I’m going to have to start this one off with a huge apology. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you all in the last issue a fundamental fact about myself: I love the television show Friends more than I love breathing. And I know, I know, it’s a lot of peoples’ favorite show, but for me, the obsession has gotten a little bit obscene. I’m not just tuning into Nick @ Nite every night at ten to let the show lull me to sleep, nor am I just religiously catching the reruns on TBS every afternoon. I’m sitting on my couch for three hours (or four or five…), sticking each DVD from my box sets into the TV and reciting Every. Single. Line.
I’ve read my special edition trivia book cover to cover multiple times, tried my hand at all the spinoffs, have my very own special version of Central Perk with my friends at home (Ultimate Perk, Main Street, Andover Mass. It’s a real gem, you should go sometime) and I honest to God shared at the Thanksgiving table last year that I was thankful for Friends being in my life.
I’m sorry if this rant makes your love for Friends seem inferior, I really am, because that’s not the point of this column. The real point of this column, however pathetic as it may be, is to say happy twentieth birthday, Friends, you’ve shaped my life more than you could know. It’s probably (definitely) more than weird for me to dedicate an entire column to how much I love a television show that isn’t even on the air anymore, but with one that has so steadfastly remained by my side, I think the weirdness is bearable.
So thanks, Friends, for settling disputes amongst the Heath siblings about what we would be watching for hours on end. Thanks for the days where my sister would have it on a long loop and the rest of us slowly, like coffee through its filter, would slide into the living room until we are all laughing beside one another. Thanks for the nights my parents ordered pizza and let us eat it on the couch only if we put Friends on. Thanks for making the show about family, not just friends.
Thanks for the lobsters and the breaks and the letters that are 18 pages—“front and back!” Thanks for Ross and Rachel, for telling me not to give up on people I love (romantically or not) and for showing me that even if in one life you were hurt by someone beyond repair, you still have the room and the strength in your heart to get off the plane.
Thanks for teaching me that “y-o-u-r means your; y-o-u-apostrophe-r-e means you are” and that opinions that don’t matter are like a cow’s opinion—they’re moo. Thanks for telling me that the appropriate response to obnoxious people is “shut up, shut up, shut uuup,” and to tell people I don’t feel like spending time with that “I wish I could but I don’t want to.” And when all else fails? Say it loud and proud: “oh… my… God.”
Thanks for teaching me to be like Chandler and to always laugh at myself, to realize that every once in a while it’s okay to grow up and learn how to love, to see that if a job makes you miserable and isn’t your dream, you should chase after what truly fulfills you.
Thanks for teaching me to be like Phoebe, to be myself and not care what other peoples’ judgments are, to let my spirit be free and to be accepting of people from all walks of life.
Thanks for teaching me to be like Joey, to have love unwavering, to persevere through moments where people don’t believe in you, to be a loyal friend.
Thanks for teaching me to be like Rachel, to be brave, to know that it is possible to start over, to be beautiful on the outside but even more so on the inside.
Thanks for teaching me to be like Ross, to never give up on finding true love, to be a good parent, to know that it is not a bad thing to be passionate about academia and learning.
And thanks for teaching me to be like Monica, for teaching me to clear the clutter from my life, to be determined and focused on what I want, to stand up for myself and to be assertive about what I do and do not deserve.
Thanks, Friends, for the laughs, the one-liners and the love. Happy 20 years.