Now Who Doesn’t Love John Cleese

To my sister Jeannie’s dismay, I do not get British comedies. The closest thing to a British comedy that I enjoyed was the movie, A Fish Called Wanda.  Jeannie insists that it wasn’t really a British comedy, but it had John Cleese, and who in their right mind doesn’t love John Cleese?

So she recorded a few of her favorites for me to watch when we dropped Teddy off after school one afternoon.  I’d picked Teddy and my girls up and met Jeannie at the front door. She pressed an iced tea into my hand and relieved me of my purse and keys before steering me to her living room and starting up the DVR.

For an hour and a half, she made me watch her favorites, Fawlty Towers, Are You Being Served, and Keeping Up Appearances.  I stared at the television for an hour and a half while my kids seemed to catch on right away and loved them all.

From time to time, their giggles would fill the air and Jeannie would look at me to see if I got the jokes. I didn’t.  First of all, were there jokes? All were situational comedies about people that I’d rather not know by any means, and the last one really got my hackles up.  About half-way through Keeping Up Appearances, Jeannie put her finger on why I was becoming more and more hostile toward the main character, Hyacinth Bucket, who insisted on pronouncing her last name as “Bouquét”.

“Doesn’t she remind you of mom before she went bat shit?” Jeannie asked.   “Always wanted to impress people with her wealth and social connections?”

That was it. Before she started embezzling corporate funds, hiring hit men to kill my wife, burning down our home, and kidnapping my daughter.  If she hadn’t gone down that path, would I have found her social climbing activities to be as funny as Jeannie thinks Hyacinth Bucket’s are?  No, I don’t think so.  I never did find her funny.  I guess, Jeannie, being the younger of the two of us and married to someone that my mother found acceptable, didn’t have to go through all the trauma that my mother put me through. And later, Lex and our family.

Thank god she had the good graces to run out in front of Lex’s truck and put an end to all our suffering. Poor Lex. She really felt guilty about leaving tire tracks on dear old mum.  But I was relieved. And thankful.  Even though it was an accident on Lex’s part. She had no way of avoiding my lunatic mother. But at least it stopped all the insanity.

I bet Richard Bucket has had similar thoughts about pushing Hyacinth in front of oncoming traffic. It reminds me of Dad, always trying to make peace while my mother ran roughshod over him.  Turning away from the man my grandparents raised him to be in order to please his psycho wife.

Afterward, I explained how Keeping Up Appearances brought back so many painful memories and my sister understood.

But what about Are You Being Served?  Torture. No bad memories, but it’s just plain god awful.

And John Cleese in Fawlty Towers?  I could learn to hate John Cleese.