Monday, January 21, 2008

Classic Lines

Although you’d never know it from reading my stuff, I really appreciate a clever or artful turn of phrase. Sometimes, someone puts a string of words together in such a way that it is truly a wonderful thing to behold.

While watching a rerun of “M.A.S.H.,” one of the truly classic TV shows (darn, I’ve said “truly” twice in two consecutive paragraphs), I came across one of those classic phrases. It seems that in the absence of Maj. Frank Burns, one of the surgeons in the zany 4077th M.A.S.H. unit, one Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester, III, was temporarily assigned to the unit, and was not (to say the least) happy about it.

Winchester was a New England Yankee snob (for those who have never seen the show), an arrogant and superior person, a person of culture who was totally repulsed at having to go to the 4077th, even for the intended 48-hour temporary period. A M.A.S.H. unit in the middle of nowhere was just too far beneath Chaaaaaaarrrrrles for him to bear. There were no gourmet meals and wine, no high culture like he experienced in his previous cushy assignment in Tokyo, and the “crudeness” of the rest of the 4077th’s personnel, like his tent-mates Hawkeye and BJ, drove him nuts.

As fate would have it, circumstances deteriorated for Winchester, whose experience doing “meatball surgery” was traumatic, at best, and he ended up being permanently assigned to the 4077th. Realizing he was stuck, but nevertheless being not only determined to get out of there, and also being his elitist, snobby self, Chaaaaarrrrles told Col. Potter, the CO of the unit: "Know this. You can cut me off from the civilized world. You can incarcerate me with two moronic cellmates. You can torture me with your thrice daily swill, but you cannot break the spirit of a Winchester. My voice shall be heard from this wilderness and I shall be delivered from this fetid and festering sewer!"

A classic line, for certain.

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