Yesterday when Mr. Brookshaw announced that our pandemic-era benefits were coming to an end, I chimed in with, “So long, dental plan!” And while everyone else rolled their eyes or pretended not to hear me, you chuckled and quietly said, “Lisa needs braces.” You were the only one in the room who understood the reference to Season 4’s “Last Exit to Springfield,” and at that moment, I realized that we were meant to be. How else can you explain that sort of connection? That’s fate. That’s destiny. I’m talking Space Coyote-level soul mates (and I know that I don’t have to explain that reference to you).
Now, I’m not saying we need to start planning the wedding. I’m not going to jump the gun or do anything rash. But this is clearly a love connection. It’s all part of the classic elder millennial mating ritual: throwing out a random joke/reference to a bit of nineties pop culture and hoping that your perfect partner understands what the hell you’re talking about. A tale as old as time.
These things matter. Having the same taste in movies and TV means having similar life experiences, cultural touchstones, and values. And isn’t that what we’re all looking for in a partner? Imagine trying to have a heart-to-heart conversation with someone who doesn’t remember the exact moment of finding out who shot Mr. Burns. Or where they were on 9/11.
Without common reference points, it’s as though you’re speaking to an entirely different species. Like those Gen Z first-years who talk about god knows what, like TikTok and pink sauce and student loan forgiveness. Whenever I try to converse with them, I’ll just scream, “I’m Pickle Rick!” and they’ll laugh, placated. It’s so hard to connect with this generation, with their rants about equality, the increased intensity of hurricanes, and the need for a starting salary that accurately reflects their inherent self-worth and qualifications. Am I so out of touch? No. It’s the children who are wrong.
But as for you and me, I’ve sensed our compatibility for some time now. At the end of our first “return to the office” team dinner, I joked, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, do these sound like the actions of a man who’s had all he could eat?” Everyone thought I was senselessly mocking Jerry’s thyroid problem, but you knew I was referencing the episode where Homer sued the Frying Dutchman for not delivering on their promise of a true all-you-can-eat buffet. Also, thanks for smoothing things over during the HR investigation. Thankfully someone did not get fired for that blunder.
I don’t want to come on too strong, either in this relationship or when it comes to advertising my love of any TV show. Who the hell are these people who just flat-out talk about how much they love something with zero subtlety? “Succession is the best show on television.” We get it! We don’t need to talk about it ad nauseam on Mondays, person whose name I haven’t taken the time to learn. My preferred form of fandom is wearing a T-shirt that features one random quote from a cult classic that is easily misinterpreted as ironic hipster nonsense, which was the style at the time.
Despite what all my married friends insist, pop culture love connections are very real. Heck, my parents met because of Spinal Tap. My dad screamed out, “DO STONEHENGE!” at a Steely Dan concert, and Mom thought it was absolutely hilarious. That moment led to ten happy years of marriage… and two disastrously unhappy years. But that won’t happen to us! Our generation is kinder and more sympathetic. We grew up with Mr. Rogers while they had Walter Cronkite covering Vietnam. I think.
For our first date, I figured we could go to dinner and then quote our favorite SNL sketches back to each other, then look up the actors’ IMDBs and remember where else we saw them. Then we’ll reminisce about classic Nicktoons and old board games like Mousetrap and Don’t Wake Daddy, share our original AIM screen names, and mimic the dial-up internet noise. Then we’ll lament that our era’s SNL cast will always be superior to whoever the hell is currently on the show (not that we watch anymore). This is an experience that no other generation can possibly relate to.
So what do you say? Do you “Choo Choo Choose” me? Actually, we need to put a pin in this. HR just called me in. No clue what it could be about—ohhhhh… That’s right. I quoted the John Waters episode to the first years. You know, the one where The Simpsons very delicately addressed homophobia. But hey! While I’m at HR, I can grab the forms so we can officially declare our relationship to corporate. Everything’s coming up Milhouse!