There’s a scene in an episode of The Simpsons when Homer says, “This is a very, very proud day for us, especially me! Your father, ME, beat city hall! It’s just like David and Golius, only this time, David won!” As Lisa hears this, her brain says, “I know, I heard it too. Here’s some music…” at which point, some calming classical music begins to play in her head.
I have what I call a “Lisa Simpson Switch” in my head. It is activated when I hear something mind-numbingly stupid, ridiculous, banal, arrogant, etc. When activated, whoever has been unfortunate enough to trip the switch is blissfully unaware of what they’ve done, for nothing outwardly happens, save for the fact that my face adopts a blank expression as I listen to the music that my brain is kindly playing for me.
One such occasion when my “Lisa Simpson Switch” was tripped, was while I was waiting for my flight at Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport. Two Liverpudlian women were seated behind me. If you’d read my previous post, you’ll know that as a writer I keep my eyes and ears open while I’m out and about, constantly scanning for those golden little nuggets of action and conversation which are the lifeblood of literary creativity. So it was that I couldn’t help but listen in to their conversation concerning Duty Free.
Woman 1: Did you get that perfume you wanted from Duty Free?
Woman 2: Yeah! It was 68 pounds, or 96 euros. So I got it in pounds cause it was cheaper.
Another occasion was while I was on the train, going to see my sister for her birthday. I happened to overhear two students discussing why they had chosen to go to Durham University. One of them happened to say, “I chose it because I thought it was called Durian, and Durian is my favourite kind of cake.” Only the “Lisa Simpson Switch” prevented me from telling them that A. Durian is a particular kind of fruit, not cake, and B. I chose to go to the University of Coffee and Walnut for the exact same reason.
By far the ultimate “Lisa Simpson Switch” moment, however, was:
Man A: What does Caucasian mean?
Man B: It’s the race that you are.
Man A: Oh, I thought it was when you were too white and had red eyes.
But, stupid though this is, what makes this the ultimate? I hear you ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Man A was a second year biology student!