*Disclaimer* Well, it seems that all these stories have little disclaimers at the beginning, so here’s mine. I am making tons of money off this, I don’t know how, but I keep getting these checks in the mail from anonymous people. I am now a wealthy zillionair with houses in the four corners of the earth. The Pythons are all close buddies of mine, though I haven’t seen them in 13 years, I’m sure I could call up any of them and they’d instantly know who I am. We’ve had long chats on the phone and picnics in the park and... I’m sorry, all that was a complete lie, and mostly wishful thinking. I’m making no money off this, though some would be nice, and I know none of the Pythons personally. I’d like to go on a picnic with one of them, but there you go. I live in the same area as Eric Idle and John Cleese and I can’t go on one little picnic!! Ok, I’m sorry again, I’m getting out of hand once more. This story has developed in my head over a long period of time, and, as always, Mike is single in it. And without further apologies, here is the story....

The Man in White
November 1969


“Hmm, I’ll have the caprese salad, you know, the one with the mozzarella and tomatoes, and the penne with meat sauce. What about you Lauren?”

“I think I’ll just have the chicken.”

“Thank you ladies, your orders will be along shortly.” The waiter walked away from the table just as someone walked in the front door. I looked over Lauren’s shoulder to see who it was, but it was just a couple out for a Saturday night. I didn’t recognize them.

It’d been almost a year since we’d moved to London from America, and I still didn’t get the English way of not looking at people. Perhaps I’d never learn. Lauren and I were out to celebrate, our apartment was finally finished. We’d been decorating and redecorating for months, and we now had it just the way we wanted.

“I’m glad you finally agreed to the white sofa in the living room, it goes much better with the walls than that black one did.” I was trying to start up a conversation with Lauren, she didn’t seem that talkative tonight.
“Yes, Meredith, I guess it did. I still think we should have gone with green in the bedrooms though.”

“No, I like that blue, it works better. Plus, I don’t...” Just then the front door opened again and I glanced over to see who it was. There were two men and two women, I didn’t recognize them either.

“You don’t what?” Lauren asked.

“Oh, sorry, just looking to see who came in the door. Nobody we know.” I turned to look out the window and a man in a white suit walked past, followed by five others in assorted colors. I followed them with my eyes as they walked up to the door of the restaurant and went inside. A waiter came up to them and led them to the private room at the back. In doing so, they walked right past our table.

“Hey Lauren, do you recognize those guys from anywhere?”

“Yeah, I was just thinking about that.... television maybe.”

“Television, yes, that’s it. But what show?”

“I don’t know... I think I’ve seen that tall one on the BBC a lot. What’s his name?”

“Oh, that’s John Cleese, you know, The Frost Report, and At Last the 1948 Show... So that blonde one has to be Graham Chapman, but who are the other four? And who’s that guy with the long hair?” I’d been a while since I’d seen any guy with long hair, probably not since we left the US.

“John Cleese, oh my, what’s he doing here? And with five other guys none-the-less. Yes, I believe that is Graham Chapman... I have no idea who’s the one with the long hair, I feel like we’re back home in California seeing that hair cut again.”

“That’s what I was thinking, must be American. Hey, why don’t we go say hi when we’re done with dinner?”

“Oh Meredith, we can’t do that, they don’t know who we are. We’re complete strangers to them.”

All this time I was eyeing the one in the white, I really wanted to go over and meet him. He was seated next to someone who was talking very loud, so he seemed to stay quite back there. I wonder who he is... I’d never seen him on television before, I don’t think.

“Come on Lauren, who knows, they might turn out to be really famous some day and then we can tell all our friends that we talked to them back when they were nobodies.”
“This is England, Meredith, people don’t...”

“I know! Please Lauren? I’m older than you and you still make me beg.”

“Fine, but you’re doing all the talking.”

The rest of the dinner conversation consisted mainly of colors and furniture we’d chosen for the apartment, not very interesting. I kept my eye on the one in the white the whole evening, he seemed to keep quite. As dinner came to a close, and we paid the bill, Lauren rose and started walking towards the door.

“Ahem, Lauren, they’re over there.”

“Yes...” She turned and followed me to the private room. I couldn’t tell why she didn’t want to meet them, what harm could it do? Perhaps because she was back in her home country once again she felt more responsible for me, being an ‘American’, but I can take care of myself.

“Uhh... I’ve got to go to the bathroom, will you come with me?”

“What are you Lauren, five? Why do you need me there?”

“I, um, cause I don’t want you...”


“Hey! Watch it!” I turned to look at the person who’d walked into Lauren and I as we were talking and found myself looking into the eyes of the man it white.

“Oh, excuse me, I’m terribly sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going, I was just heading to the restroom and...”

Suddenly I knew who he was, the name appeared clear as day in my mind. “Michael Palin!”

“What?” Both Lauren and Michael said at the same time.

“Michael Palin, that’s who he is,” I said to Lauren. “And that’s Terry Jones, and the one with the long blonde hair is Eric Idle, and that one with the long hair, the one we thought was American, is Terry Gilliam!” I was quite proud of myself for remembering all their names, but apparently Lauren wasn’t, as she turned bright red.

“Yes...” Michael said slowly. “How did you know all our names?”

“Well that’s easy,” I answered. “Because you’re all on tv in that show... um... oh, what is it Lauren?” Lauren was still too embarrassed to answer. “Monty P.... Python... something like that.”

“Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” Lauren finally got out.

“Oh my, you’ve seen the show?” Michael asked, quite startled.

“Yes... who hasn’t?” I answered.

“Wait, you’re American.” Michael turned to me, giving me a quizzical look.

“What is this English obsession with being American, I’m sorry, but everywhere I go my nationality is constantly pointed out. Yes, we’re both from California.”

“Well, I was born here.” Lauren interjected.

“And you watch the show...” Michael still looked puzzled. “Do you like it?”

“Oh yes, funniest think on television.” I answered.

“It’s too bad it’s on so late on a Sunday night.” Lauren added, trying to keep her face from turning bright red again.

“Hmmm... will you meet the rest of the guys?” Michael asked.

“You mean the other Pythons?” This time neither of us could keep cool, my face was heading for Tomatoville faster than Lauren’s. 

“Yes, the other Pythons... will you come back to the table with me?”

How could I pass this up? “Sure.” I said.

Lauren and I suddenly found ourselves facing five other puzzled faces, all looking right at us.

“I, um, I’ve found two fans, this one’s American.” Michael said.

What a lovely introduction, I thought. ‘This one’s American...’ well, at least I’m here. “Yes, I’m Meredith and I was born and raised in California, thank you, and have lived in London for almost a year now. I really like the show, it’s, um, very funny!”

“And... and I’m Lauren. I was born here but moved to California when I was four years old. We moved back here together. I agree, about the show, very funny stuff.” Well, at least those were proper introductions.

“My, she is American. Hello, I’m John Cleese. This is Graham.”

“Hello.” Graham said. In turn all the Pythons went around the table and introduced themselves. Terry Gilliam was the first to make a real comment.

“I’m American too.” He said.

“Really? Where from?” I asked.

“Minneapolis, in Minnesota. I went to collage in Los Angeles though. Where in California are you from?”

“Oh, it’s on the beach side of LA, a little town called Santa Monica.” I answered.

“Oh.” Gilliam replied.

“Tell me, how did you find out about the show?” John asked.

“Well, I was watching BBC news at ten one Sunday in October, and just didn’t turn the tv off when it was over. Suddenly it looked like a drowned man crawled up on a beach and then these show titles came up. The show looked interesting, so I left it on. Meredith here came running in when she heard me laughing so hard. We’ve watched every episode since.”

“So you’ve seen all four episodes that have been aired?”

“Yes,” I answered. “And we’ll watch the fifth one tomorrow night.”

John seemed to be the one leading the conversation, the rest of them sat quietly looking at the two of us, trying to make up their minds whether they liked us or not.

“Do you understand the jokes? I mean, the one thing we all agreed upon was that the show was too English for American audiences.” John asked me.

“I don’t think it’s too English, I may have been born across the Atlantic but I still find it funny. I think you underestimate American audiences.”

“Hmmm....” Finally a sound came out of someone else’s mouth. “Do you think the show would work in America?”

“I think you should first find an audience here, Eric.” Lauren answered.

Just then the waiter came to the table. He gave Lauren and I a strange look, and then spoke. “Your bill.” He placed the bill on the table and the Pythons pulled out their wallets to split the check and pay for it. While they were figuring out the bill, Eric looked over at us, realizing we were still there, and invited us to go have a drink after dinner with them. Another opportunity I could not refuse.

“Sure, we’d love to.” I answered. We all got up from the table, and walked to the door. We trailed a bit behind the Pythons, we still had just met them, after all. Michael held the door open for us, and spoke to me as I walked past him.

“I must warn you, there are a few of us that can get pretty rowdy after a few drinks.”

“That’s alright, we don’t mind.” Lauren answered him.

“Alright then, just follow us in your car.” Mike said.

 “Ok, thanks.” I answered. They all got in their separate cars and sped off to the closest pub, Lauren and I not far behind. The night was young, anything could happen, and I’m sure it would.

To Part 2 -->