jack nicholson laugh

Pass the Popcorn

Once upon a time in a rehab clinic, I was sitting in a group therapy session in which I had no business. My case worker in Bethesda admitted as much to my chain of command after they sent me to rehab in Portland. Navy medicine…

The man running the therapy session saw my agitation because I have no poker face when confronted with moments of sheer stupidity. He asked me how I was feeling, and my response of “I’m feeling a little like R.P. McMurphy” didn’t get any laughs.

I like literate jokes. If you tell one and someone laughs then you know you have an ally in the darkness, or at least a well-read associate.

The group therapy session did not go well. The next day, after an AA session and some more therapy, I walked into the common area hoping to watch something to distract me, if for a little while, because rehashing the worst moments of my life in agonizing detail and then listening to acquaintances do the same creates emotionally scar tissue. Dick and fart jokes go a long way toward healing. I glanced at the television and saw an eerily familiar series of images - the opening credits to a film I adore.

There’s no Netflix in rehab. No Redbox. No On Demand. The television didn’t have the station’s corporate logo in the corner, so I was confused at first. Then I realized someone who works in the rehab facility brought in the DVD. The movie was filmed near the rehab center some 32 years prior. It was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

I looked around hoping someone else was getting the joke. No one? Bueller? Then I spotted Danny, the former Army soldier turned rehab attendant, smiling broadly at me.

I laughed. He laughed. Jack Nicholson laughed as he brought R.P. McMurphy to life. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest INSIDE the cuckoo’s nest? Pass the popcorn, please.