The Wrong Week To Stop Sniffing Glue

Do you have a favorite movie quote? The American Film Institute (AFI) has published a list of the Top 100 Movie Quotations in American cinema history. Chances are you know almost every one. Quotes like:

“Show me the money!”

“May the force be with you.”

“There’s no place like home.”

“You can’t handle the truth!”

“I’ll have what she’s having.”

And there’s another 95 that are just as ubiquitous and part of our everyday lexicon.…..and that’s only because the list stopped at 100. You could easily double or triple that list with movie quotes that you remember and enjoy. Just looking at the list puts a huge smile on your face as you’re able to relive the experience of each movie often based solely on a famous line from it.

On my first date with my wife, Susan, we had an immediate connection when we discovered that we both had the same favorite movie: Airplane!. When she told me that was her favorite movie, I said, “Surely you can’t be serious.” And she said, “I am serious….and don’t call me Shirley.” (By the way, #79 on the AFI list.) And the rest, as they say, is history. (Which is not a movie quote, but really should be.)

There’s a running gag in the movie Airplane! where the character Steve McCroskey (played by Lloyd Bridges) reacts to a challenge by saying, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking.” As the movie progresses, each time he’s faced with a new, larger challenge he repeats the same line, but with a different ending:

“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking.”

“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.”

And, finally, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.”

When Susan and I first got married, that last line, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue” became a great ‘go to’ line for us to use whenever we were faced with challenges. (Just to be absolutely clear, Susan and I have never sniffed glue. Playdoh, perhaps. But glue, no.) To this day, we still use that line when we’re faced with obstacles that we weren’t expecting. And the joke actually works better when we’re dealing with several challenges—simultaneously—that are causing angst.

Think about it: We’ve all had a day when the water heater stops working, the computer decides to do ‘updates’ when you’re in a huge rush, you discover that tomorrow’s deadline is actually today, and you just chipped a tooth. As the pressures pile on, one on top of another, we have found it incredibly cathartic to say the line, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.” It immediately defines that there is a problem (or problems), but give us some ‘comic relief’ as we face the mess that’s staring us in the face. We are transported back to the movie, even for just a brief moment, and are able to laugh at the predicament that we’re in.

Does it change the predicament? No. Not at all. What it changes is the way we’re now looking at it. I can tell you that line has turned my ‘oy’ to ‘joy’ more times than I can count.

I have friends who have used the same technique as stress-busters with their own favorite movie quotes. And it doesn’t always have to be a comedy—although I think they work better.

But some people find great power in movies that aren’t so funny.

When my friend Dave Timmons is faced with challenges, he paraphrases the famous line from Jaws and says, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.” The actual line is “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”, but when faced with your own problems, it makes more sense to adjust the quote from “You’re” to “We’re”. (It’s ok to adjust the quote—you’re using it for you, you can do whatever you want.)

Take a look at famous movie quotes. You can check out AFI’s list or one of the many other lists that readily available on-line.

Are there any that really resonate with you?

Any that create that same sense of ‘wow’ that you experienced when you first saw the movie?

And, most importantly, are there any that could become your own personal mantra? A quote that works either just for you—or is a shared experience, like I have with Susan—that can work for two of you? Or maybe even for your entire family or a team at work?

Feel free to use the line from Airplane! if that works for you like it has for us. But I bet you’ll be surprised at how many great memories come flooding back as you look at the list. And I bet you’ll find a great movie quote that becomes your new ‘go to’ line when you’re facing your own daily challenges.

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