Memory is a weird thing, particularly when it’s distant and involves other people.
Working through The X-Files has been a general source of surprises for me, because everything I knew about the show was sketchy at best, cultivated from years of out of context jokes and actor appearances. (David Duchovny promising Mango that he’d tell him what happened in The X-Files Movie if they stayed together is one of my all time favorite SNL moments. Mango is a pretty well forgotten but brilliant SNL character.)
Despite the fact that my dad and brother were huge fans of the show, it was never a discussion piece.
Except for “Musings Of A Cigarette Smoking Man.”
I have this weird hazy memory of my father and Uncle Steve (not actually my uncle, he’s my dad’s cousin and best friend from college…also he married my mom’s best friend from college…my life is complicated…) talking about this episode and how much they loved it. I didn’t know what the show was about then, aliens, I was pretty sure. It was scary, I didn’t want anything to do with it.
But the line, “as long as I’m alive, I don’t want to see a Buffalo Bills Superbowl win,” was something that was oft repeated and laughed at in our house, even out of context.
So as I sat watching that episode on Sunday, I immediately thought, “This is the episode.”
Later, my dad joined me for an episode and said, “so I already watched your favorite. The one with the Smoking man and the Bills.” He looked at me oddly.
“Oh, yeah, that is a good one.”
My father talking about this episode made a mark on me when I was young. He barely remembered talking about it. This isn’t so strange for my dad, but I think it’s an interesting phenomenon, to think about the way something you say can affect someone for years, even when you’ve completely forgotten about it.
Also, in case you haven’t noticed, The X-Files has eaten my life. I’d be more concerned about it, but I haven’t had an all consuming obsession like this in a while. (Hamilton is doing it too.) So while it’s inconvenient for the moment and kind of strange, it also makes me feel like I’m myself again, and that’s pretty great.