The Cook (1918)
Ah, children. So susceptible to the violence on television and in movies in these modern times. You can’t open a newspaper today without reading about yet another child stabbing his friend through the gut with a homemade katana while playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or a girl jumping off a roof while imitating Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony. Well, when I was 6 or 7, I was no different. Although back in my day we had cartoons such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and My Little Pony, my violent inspiration came in the form of a silent film made nearly 60 years before I was born.
The Cook stars silent comedy legends Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton, performing their trademark slapstick and sight gags in a restaurant setting. I have absolutely no idea why or how I was watching this old silent film, but the early ’80s were a strange time. Anyway, at one point in the film, Fatty, Buster, and friends decide to chow down on some spaghetti, but no one seems to know how to eat noodles, for some reason? Like spaghetti was a foreign delicacy? Whatever, their different attempts at eating it elicit hearty smirks, and must have really captivated a young me, because I decided to imitate the part where Buster cuts his friend’s spaghetti with scissors while he’s eating it [12:31 in the film below]. So, I went to the bathroom, found a really sharp pair of haircutting shears (my mom used to cut my and my dad’s hair, until one day when she snipped my ear, then I never let her touch my head again), and looked at myself in the mirror while I pretended to cut a long strand of spaghetti hanging out of my mouth. I know this sounds like an absolute blast, but the fun did not last. As I cut the imaginary spaghetti progressively shorter, on my last snip I cut it too short, and ended up lopping off the tip of my upper lip. I can remember that happening like it was this morning—hearing the sound of the scissors chomping my lip, then realizing what I’d done, then the blood flowing. I screamed spaghetti murder, and my mom ran in and ended up pressing some wet paper towel to my lip. I don’t remember a ton after the actual act, but it bled for a while. We couldn’t afford the hospital, so eventually it stopped bleeding and healed on its own (possibly after applying a shaman’s poultice, but I could be imagining that part). I vowed to never watch a Fatty Arbuckle film again, and I never have.
Now, when I see my daughter pretending to be a cartoon character or American Ninja Warrior by jumping off the couch, I smile at how she’s as silly as her old man, and lock up all the scissors where she can never find them.
Have you guys ever harmed yourself by imitating a TV show and/or movie? Let’s form a support group below!