Pop Culture Brain Rot

A head full of TV references has room for little else.

I’ve long suspected that my brain is just too strongly wired to pop culture for my own good. When I crack jokes around friends, someone usually asks, “What’s that from?” Experience has taught them that anything witty I say is usually a callback to one of my favorite TV shows.

Or take the time when my sister and I jumped into a Simpsons action movie spoof at the dinner table, the two of us simultaneously screaming “MENDOZAAAAA!” in our best McBain voices. My mother gave us a bemused look and informed us that a visitor to our home would probably assume that we had mental problems.

But things reached critical mass last weekend during a game night at the lovely Spotswood residence. We were playing Taboo with the teams split along gender lines, and the ladies won handily. I’m afraid that my clue-giving ineptitude was to blame: While others were racking up six, seven, and even eight points per turn, my powers of word association brought home a maximum of five. On two separate turns my partners managed to guess a measly two words.

I consider myself to be a very competitive person, and I found myself rehashing this pitiful performance. Where did I go wrong? Where indeed! Let’s flash back:

The word is “Toast.” I blurt out the first phrase that comes to mind: “Powdered (blank) Man!” I am met with empty stares. No “Ren and Stimpy” fans in the room, as it turns out. I go to my backup plan, a tortured grilled cheese guessing game. After many, many seconds lost, I give up and move on to the next word.

A few turns later, I flip to a card that reads “Snowman.” So I start blathering on about a cartoon adaptation of a children’s holiday book, narrated by David Bowie. My teammates cast about for the answer before I drop the conceit and utter the slightly more universal “carrot nose.” Shockingly, that clue did the trick.

Fortunately the game ended before I could try to lead my teammate Steve to “Boston” by way of a short-lived Anthony Clark sitcom from 1997.

Did I just make a “Boston Common” reference? I think it’s time to get to a museum.

Article © 2008 by Kevin Brotzman