The Simpsons just began its 25th season and I haven’t seen a new episode in about 10 years. But I still speak the language.
People have written hundreds of essays about Simpsons quotes and quoting The Simpsons in everyday life. Quotes beyond your typical “D’oh!” and “Exccccellent” and “Eat my shorts!” (Although I don’t know anyone who still says that last one.)
Then there are longer quotes that seem misplaced, but make sense in the right context. For example, if it’s a bad day outside or something isn’t going your way, you could say, “Lousy Smarch weather.” Or if it is a beautiful day and things are going your way, you could say, “Everything’s coming up Milhouse!”
I’m fond of muttering, “My eye, I’m not supposed to get pudding in it” when I’m disappointed. At this point it is beyond my control. I’m just fluent in Simpsons. Naturally this second language is encouraged when around other Simpsons-speakers, which is pretty much everyone of my age group. I’ve had experience dating non-Simpsons-speakers, and I’m always surprised when they don’t get a reference. How do you not speak Simpsons? “Dental plan,” I’ve tested them, waiting for the “Lisa needs braces!” in exchange. When I’m met with silence or “What?” that’s when I realize they’re not fluent. My current boyfriend doesn’t even speak Simpsons a little. He offered, “Don’t have a cow, man!” which is such an outdated reference it took me a moment to understand what language he was speaking. But I appreciated the thought.
Does this sound utterly insane? I understand. After all, why would anyone incorporate lines from a 25-year-old cartoon show into their everyday life, especially lines that are, in most cases, 15-years-old? I think it’s that The Simpsons and their world are as much of my childhood as anything “real.” My brother and I can crack each other up by drawling in a Barney (not the dinosaur) voice, “Marge, your little boy Bart almost got eaten by that pony!” One of my fondest memories is when he visited me in college in NYC and we spent the day buying Simpsons DVDs and then watching them all afternoon and evening. In between episodes we’d say things like, “Hello. My name is Mr. Burns. I’d like to get my mail.” “Okay, Mr. Burns, what’s your first name?” “…I don’t know” and take turns between being Homer and the mail clerk.
Let me teach you some phrases. Someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do? “Sir, we’re not supposed to put butter in the milk duds.” Trying to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do? Tell them sternly, “Bart, butter your bacon!” (Add, “Now bacon-up that sausage” for extra emphasis). Want to express frustration? Shout, “Why was I programmed to feel pain???” or say nonchalantly, “Kids, help.” Someone asking you about something you don’t want to talk about? Sigh and say, “It’s just the northern lights, mother.”
I probably sound like a person incapable of having a conversation without mentioning The Simpsons. I swear I don’t do it on purpose. Not unless I can tell you’ve played knifey-spoony before. Damn it, sorry, I just did it again.
I think I can explain it in one word: Milpool. Yes, it’s another Simpsons reference. It’s from the brilliant Rear Window spoof when Bart breaks his leg over the summer and has to sit in his room wearing a cast while watching the neighborhood kids play in his pool. He asks them to sign his cast and his best friend, Milhouse, is so distracted to go swimming, he signs Bart’s cast, “Milpool”, the signature trailing off at the end. A few years ago I saw a photo online of a young woman with the “Milpool” signature tattooed right above her hip. Someone asked her why she would do that and she said something like, “’Milpool’ popped into my head and it made me laugh. It makes me happy.” That’s really what it’s about. Using Simpsons quotes in everyday life make us laugh and make us happy. They remind us of our childhood. They remind us of good times. They’re an inside joke for millions of people. In short, it’s all Milpool.
I also speak Seinfeld.