A cromulent addiction embiggens the smallest man

by Jeff Laughlin

My name is Jeff, and I have an addiction.

My addiction rarely leaves me debilitated, but often leaves me tired. Up all hours of the night, I feed the monster. I have no idea whom I would be or what I would do without my fix.

I don’t remember what life was like before I started using. I know I laughed some, but not like this.

You will not find my behavior in the DSM IV or see a keynote speaker address my problem. Some might even say I do not have a problem.

Webster’s dictionary defines the word “problem” as a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution.

And just like that, I made a reference. You see, am a “The Simpsons” seasons 3-9-aholic.

The untrained ear would miss the allusion to Joe Frazier awarding Homer Simpson the “First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence” (Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?, Season 3, ep 8F23).

This happens all day, mostly going unnoticed.

I constantly point out “a job mediocrely done” (from the popular and addicting Simpsons “Tapped Out” cellphone game) or pointing to the sky to point out that, “This happy little character is the sun, he shines down on the house, see?”

(Bart the Lover, season 3, ep 8F16).

The telltale symptoms can be as far-reaching as social disconnection from the non-animated world, but as subtle as constant quoting and laughter. If possible, I would speak only in quotes from the greatest run of televised humor in history. Alas, I must press on with real-world anecdotes and speak to people with sentences I craft myself.

That does not mean I have to like it. Three years ago, someone began placing episodes of “The Simpsons” on YouTube, sped up slightly. Calling them “Simpsons 1.4x,” this brilliant soul amassed a veritable greatest hits of the show’s run in the ’90s. Instead of a full 20 minutes, each show would run between 14-15 minutes. I flew through my favorites before Fox caught on and removed them. People keep putting them back up under various show-related monikers, but copyright infringement raises flags pretty quickly these days.

Not to be denied, I search daily for the newest brave soul willing to feed the collective addictions of fanatics.

Back in the early 2000s, the internet did not make this search so simple. I had to come home daily to tape syndicated episodes. I sat with my finger on the record button of my VCR (the remote long lost) until I could tell whether the animation moved grimily enough to be “classic.” I had two or three 6-hour tapes at one point. I fell asleep to them nearly every night. I would wake up to use the restroom, catch a joke and laugh as I dozed back off.

Those were the good times. Now, as I make my paces through the seasons, people have moved on to different shows. I do not have the time for those shows.

I do not remember to whom I gave those tapes, but I resent that person. Maybe I just tossed them when I moved to New York City. Though I cannot remember their fate, I remember what each tape — labeled simply “1,” “2,” and “3” — started and ended with, that “2” had a malfunction during the Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in “The Curse of the Flying Hellfish,” and that one of my roommates once asked me politely if I could turn down, or even off, “the same fu*king episodes every night.”

Obviously, I had to rearrange my belongings so that the television no longer sat on the wall next to his room.

I cannot imagine life beyond these shows.

Psychoanalyzing this addiction usually leaves me with weird questions, but the answer is always this: I cannot get enough. My relationship with “The Simpsons” remains the simplest and purest relationship I have ever known. I still laugh when Homer’s hand jams in the toaster (Treehouse of Horror V, Season 6 ep 2F03), when Homer chooses Crab Juice over Mountain Dew (The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson, Season 9, ep 8F1), and when Milhouse does… well, anything.

At some point, my life will press forward and I will share a room with a significant other. I hope that I will not have to devote a separate room to my addiction, since hiding it only heightens the severity. Hopefully, they will appreciate “The Simpsons,” so that I do not have to sneak off to see my first true love.

Whoever they are, I hope they get jokes.