What Monty Python and the Holy Grail Means to Me

I first saw the comedic masterpiece Monty Python and the Holy Grail when I was seven years old. My mom had special ordered the VHS tape from Suncoast Video (the same mall storefront where I decimated a display of ceramic Disney princess figurines) as a Christmas present for my father. That holiday, we watched it in my grandparents’ basement using their pop-up VCR. I can’t say that I understood much of it—my favorite part was when the Knights of the Round Table are dancing around and one steps on a chicken’s head, making it squawk—but I remember how my father laughed.

His laugh was big, full, warm.

“I will fart in your general direction” was a common threat in my household, even as we were taught that etiquette demanded flatulence should be a private matter whenever possible. It was not uncommon for any one of us to demand a shrubbery or request a holy hand grenade.

While I wouldn’t say movies were our religion (I was raised Catholic), it was certainly an integral part of our lives. Monty Python wasn’t the only one we quoted from extensively. My family was one of those obnoxious sorts that could have entire conversations in movie quotes. But it’s a quote from The Holy Grail that stays with me.

It’s been fifteen years (fifteen years!), but the last thing my father ever said to me, as a funny British nurse wheeled him up to an operating room where a Dr. White and a team of transplant surgeons would crack open his chest and replace his broken, failing heart with one his body would ultimately reject, was a quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?

And he laughed. Big and full and warm.

For me, Monty Python is more than killer rabbits and bringing out your dead, more than silly knights who say “ni.”

It’s the absurdity of believing in the impossible. It’s laughing as they cut out your heart.

This is a story I’ve told before. I’m thinking about it tonight because my local independent cinema is having a Monty Python Month, and they showed The Holy Grail tonight (I bought tickets but at the last minute, couldn’t bring myself to go). And because in the morning my mom is having surgery on her eyes (again).

IMG_7254Hearts and eyes, coconuts and swallows.

We hold onto the memories that we create into stories. But what does holding a memory so close cost us? Can we rewrite our memories for happier endings?

Could a five ounce bird carry a one pound coconut?

You do the math.



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