COLUMBIA, MO-After almost a decade of easy-going enjoyment, area head shop proprietor Cookie Perlman has renounced his former relationship with the motion picture The Big Lebowski, in an announcement made over the weekend.
“I know it sounds like a sudden 180 degree turn, but really, this has been building for a few years now,” said the merchant to cashier Donavan Baldasare, demonstrating the seriousness of his decision by displaying the broken shards of what had been his copies of the DVD and CD soundtrack of the film. “I’m sorry it had to come to this bitter an end, but I was left with no choice.”
Perlman recalled how his first encounter with The Big Lebowski in 1997 had not been a promising one. He had been initially quite annoyed at the cartoonish, over-the-top characters and situations, particularly the bullying behavior of second lead character Walter Sobchak. By the time the a scene depicting an elderly television writer confined to an iron lung came on screen, Perlman yelled out in frustration, “Isn’t there anybody normal in this movie?” Nevertheless, he did find the ending, in which The Dude has lost the money, the car, the rug, and his best friend, rather interesting, and determined to give it another try.
“After a while, I was able to forgive my initial misgivings and enjoy the story,” said Perlman. As friends and acquaintances discovered Lebowski, he found a sense of camaraderie in their shared pleasure. And when an employee of the video store next door to his tipped him off that they planned to junk their last VHS tape and not restock it, Perlman enthusiastically told his customers to continually rent the tape to demonstrate to the store that it was worth keeping in stock. “In my small way, I helped save it from being forgotten,” he said, removing a reprint of the one-sheet from his rack of posters available for purchase.
However, as The Big Lebowski increased in popularity, Perlman noticed a shift in the behaviors of its fans that worried him. “When I was with my friends, and the conversation left itself open to drop in a quote from the movie, that was fun,” he told Baldasare. “But soon after we might go to parties, and if I quoted it to a friend, inevitably some creepy guy near us we didn’t know would take that as an invite to join our conversation and start rattling off every line he knew. Yeah, we get it, you memorized all the dialogue. That doesn’t make you interesting, okay?”
Another point of annoyance was when a former co-worker and fan of the film got married to a fellow fan, held the ceremony at a bowling alley, and the couple later adopted a marmot. “Which, of course, they named Bunny,” he fumed.
Assistant store manager Iphigenia Wuso recalls a particularly galling incident at the head shop 18 months ago when two members of Thor’s Hatchet, a local skinhead band, came into the store. “They spotted the poster for sale, and just started saying ‘Shomer fuckin’ shabbos,’ over and over again. These are guys who want to kill the Jews and here they are dropping Hebrew that they heard in this movie, with no sense of irony. Well, Cookie wouldn’t serve them and told them to leave, and they tried to be funny and say, ‘We cut off your Johnson,’ as they walked out. Okay, maybe if they had said that line about Nazism being an ethos, that could have been funny, since they were real Nazis. Or ‘Don’t fuck with the Jesus,’ because they’re supposed to be Christians. Hell, ‘Shut the fuck up, Donny,’ the most repeated line in the movie! But ‘We cut off your Johnson?’ That doesn’t have any context! And we both just shook our heads.”
Perlman explained that his decision to break all ties with the film came after a recent screening he attended with Wuso. “There was nobody who looked like me there. These were Maxim-reading, Dave Matthews Band-listening, date-raping, gay-bashing, drunk-driving, high-fivin’ frat boy scum. And they were all drunk and stoned…okay, look, I don’t have a problem with that, I mean, I sell bota bags and water pipes for a living…but they were loud and rude and uncool, leaving their beer bottles all over the place, puking in the lobby, treating the employees like crap. The same type of guys who come into my store and yell ‘Got any hash pipes?’ and I have to kick them out or else the narco squad will shut me down. I go to that theatre all the time, and they never show up for any other movies; they’re not even regular customers. Guess they’re too busy the other 364 days of the year dropping roofies in girls’ drinks.”
And that, he said, is when he had to reevaluate the movie. “I know it sounds like I’m some college radio douche who dumps a band he likes because they’re popular,” he explained to Baldasare, handing him T-shirts bearing famous catch phrases from the film, now destined for the dumpster. “But honestly, the movie was never that good. I mean, if thugs pee on your carpet, shouldn’t you call the cops? If you had a guy like Walter in your life who kept contradicting you and pushing you around, you’d tell him to shove it and find a new friend, right? And those guys who made it, the Cones, Cowens, whatever, look at the crap they’ve made lately. Intolerable Cruelty? The Ladykillers? I can’t find anything redeeming in it anymore. I realized I was giving this movie a pass because it didn’t suck. Far as I’m concerned, they’re dead to me; I’ve never heard of ‘em. You show me a picture, I’m gonna say, ‘Who are these guys?’”
When Baldasare reminded Perlman of the exchange between The Dude and the cab driver about the musical validity of the Eagles, Perlman replied, “Okay, so maybe there’s still some kinda funny stuff in there. Maybe it’s irrational to blame a movie, but I’m sorry, my memories have been ruined. It’s like using the c-word with your girlfriend, or if your dad came home in a drunken fury and beat you to an inch of your life during a good episode of ‘NIGHT COURT.’ It’s the point of no return, friend.”
Concluded Perlman, as he began to unpack a fresh supply of Family Guy novelties, “I wasted ten years of my life on a meathead magnet. The Dude can go to Hell.”
Previously featured in The Scallion - reprinted without permission*
*(OK, so if you're reading this ultra fine print, it's time to come clean. Years ago, as an exercise, I wrote a humor piece in the style popularized by the website named for the allium sepa plant. But rather than try submitting the piece, since I knew they didn't take submissions anyway, I decided to have some fun by every now and then "reprinting" it in emails and message boards and claiming that I had first seen it at a website that was similarly named to the one being emulated, but which had mysteriously "vanished" from the web. The ruse worked; a lot of people were convinced that it came from elsewhere and it sparked further discussion. I figured now, since the subject matter is marking an anniversary, this was a good time to take it wide and take my proper credit for writing it. Of course, the big question that has now arisen in your mind: is this story remotely autobiographical? Well, I've never worked in a head shop. I did have a crush on a co-worker named Iphigenia once though. Let's just say I think many other films by the directors in question are much funnier than the one being satirized and leave it there.)