (less so the disturbed men of Full Metal Jacket), with providing me the words that allowed me to separate from someone not right for me. (Specifically, someone who clearly hasn't seen Romy and Michele.) It might have been difficult to find the words to express what I really felt, but pop culture gave this wordless wonder the ability to at least express something. If Romy and Michele had the confidence to stand up for themselves, why couldn't I find inspiration in their confidence to stand up to someone who wronged me? Pop culture might be a crutch — believe me, I'm fully aware that it's about time I learn how to converse outside of a film script — but it's also how I, and many others, have connected to one another, and our own emotions. Why else would the GIF- and meme-full Tumblr have sold for a whopping $1.1 billion? (Don't say porn. You'll ruin my point.)
Ten years later, I've more than moved on, with less than three months to go until I head down the altar with the only man in the world who delivers The Girl Next Door quotes as if others have actually seen the movie. Now, I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to be okay with the fact that my vows might reference The Happening. I have a problem.
Image: Touchstone Pictures