Back in 2012, just a few months after we moved to Germany, my wife made me watch all 5 seasons of Ally McBeal. That’s 112 episodes, each one lasting 45 minutes, which adds up 84 hours of total viewing time. (Coincidentally, 84 hours is exactly how long a man can have his testicles squeezed together in a woodworker’s vise before he begs for death’s sweet, everlasting embrace.)
As you probably know, Ally McBeal was a popular television series which ran from 1997 to 2002. It was a surreal comedy-drama, following a young, self-obsessed lawyer named Ally McBeal as she hallucinates her way through a series of romantic misadventures and magically relevant court trials, which hammer the moral of each episode into your skull with all the subtlety of a howitzer.
Ally works for a fictional law firm called Cage and Fish. One of the firm’s eccentric co-founders, John Cage, has a pet frog named Steffan (pronounced Steh-fahn.) After a series of unfortunate hijinks — involving a lot of girlish screaming, frog-tossing and the poorly timed flushing of toilets — Steffan is killed. A funeral is organized around the toilet in which Steffan met his demise, and the entire cast of the show listens as John memorializes his friend by playing the bagpipes. (The actor, Peter MacNicol, actually plays them in real life.)
I watched this scene with the predictable amount of stone-faced apathy until my German wife raised her eyebrows, nodded her head and announced:
THE WIFE: “It’s pretty impressive he can play the doodle-sack.”*
*The word “Bagpipes” in German is “der Dudelsack.”