By Bobby Bryant
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
The time has come at last.
This weekend, Americans stood in line, grabbed a tub of buttery popcorn, sat down in the dark and awaited The Word. And from a dozen Dolby-sound speakers it thundered forth: “D’OH!”
Twenty years after “The Simpsons” first appeared as quickie cartoon shorts on “The Tracey Ullman Show” and roughly 18 years after getting their own series on Fox, Springfield’s first family is starring in a big-screen movie. (Now you know where the producers have been hiding all the good gags since about `02.)
It’s a time to reflect—on Marge’s 6-foot hairdo, on Bart’s brattiness, on Lisa’s smarts, on Maggie’s pacifier—and most of all, on Homer’s ... Homerness. His Homertude. His Homereignity.
If Ernest Hemingway was the quintessential American man for the 20th century—alpha male, four wives, Pulitzer Prize, slayer of big animals—then Homer fills that role for the 21st. Fills it like a bellyful of chocolate doughnuts with sprinkles. (Mmmmm ... sprinkles.)
Homer’s fat, lazy, sloppy, stupid—but he always comes through in the end. He’s always wrong, but always right. He loves doughnuts, TV and beer, but also loves his family (after doughnuts, TV and beer). He sort of hates his job, but sort of loves it, too. He is the spirit of America, 2007. What professors call the gestalt. (Mmmmm ... gestalt.)
Here are 20 essential things I’ve learned from Homer Simpson. I’ve included the names and dates of the original “Simpsons” episodes when it was easy to find them. When it wasn’t, I didn’t. Just like Homer would do.
- If you go to a Japanese restaurant and order that delicacy, the blowfish ... and if the blowfish is not prepared exactly right ... it becomes poisonous and you die 24 hours after eating it. (“One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish,” 1991.) I don’t know if this is actually true, but it was on a TV cartoon show, so that’s good enough for me.
- You can goof off as much as you want at work and you’ll never get fired. This is especially true if you work at a nuclear plant.
- The best way to discipline an unruly child is to grab him by the neck while shouting, “Why, you little—!”
- “When you participate in sporting events, it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how drunk you get.”
- “Trying is the first step toward failure.” This quote is on a Homer refrigerator magnet I found a long time ago. It replaced another refrigerator magnet I had that said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Yeah, right, Mister Rogers.
- Being a vegetarian is the healthiest way to live, but it’s just too hard. Homer: “If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat?”
- And on a related issue: “All normal people love meat. ... You don’t win friends with salad.”
- It’s fine to wear the same white shirt and blue pants every day of your life. Because people mostly recognize you by your clothes.
- If you make a mistake, any kind of mistake, just exclaim “D’oh!” and everyone will forgive you. This is especially true if you work at a nuclear plant.
- “Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!” (This one is also on a refrigerator magnet. The greatest truths fit perfectly on a Frigidaire door.)
- If you have a holier-than-thou neighbor such as Ned Flanders, he’s not necessarily a better man than you are. He’s just a lot more likely to go to heaven than you are.
- “It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.” (“Colonel Homer,” 1992)
- It’s groups such as the Masons that secretly keep the metric system from taking over America the way it has taken over those European countries where people drive on “autobahns” and drink “schnapps” and have “free health care.” (“Homer the Great,” 1995)
- Rio de Janeiro is filled with wild monkeys, big rats, larcenous orphans and dangerous cabbies, as documented in the 2002 episode “Blame it on Lisa.” (Rio’s tourism board threatened to sue, and the “Simpsons” producers apologized. But would Rio have gotten so upset if it wasn’t sort of true? Huh? Would they?)
- Hell probably smells just like barbecue. Whether it’s more mustard-based or ketchup-based, I do not know. (“Simpsons Bible Stories,” 1999)
- Homer: “Lisa, would you like a doughnut?”
Lisa: “No thanks. Do you have any fruit?”
Homer: “This (one) has purple in it. Purple is a fruit.”
- There’s nothing women admire more, or need more, than a good, reliable roofer. So if you’re not a roofer, make friends with one. Because chicks really love roofs for some reason. (“Don’t Fear the Roofer,” 2005)
- “The answers to life’s problems aren’t at the bottom of a bottle. They’re on TV!” (“There’s No Disgrace Like Home,” 1990)
- President Bush the Elder was wrong. I don’t know if he was wrong about not finishing off Saddam Hussein in Gulf War I or about picking Dan Quayle as his veep. But he was wrong in 1992 when he said, “We need a nation closer to the Waltons than the Simpsons.” John-Boy and his country kin are in history’s dustbin. The future is named Homer, and it eats chocolate doughnuts with sprinkles. (Mmmm ... sprinkles.)
- That last one was kind of long, and it required looking up Bush’s quote on that Internet thingy, so I’m going to count it as two items and go home and watch TV now. Just like Homer would do.