“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” – Produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and United Artists

Roommates & Debilitating Surgeries at the Same Time

 It’s been a while since I’ve updated my Blog as I’m recuperating from February 3, 2014 Full Hip Replacement Surgery.  My recuperation became more “challenging” when my 78-year-old Mom (who is also my roommate) had Double Knee Replacement Surgery but then experienced some complications which kept her in the hospital much longer than expected.  As a result, our recoveries have now overlapped such that in our respective “immobile” physical states we not only can’t help each other but we can’t even help ourselves.  Our temporary vulnerable medical conditions have left us wholly dependent on the kindness of neighbors, friends and relatives for the simplest of human needs. Thankfully, these people have “stepped up” tremendously and shown us what it truly means to care about someone. When they leave to understandably attend to their own lives and families, only the sound of “House of Cards” playing on our big-screen living room television confirms we are not stranded on a deserted island.  That’s assuming, of course, Netflix is not available in the most desolate of places.

 “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad …” House in West Orange, New Jersey

Sometimes when I yearn for perspective to help understand our temporary but otherwise seemingly daily hopeless and painful respective plights, I am thankfully reminded of the closing “Prison Hospital Scene” from the hilarious 1963 classic movie,  “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”

The movie, which was a “family-favorite” I remember watching with neighbors, aunts, uncles and cousins, is about the madcap “planes, trains and automobiles” pursuit of $350,000 in stolen cash by a colorful, Seinfeld-like, self-loathing but very funny group of deceitful strangers who must trust each other in order to follow the dying words of a criminal character played by the immortal Jimmy Durante as he literally “kicks the bucket” and proclaims a treasure is buried under a “Big W.”  The all-star ensemble cast features the stars of that time period including Edie Adams, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers and Jonathan Winters Amazingly, these epic performances are matched by the outlandish or often subtle cameo appearances by other Comedy Greats such as Jerry Lewis, Don Knotts, Jack Benny, Peter Falk, The Three Stooges and Carl Reiner.

Thanks to Wikipedia and IMDB, here’s that Prison Hospital Scene we think about to laugh together when we feel forlorn and our lassitude unceremoniously blends one day into the next as we wait for our scarred bodies to heal:

The dejected men, now visibly immobile in a prison hospital in bandages, casts and immobilizing devices of all kinds, start to blame one another for their predicament – especially “Culpeper” (played by Spencer Tracy) – for seizing the money. “Captain T. G. Culpeper” of the Santa Rosita Police Department had been patiently working on this case for 15 years hoping to solve it and retire with honor when anything but was coming his way.

As a retort to the finger-pointing, “Culpeper” (Spencer Tracy) verbally points out to the others that all of their prison sentences may be lighter because he will probably take most of the blame in court. The  now disgraced but contemplative ex-Captain “Culpeper” then dejectedly adds that, “perhaps in 10 or 20 years, I hope that there will be something that I can laugh about.”

Then “Benjy” (a Las Vegas bound motorist played by Buddy Hackett who happened to stop his car when he saw the Jimmy Durante highway car crash and then joined the chase toward the “Big W” after hearing Durante’s dying words about the hidden treasure) throws his banana peel toward a wastebasket, but it misses and lands on the floor, moments before the relentlessly nagging and self-righteous “Mrs. Marcus” (the over-bearing mother-in-law of timid Milton Berle’s character played by Ethel Merman) enters, flanked by “Monica” (the similarly annoying nagging wife of Sid Caesar’s character played by Edie Adams) and “Emeline Marcus-Finch” (the wife of Milton Berle’s henpecked character played by Dorothy Provine), and vociferously starts scolding all of the hospitalized men involved with the madcap adventure. 

However, in mid-sentence, “Mrs. Marcus” (Ethel Merman) slips on the banana peel, falls flat on her back, and is hurriedly carried off on a gurney while all the other injured men, and eventually “Culpepper” (Spencer Tracy), laugh hysterically.

Roll Credits.

The Takeaway

Laughter and knowing people care about you haven’t yet supplanted Oxycodone and Percocet as Painkillers but they are damn close. 🙂  Moreover, if I learned anything from all those years watching “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” with my family, it’s that the next “belly laugh” could be just around the corner.

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