“Why are you all saying ‘Casablanca’ so funny?”

While I’m here in the Catskills, Mrs. Nello is on a short trip to Morocco on airline business. She’d never been to the country before; and I’ve never been either. Based on what she’s seen of it so far, she told me by Facetime last night, she thought I’d like it.

The destination for her and several colleagues (they are all British, or working in the UK; none are American) was Rabat. To get there, they landed at Casablanca’s airport. The humor voiced all day among them about that fact was of the predictable sort, including knowing asides that every adult gets, of course.

Right? Surely every adult gets them? Don’t they?

“Our plane is landing in… Casa-blanca.”

“Here we are in… Cahsa-blanca.”

“We are leaving this… Cahsa-blan-ka.”

Finally one of the group, Lynn (name changed to protect the innocent), gave in. She didn’t understand. She asked, “Why are you all saying ‘Casablanca’ so funny?”

I’m not sure where she asked that. My wife wasn’t specific. It might have been over a group dinner in a restaurant.

Lynn is not “old.” Neither is she a teenager. I think she’s in her 40s.

“The film,” my wife replied. “Casablanca.”

My Casablanca DVD here in the Catskills. [Photo by me, last night.]
My Casablanca DVD here in the Catskills. [Photo by me, last night.]

“Film?” genuinely puzzled, Lynn questioned. “What film?”

Evidently jaws dropped. The shared cultural knowledge base we all sometimes take for granted in others. The three or four others also sat there stunned while Lynn admitted her total ignorance of the movie, Casablanca.

“The Humphrey Bogart film,” my wife added. “Lynn, you just blanked my husband’s favourite film. He would fall over if he were here right now.”

Excerpt from "Passports." Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Passports.” Click to expand.

Never having seen the film is one thing. That would be fine. But having been raised in the English-speaking world and not even vaguely recalling having heard of its mere existence?

My wife didn’t make this clear in our Facetime exchange. But suddenly I’m unsure now if Lynn had even heard of Humphrey Bogart? I presume that she had?

Or maybe she hadn’t?

The moral to that story is this: If someone who is well-educated, well-traveled, and works in high management for an airline has somehow never heard of the 1942 smash film, Casablanca (which is regularly close to the top, or at the top, of most lists of the greatest films ever made), there’s no need for *you* as a humble author ever to feel awkward or even slightly embarrassed about someone admitting not having heard of your books. 🙂


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