eric Christmas in harold and Maude

Harold is in his 20s. Maude is in her 70s. The two of them fall in love and sleep together. When news of this gets out, Harold is summoned before his relative the General, then a psychiatrist before, finally, ending up in front of the local priest. Who delivers the following speech.

“I would be remiss in my duty if I didn’t tell you that the idea of… intercourse… and the fact of your firm, young… body… co – ming – gling… with the withered flesh, sagging… breasts and flabby… [barely able to bring himself to utter the word] buttocks, makes me want… to vomit!”

There is no way, even with the liberal use of … to illustrate them, of communicating the force that Eric Christmas brings to each pause in his speech. (And note the way he draws out each syllable of ‘commingling’, practically making it into a separate sentence.) This is a man so disgusted by what he has heard that it is obviously all he can do to prevent himself from throwing up right there on the desk. Yet he goes on. He must.

Overwhelmed by revulsion so strong that it almost chokes him, he says what he must to the deluded young man before him. And the more revolted he is, the funnier his performance. I’ve watched this tiny little scene countless times and not once, ever, have I not ended up in tears of laughter.

© Nick Garlick 2017