We watch movies.
Our family was raised on the crazy antics of Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood and Jack Lemmon in The Great Race.
The hilarity of Danny Kaye in The Court Jester.
The magical song and dance of Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse in Brigadoon.
The comic timing of Red Skelton in The Fuller Brush Man.
And these are only four of the hundreds we sat through together as a family as they were growing up.
Inevitably, these movies had a great influence on our lives.
When the characters made mistakes and paid dearly for them, my family suffered alongside. When a story ended, inevitably, in triumph, we celebrated.
We lived their lives. Learned their lessons. Grieved and cheered with them.
The stories became very real to us.
We discussed them endlessly.
The lessons learned. The principles taught.
And our conversation became peppered with noteworthy lines.
I do mean peppered.
Our youngest son, three-year-old Tristan, was playing with a small, battery-powered railroad with a friend. "Push the button, Max!" (The Great Race)
Friend, "My name's not Max."
People visiting our household would often gape in confusion as quotes cropped up in the conversation.
We knew what was being said.
Occasionally, someone would join us who knew that the answer to, "And there was much rejoicing" was a subdued, "Yay!" (with appropriate hand movements) from Search for the Holy Grail.
Or that, when asked to do something specific, would know to quip, "I'm smokin' a salmon!" from Oscar.
And that, with the end of a meal, the appropriate gratitude was voiced by the words, "The meal was good. The wine was excellent. I must send the Cardinal a note." (Again, with appropriate hand gesture, this time, hand kissing.) A noteworthy quote, though we weren't wine-drinkers, from The Three Musketeers.
We were the family who would break, unexpectedly, into song.
And everyone would know the words.
Occasionally, outside of our home, others would take note of our unique (note that I'm using the PC term) customs.
For good or bad . . .
Our daughter, Tiana, was in kindergarten.
Her teacher heard her singing, "Goin' Courtin'. Goin' Courtin'." (From Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.)
She pulled her aside and asked her to repeat it.
The teacher frowned and asked her where she had heard that.
Tiana stared at her.
This was probably her first experience with someone who didn't eat, breathe and sleep movies.
So, not like her family at all.
"It's from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." she said finally. "Just before they learn how to dance."
Her teacher was puzzled. "Do you know what it means?"
Tiana smiled at her. "Oh, yes, it means 'dating'."
"Ah." Still puzzled, her teacher let her go.
But brought up the subject at our next parent-teacher conference.
I have to point out that it wasn't the only time I had heard from confused elementary school teachers.
Moving on . . .
But as the kids grew into junior and senior high school, our family quirk became more acknowledged.
Even occasionally appreciated.
Especially when a teacher would pose a question or repeat a quote from an old movie or program and our child was the only one in the class who knew the answer.
Or who laughed.
They became the universally-acknowledged 'experts' on old movies.
And, more importantly, quotes from movies.
It was a fun way to raise a family.
It is a fun way to live.
I think its time for another one.
"Push the button, Max!"