Don’t you love it when you’re going about your day, not concentrating on being especially creative or witty, and then something happens and everyone in the room sees a connection to some line from a book or a movie?

Like you’re working in the garden on a Saturday, and those noisy kids from down the road are staging an impromptu skateboarding expo in your driveway, and you’re wondering what the Lord was thinking when he invented testosterone, when all of a sudden, “Wagter” – your neighbour’s massive Boerbull comes lolloping down the street, his teeth bared in a beautiful grin, and his hair standing up in a way that (at that very moment) can only be described as “dashing”. The skateboarders bid a hasty retreat, Wagter in hot persuit, and all the neighbours smile at each other triumphantly. Somewhere over the fence you hear someone say what everyone was thinking:

“Run Forest, run!!”

This is a Universal. Practically everyone understands it, and most people have a sentimental attachment to these sorts of phrases. Some universals are more universal than others. For instance, there is a certain segment of society that probably will not have watched the classic Jack Black movie “Nacho Libre”. These people will not understand if they find their teenage boy running around the backyard in his Jockeys with a powder blue towel wrapped around his shoulders, singing happily to himself:

“I am I am, I think I am, I’m proud I am, a real religious man!”

Which I think is quite sad.

I believe that the generation gap could be bridged quite easily if we would all follow a simple plan. Every Tuesday night, parents should give their teenage children R60.00 to go to the dvd rental and get two movies that they would like to watch. These must be their movies, not the one’s they think their parents would like to see. For my generation (I’m in my mid-twenties), my parents would spend their Tuesday evenings watching “Biodome”, “Dumb and Dumber”, “Ace Ventura”, “Tank Girl”, the “Mad Max” movies, “Wedding Singer” and stuff like that. Then, on Wednesday night, the teenagers would have to sit through two movies that their parents grew up with. Stuff like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, “Tootsie”, “Big”, “MASH”, “Indiana Jones” and the original “Star Wars” movies. Through this cultural exchange program, we will promote understanding, harmony and tolerance. This may in fact be the key to world peace!

My family has it’s own set of Universals, and we all understand what they mean. I say them because my father says them. He says them because my Grandfather said them. I never had the priviledge of meeting my father’s father. Still, I feel a strange but comforting connection to him, and maybe it’s because when I’m watching a movie with my family and the tension is mounting, I find myself almost involuntarily muttering the words my grandfather said to his family so many years ago:

“The thlot pickens!”

If grandfathers can look down from heaven and see into their family’s livings rooms, I hope my grandfather smiles when I use one of his universals. I hope he knows that he is still a part of us.