“I’ve just pissed in my pants and nobody can do anything about it.”
I love that scene and that line. No truer statement has ever been spoken. Major Fambrough says it like a simple statement of fact as he presents the crotch of his pants for viewing. It’s a pivotal moment and he seemingly comes to a realization.
There is something childlike about him. Right before that line, Lieutenant Dunbar tells him that he wants to see the frontier. The Major is pleased with such a request and sees himself as sending the Lieutenant on a knight’s errand. As the Lieutenant is walking away, the Major knocks on the window to get his attention and he is almost gleeful in his toasting to their respective journeys.
“Long live the King.”
The reason I love this scene is because I can relate. I’ve dealt with depression and have hit rockbottom a time or two.
When in the deepest states of hopelessness, basic facts take on profound meaning. We normally don’t take seriously the simple details of our existence. But occasionally something forces us to see the world without preconceptions and the world becomes a stark reality.
Despite the humor of it, Major Fambrough’s statement is an existential insight of great import. The truth he states is so blatantly obvious when you think about it: “…nobody can do anything about it.” It’s almost a declaration of freedom. In that moment, he is no longer hiding his shame.
Just imagine the sense of relief you would have if you realized you no longer had to put on a facade for anyone else again, that you could just be yourself completely, no more trying to impress anyone or live up to external expectations. Just imagine what it would feel like to realize the pettiness of all your fears and self-judgments, and just letting them all go. Just imagine being fully honest with yourself for the first time in your entire life.
Before Major Fambrough’s last words, he has a last interaction with one of the men in the office. He tells the other man that he wants his crown now. He gets irritated and starts yelling. The other guy tries to soothe him, and the Major realizes he is in control even if only in the simplest of ways. He says ‘no’ and closes the door while a smile comes to his face. He is almost delighted in that moment. He can say ‘no’ to it all. It’s the last bit of control he has left. He says it three times with increasing conviction.
“No… no… no…”