Everybody knows that there are a ton of funny and interesting blogs all over this great wide Internet. But you know what there aren’t a ton of? Funny and interesting blogs that ALSO TEACH YOU ALL KINDS OF COOL AND AMAZING SHIT ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY.
Fortunately for us (and the great wide Internet), today’s guest blogger Megsanity writes a super duper psych blog which does exactly that. Seriously, if you haven’t already checked out Megsanity: Women, Psychology and Expletives, you need to. Trust.
Now please give a warm welcome to Megsanity, who’s about to wax eloquently about cowbells, dicks in boxes, and home skillets. (She’s also going to tell us why we hang on to popular phrases and cultural references from our past.)
I love the old Saturday Night Live skits. Not the new “trying-to-be-as-good” SNL, but the old-school height-of-fantastic SNL with Eddie Murphy, Chris Farley and sometimes Will Farrell. You know, back when SNL was still the bomb.
Because seriously, has it been funny since then? I mean, aside from one or two episodes with Justin Timberlake, like the one where he gives somebody his penis as a Christmas gift? (If you’ve never seen “Dick in a Box,” please do so immediately. Trust me on this one.)
But while I don’t often get a chance to use the phrase “dick in a box,” I do find plenty of opportunities to use other quotes from the SNL heyday. Quotes such as… “more cowbell.”
People in my life ask me why I use outdated phrases like “more cowbell” that barely make sense in today’s context. I like to think that I do it because I’m awesome, but that probably isn’t the whole reason. So when my home slice Sarah asked me to write a guest post about the phenomenon, I jumped at the chance like a dude in hammer pants straight pimpin’ at the club.
Cultural references from our childhoods have the inherent ability to make us happy. They are comforting beyond what seems to make sense. They were part of our lives before we had so many responsibilities. Put simply: words have memories. They give us feelings. They are part of a strong association network in the brain.
And my brain fucking loves cowbell.
Let’s back up a second. In case you aren’t familiar with it, the “More Cowbell” sketch features Christopher Walken as a music producer and Will Ferrell as a renegade percussionist for the rock band Blue Öyster Cult. In the skit, Walken has a fever – and “the only prescription is more cowbell.”
I saw this episode of SNL as a young, childless person, back when I stayed up later. In those days I read books, went dancing, painted, and actually managed to watch late night television. Good times.
Then I had kids. And those wriggling screaming bundles of awesome changed everything. Don’t get me wrong – kids are all that and a bag of chips, and they allowed my husband and I to use phrases like “Who’s yo daddy?” and actually mean it. But something was missing.
I figured it must be the cowbell.
We all lose a little part of ourselves when we have children. “Lose” is a bad word, perhaps. How about “misplace”? We still have all of the same hobbies, goals, and desires that we had before – but we have to put them on hold for a little bit. Our priorities become different, and these changed priorities are what cause us to forego watching Saturday Night Live in favor of snuggling a sleepy baby, stay home from work to care for an ill child, or buy braces instead of a new car. (WHY DO THEY COST SO MUCH? It sucks when the bling on the kids’ teeth costs more than your whole wardrobe.)
We all miss our versions of “more cowbell” at least sometimes, not just in the form of television, but in the form of all those little things that used to make us feel good. For example, your cowbell might be high heels and party dresses, or the simple freedom to leave home without planning and packing for an hour. Or maybe your cowbell is the ability to fit into that college sweater that you used to love so much, back before you had kids and your abdominal apron started to keep time like a fleshy metronome during your daily run.
We seek things that give us those happy feelings, the same ones we had when we first saw a favorite SNL sketch or hula-hooped our way into a camp trophy. We develop strong emotional attachments to such things because the feelings and the memories are meshed together. Beanie Babies might make us smile. Slap bracelets might make us wince. Nirvana might make us want to weep. We will always remember the feelings these things evoked. It’s why thinking about your first love still triggers strong emotions –your brain does way more than remember experiences. It remembers happiness. It remembers hormone levels. (And teenage hormones are no joke.)
When I watched the “more cowbell” skit, I found it delightful. And I still do today, because nothing dramatic has happened to change that association. It’s the same reason I will still call people “home skillet” occasionally – it’s because all my hotplate home girls of the past have left some pretty fantastic associations in that part of my brain. And I want you in on that. Because I like you.
And even though I work damn hard to make sure I always have some cowbell in my life, I sometimes need to scream, “MORE COWBELL!” Because being surrounded by things that you love matters.
And because cowbells are stupid fly. (Obviously.)
“Megsanity” is the alias of a licensed clinical therapist who has spent the majority of the last ten years working as the Clinical Director/Vice President of Clinical Operations for a JCAHO accredited mental health facility. She needed an anonymous outlet where it was acceptable to drop the F-bomb like it’s hot, so she started Megsanity. Women, psychology and expletives, a blog that strives to promote an understanding of female psychology through recent and anthropological research, girl power, expletives, sarcasm and sexual innuendo. You can also find her on Facebook.
“Dick in a Box”: Television still from the December 4th, 2013 episode of Saturday Night Live, aired on NBC. Featuring The Lonely Island and Justin Timberlake.
“More Cowbell”: Source unknown. Footage from Saturday Night Live, aired on NBC. Featuring Will Farrell.