There are things that you say to each other when you’ve been married since long before the Berlin Wall fell, things that certain situations call for. These may be quotes from movies, TV, or friends, and often I’m astonished to find that I’ve completely forgotten where the original quote came from. Sometimes we’ll watch a movie that I haven’t seen in 20 years and I’ll realize, “That’s where that line comes from!” (This was especially true of Meatballs, by the way.)
One of these things involves pie. When pie is served, we are required by our common memories to exclaim, “Just because I’m loaded doesn’t mean I can’t have pie!” The origin is fairly obscure — it came from a very short-lived attempt by PBS to create a half-hour comedy anthology, back in 1987. It was called “Trying Times,” and I don’t recall how many episodes were produced, but if it turned out to only be three, I wouldn’t be surprised. One episode was by Spalding Gray, called “Bedtime Story.” I don’t remember this at all, even though at the time I was in the full throes of Spalding Gray Fever. I thought he was brilliant, I thought what he was doing was refreshing, innovative, and, like most true innovations, so obvious it’s a wonder no one had done it before. Yet, I remember nothing about this story and couldn’t have come up with its title without IMDB.
Another was Terri Garr in “Drive, She Said,” which probably got the most notice of all the shows, and featured Terri taking driving lessons. I remember that it was hilarious, but, again, like most of us in the ’80s, I was also enamored of Terri Garr, and had been ever since I’d heard her say, “Quick! Suck it before the venom reaches my heart!”
The line about pie comes from an episode called “A Family Tree” that featured David Byrne and Rosanna Arquette. It was directed by Jonathan Demme, written by Beth Henley, who had also worked with Byrne on “True Stories,” which bears another look some 18 years later. I remember none of the particulars of this episode (was this the one with the piano moving, where the mover says, “Don’t worry, lady, I ain’t lost a piano yet!”?), except David Byrne getting up drunk in the middle of the night, coming into the kitchen and demanding pie. “Just because I’m loaded doesn’t mean I can’t have pie!”
Some things are better left unexplained, don’t ya think? The really odd thing is that we’ve passed these phrases on to our children, who in most cases have NO IDEA where they came from, so sometime, perhaps after we’re gone, they’re going to be watching a holodisc of “Sunset Boulevard” and have an amazing a-ha! moment: “So that’s where ‘I’m ready for my nap now, Mr. DeMille'” comes from!”