Five Ways Something Ruined My LifeFive Ways ‘The Simpsons' Ruined My LifeErin Mallory Long

I’ve been watching the trials of the Simpson family since they were just little cartoons on The Tracey Ullman Show. (I don’t want you to think I’m exaggerating; I literally remember watching Tracey Ullman as a little kid.) Watching The Simpsons was always something we did together as a family (and perhaps while eating dinner in front of the TV like our beloved TV counterparts) and it definitely shaped my life in many ways I’d probably rather not admit.

I have a bunch of Simpsons books (including that giant hardcover complete episode guide), a Flaming Moe’s pint glass, little figurines of the characters, a Lisa doll I picked out myself from the toy store at 8 years old, a souvenir tee shirt from Barcelona with the family on it, and a million other things I’ve collected over the years – including valentines I bought this year but never gave out. And obviously I was all over going to the 7-Eleven-turned-Kwik-E-Mart when the movie came out.

But it goes even further than that. The reason my husband and I initially started talking and then dating was because we discovered our mutual love for The Simpsons. I mean, it sounds crazy, but that was the start of it. He famously woo’d me by inviting me to his dorm while we were studying abroad in Dublin to “watch Simpsons and have orange juice” (because I was sick at the time) and we’ve been obsessively re-watching The Simpsons ever since.

1. Named My Cat After A Simpsons Non Sequitur

Do you immediately know that Rory Calhoun is a Simpsons reference? If you do, we’re now best friends. If not, you can make fun of me for asking.

It happens in the episode “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds” which has that amazing ‘Be Our Guest’ song spoof in it.

Burns: There you are…there you go, little fellow…and you. Smithers, look: he’s standing up.  I’ve never seen anything so adorable!  Do you know who it reminds me of?

Smithers: Benji?

Burns: No.

Smithers: Lassie?

Burns: No, no, no, a person. You know who I mean.

Smithers: Snoop Doggy Dogg?  Bob Barker?  David Brenner?

Burns: No, no!  The person who’s always standing and walking.

Smithers: Rory Calhoun, sir?

Burns: That’s it!

So when my husband and I got a cat back in 2006 and noticed that she was really good at standing on her hind legs, we named her Rory Calhoun (we call her Callie usually, or just Cat. . . for hilarity’s sake).

Who gets pleasure out of this name? Mostly us. But it’s great to tell someone the cat’s name and have them get it and just bond.

Similarly, we were just “joking” about naming a potential future son of our Bort.

2. Became Obsessed With “Getting” Pop Culture References

We already know I like TV crossovers, but I’m just as interested in just references in pop culture to other media.

Watching The Simpsons as a kid definitely shaped the way I think about humor and what I find funny, but it also made me obsessed with understanding all the references they were making. I remember watching episodes with my parents and they’d laugh and I wouldn’t quite understand what was funny. So they’d explain “oh, they’re making fun of this” or “that was a show we used to watch”. I started understanding the concept but still wasn’t always getting the jokes. So every time they’d laugh and I didn’t know why it was funny, I assumed it was a “reference” and would demand that they explain it to me.

I was a great little kid.

But this has crossed over to everything I watch. It’s even a thing where if I DO get something, I am such a jerk about bringing it up to other people.

Erin [laughing too loudly]: Do you know what that’s a reference to? No? Oh man, it’s SO funny if you get it.

You can also replace this game with the Guess What Not Well-Known Actor That Is game. Also a crowd pleaser.

3. Can’t Be in a Dressing Room Without Thinking I’m Being Watched

This one is a little obscure, but bear with me, because this is a big one for me.

So, you know how you’ll go into a dressing room and sometimes it has that sign that says “dressing room may be monitored by same-sex personnel”? Well, I always imagine a series of hidden cameras behind the glass and a team of people monitoring the rooms from a giant security office.

“Why would you do that?” you may ask. The answer is simple.

An episode of The Simpsons called “Lisa the Greek.” In it, Lisa is spending time with Homer helping him bet on football games so Marge takes Bart out shopping so they can bond.


So I literally thought that’s what those signs meant! Obviously now I’m an adult and I “understand” that they don’t do that but I still get really paranoid in dressing rooms that someone is watching me in real time and making sure I’m walking out with the right socks on.

If the tag accidentally falls off when I’m in there or something, I just go into panic mode.

4. Cling To Other Simpsons Fans For Dear Life

Watching The Simpsons was some high-quality family bonding time for me as a child and was really my first foray into liking something my friends didn’t necessarily watch. Even now I don’t know MANY girls who watch the show or any who really grew up watching it. I always knew kids whose parents didn’t allow them to watch it and that was always really weird to me since my parents encouraged me to watch it so much.

As a result, I always got really excited when I found other fans, especially in high school and college. I remember having episode wrap-up conversations sophomore year of high school with two guys who I still totally associate with the line “China’s still cool, you pay later!” which is from “Bart to the Future”.

I mean, come on, I married someone just because he also loves The Simpsons (okay, maybe there were other reasons, but that was the main one). We even attend a Simpsons trivia night every month at a bar in Brooklyn, where we compete and bond with our fellow Simpsons nerds.

I guess all this means is my hilariousness can completely be traced back to (and blamed upon) my intense love for The Simpsons and I will at least always have something to talk to you about as long as you also love The Simpsons.

5. Inserted Totally Obscure Simpsons References Into My Wedding

Since we owed the show our relationship, when my husband and I started planning our wedding, we sat down and had to decide how to honor our love of The Simpsons without being insane. This meant: don’t anyone dress up like characters but maybe we can have some references sprinkled in.

We settled on naming each table after a place in The Simpsons with the caveat being that it couldn’t be a place that was too obvious. No “Springfield Elementary” tables for us! This became hilarious because then we got to make people sit at tables like “Little Pwagmattasquarmsettport” and “Crazy Vaclav’s Place of Automobiles.” We also gave out little buttons as favors that said, “…and it goes on like this.” Which, of course, comes from the wedding vows that Homer gives Reverend Lovejoy in “A Milhouse Divided” (very possibly the best episode of the series).

Reverend Lovejoy: I will now read these special vows which Homer has prepared for this occasion. Do you, Marge, take Homer, in richness and in poorness, poorness is underlined, in impotence and in potence, in quiet solitude or blasting across the alkali flats in a jet-powered, monkey-navigated… and it goes on like this.

The best part though was, since my parents are also really into The Simpsons, I was able to convince my dad to buy Jimmy pig cufflinks like Homer passes down to Lisa’s almost-husband, Hugh.


Obviously, not everyone got the jokes, but it meant something to us and that’s basically all weddings are for. One day I’ll write a book called It’s Your Wedding, You Can Do Literally Whatever You Want.

I’m always going to watch The Simpsons and even though the episodes are not as good as when it was at its peak, I’ll still be one of those fans freaking out when the show gets canceled. It’s such an enormous part of my life, I don’t know what I’d do without it.

I mean, it’s a perfectly cromulent show.

(All images mine except the main image which is from here)

  • Charlene O’Sullivan

    I grew up with The Simpsons and I’d say it had A LOT to do with shaping my personality and especially my humour! I think it’s hilarious though, that some people’s parents stop them from watching it! It’s something I’ll never understand!
    But I’m always referencing the show in real life to the point where I’ll just say something faintly applicable to the situation like “I’m sorry Marge I can’t it’s chinatown!” (I actually just watched Chinatown just to get that Simpsons reference as I have the same condition of wanting to understand them ALLLLL!) And then if it’s someone who doesn’t get it I’ll just go – simpsons lol but I have to say I just quote it incessantly! Oh well….blue m&m red m&m they all wind up the same in the end.
    I will never be the daaarling of the ‘city fathers’ who stroke their beards cluck their tongues and say what’s do be done with this homer simpson.
    As for you article….what can I say, you did your best and you failed miserably. The point is: never try. ;)

  • Victoria Griffiths

    Love the Bort reference :)

  • Shelley Riley

    I can easily relate to all of these–particularly #2! I watched The Simpsons with my parents religiously, plus we taped them all and I’d rewatch them obsessively. I bought that episode guide book when it came out and spent hours poring over it trying to understand every little reference and joke. Now when there is an obvious reference to something on tv I immediately have to google it to understand and because of this I have become pretty awesome at trivia night.

  • Sean Bridget Quinn

    Called my mom about your cuff links and she reminded me that one year for Christmas my father got a friend of a friend who worked as an artist on the Simpsons to draw my family’s portrait as if we were characters on the Simpsons. Yay, imaginary Christmas!!

    • Erin Long

      All of that is amazing. I love it. I’m so glad we aren’t the only obsessive family out there.

  • Sean Bridget Quinn

    You are wonderful. My family is just as much simpson fanatics as you and your husband are. We constantly quote the episodes as they apply in real life. I’m not sure that my father has ever told me that he is proud of me straight out. He always says:
    “What’s the oposite of shame?”
    “Not that far from shame.”
    “Less shame?”
    Everyday life wouldn’t be the same without The Simpsons!

    Also, as a weird side note, the moment marge says she taped over the wedding video in the movie could possibly be the most heart wrenching and tear jerking moment of my life.

  • Dawn Rae Downing-Geisendorfer

    (<3 <3 <3)1000 it!!! my boys first "word" was D'OH but i went the traditional route with the cat naming – snowball…. ;)

  • Anna Hendrick

    As your maid of honor, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that I also weaseled Homer + Marge into my toast. I think I would have spontaneously combusted if I hadn’t.

    • Erin Long

      You’re so right! I totally overlooked that!

  • Sandra Byles

    I have a friend who I have known for about ten years now, and I’d say at least 85% of our friendship is based solely around texting each other Simpsons quotes, apropos of nothing. The last one he sent?
    “The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.”

    Naturtally, my response was “That’s a right triangle, you idiot!”

    • Erin Long

      AHH *works!

    • Erin Long

      I like to use “your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.” Or “I am familiar with the words of Pablo Neruda.”

  • Taylor Phillips

    Also, we had a benefits meeting at work and every time the guy said “financial planner” I thought “financial panther, eh?”

  • Rachael Glasco

    I was one of those kids who wasn’t allowed to watch the Simpsons growing up, or any show that might have a negative influence on me (sooooo very sheltered), so when I was actually able to go out and buy the show on dvd and watch it without an overbearing mom breathing down my neck, I jumped on it. I love the series and I feel very connected with Lisa, as I was a wierd little genius with few freinds and odd quirks. The show has taught me alot over the years and widened my casche of referrences, as I, like you, searched for what the references they made were pertaining to.

    “… can I take it off now? The grease is burning my finger.”

  • Taylor Phillips

    Oh man, I grew up in a Simpsons-loving family, TOO. I was always a little bothered when people told me their parents wouldn’t allow them to watch it.

    And, since someone above mentioned it…every time I see the Seattle monorail go by (i.e. almost every day), I start chanting “monorail, monorail…” in my head.

  • Rosie Gordon

    This is awesome! Just so you know I quoted Homer at my sisters wedding for my maid of honor speech as advice for her new husband from a very important man in our lives.
    The advice was: “When a woman says nothing’s wrong, it means everything’s wrong. When a woman says that everything’s wrong, it means everything’s wrong. And when a woman says that something isn’t funny, you’d better not laugh your ass off.”

  • Mallory Alden

    you, my dear, are amazing. i think we could be best friends, except that my mom and stepdad didnt approve of me watching the simpsons because of younger sibs, but weekends at my dads? simpsons were a-okay! my dad’s and my favorite line is, natch, from our fave episode, Marge vs. the Monorail, “I call the big one bitey!”

    • Erin Long

      Oh man, such a good episode. I really could do a whole thing on just my favorite episodes.

  • Jason Myrowitz

    If things don’t work out with your husband, I think I just fell in love with you.

  • Håkan Kjellgren

    Oh, and PS: What do you mean “…when the show gets canceled”?? How can you even assemble those words? You monster!

  • Håkan Kjellgren

    Cromulent, indeed!
    I fully relate to your list! Well, at least on some spiritual level, since the details of my life differ somewhat from yours (I am unfortunately a little too old, and much too Swedish, to have my early childhood having been Simpsonized, I’m Moefully unmarried, the dressing rooms where I live usually aren’t monitored (at least not to my knowledge – if they are, they totally are in the “Lisa the Greek” way), I’m allergic, so I don’t have a cat (or dog) to name Rory Calhoun, et cetera…). But “The Simpsons” is interwoven into my very existence in quite the same way, I guess, with me referencing tiny episode tidbts all the time. For instance, every time I have something explained to me at work (or someone else close-by in the office has something explained to her/him), I go “Aaoh, a GYM!” To which my desk neighborino always respons, in a very killjoy (and very Lovejoy) tone: “That never gets old, does it?”
    Anyway, long story short (…is a phrase whose origins are complicated and rambling)…: I loved this post! Guess I only have one objection, being of course that “The Simpsons” obviously did not ruin your life, but rather quite the opposite (yes, I get that it “ruined” your life ironically, but I just had to complain in one way or another. If anyone’s life got ruined by the simpsonization of your life, it’s mine, you being married to some other guy and all… Ah well, off I go to Millhouse-stalk you on twitter…)

  • Ashley Little

    I love this! My husband and I also started seriously talking and hanging out once I found out that his AIM screen name was Little Rutager. We work references into our life on a daily basis. As a bonus, his name is Rory, so I frequently call him either Rory Calhoun OR Rory B. Bellows.

    • Erin Long

      That’s adorable! I love that. We should form a club! A “No Homers” Club, of course.

  • Elizabeth Polit

    OMG — the cufflinks!! I am grinning like a crazy person right now! I love the Simpsons. I grew up watching it with my family, like you. My dad called it “educational tv”, which I still don’t understand. lol My favorite episodes were always the Halloween specials. I get really excited every time Fox plays them!

  • Bryan Luong

    Haha totally get where your coming from, it’s such a great feeling to find someone who understands the obscure references to the Simpsons you slip into your daily vocabulary. Such a great show, connecting people worldwide

  • Anna Freja Korvin

    I feel like this with South Park.
    Except I don’t know every episode’s name :P

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