When Charlie was five years old, he discovered “Young Frankenstein,” the black and white comedy gem that was the supreme work-vision of Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks. As is often the case with many young children when they latch onto a movie, a show, a book, Charlie watched that film REPEATEDLY. Like every day. Sometimes more than once a day. He had his favorite parts, the lines he would replay over and over for us. Scott and I would chuckle and wonder in awe at how he remembered all those moments, how well he memorized the bits, word for word, gesture by gesture. There were so many funny scenes and Charlie seemed to know them all.
During this total and utter immersion in “Young Frankenstein” humor (a movie that was gifted, originally, to Max for his tenth or eleventh birthday but one that Charlie somehow got his hands on and we allowed because it kept him occupied for many hours at a time) our family showed up on the doorstep of a friend’s home for dinner. The doorbell didn’t appear to be working, so we turned to the door knocker. Knock, knock! Charlie quickly put the real-life scene before us together in his mind with the door knocker scene from “Young Frankenstein.” As soon as my friend opened her front door, he looked up at her and exclaimed loudly, “Nice knockers!” “Why thank you, Charlie!” she said, without skipping a beat. Everyone laughed, and Charlie, pleased with the reaction among our hostess and some of the other dinner guests assembled by the front door, marched into the house grinning from ear to ear.
Later in the evening, the adults replayed our own favorite bits from “Young Frankenstein” and then compared them with those favored and continually re-enacted by our five-year-old. Some of the guests wondered whether they too should allow their children to watch the movie. “I don’t think she’ll get it,” one parent said of her daughter. “It’s not going to hold her attention.” We speculated about how many more years it would be before Charlie really grasped all of the double meanings and innuendos of that movie. We marveled at how his sense of humor was already beginning to take shape at such an early age. Finally, we agreed that this movie was probably the first of many steps leading him to a future career in being funny.
“I just love that kid,” our hostess friend said as the adults sat around the dining room table sipping our wine. “Of course you do,” snickered her husband. “The kid complimented your knockers!”