Friday, April 29, 2011

A Thought About Friendship - What We Learn from Television and Movies

A while back I wrote a blog about friendship and proceeded to give some of my own friends an assignment. What did friendship mean to them? Was there a moment or story that came to mind when I asked about the importance of friendship? A couple of blogs ago, you read my friend Shannon's story about learning about friendship through her mom's example. This week, I have an entry from Alicia Arinella. Alicia and I have been friends now for over 8 years and we've both witnessed each other go through many major changes in that time. Have a read and see what you think. As always, I'd love to hear from you!

I must admit, it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to write in response to your question, 'Will you write a little something about what friendship means to you?'

It made me wonder, how do we even figure out what friends are supposed to be in the first place. As Shannon wrote so well in her post about friendship and mom's last week, I guess we learn our first lessons from our parents. But where else do we learn about friendship?

For me, I learned a lot about frienship through movies and television. I'm a pop culture junkie (or at least I was in my formative years). I was surrounded by stories of successful pals - their loyalty, trust and companionship. So I bring you back to my early years and what shaped my meaning of friendship.

#1 - My Little Pony (The Movie)
I'm not sure if you remember this fantastic contribution to the home video market from 1986. No? Let me fill you in. So all the ponies are around preparing for a festival. Baby Lickety Split (she's got ice cream cones on her tooshy - I'm already a huge fan) is one of the ponies preparing a dance number (what's that you say, DANCE? I'm doubly in). BLS is practicing with her good friend Spike (a dragon - AWESOME). On the actual day of the performance, BLS tries to steal the number by interrupting the routine with a grand entrance while wearing a wild outfit and improving on the choreography with her own flair. She is scolded, embarrassed, and vows to run away. What follows is a big song from BLS and Spike where they sing, "I'll go it alone!" and, "Don't go it alone!" They agree to face the world together. I was riveted.

How did this seep into my real life? Pretty profoundly. Every time a babysitter came over and tried to get me to take a bath, I would pack a suitcase with my blanket (think child's binky) and "run away." This consisted of me running around a big rock in my back yard while my babysitter chased me. I was a N.I.G.H.T.M.A.R.E. But, every time I "ran away" my sister (and best friend) was always at my heels singing her own rendition of "Don't got it alone." We watched, My Little Pony: the Movie on repeat, and what we took away from it was that even when friends in your life are acting like crazy people, it's important to support them - follow them into the breech my friends - and defend them against the evils that the world has to offer (like baths).

#2 - Han Solo and Chewbacca
That's right - it all comes back to Star Wars. Although for the sake of this argument I could just as well have said Strawberry Shortcake and her band of renowned. Han and Chewie not only are the coolest cats this side of the Death Star, BUT they also have each others backs. They know that going into any challenge, it's going to be easier if they're together. They may quarrel along the way about the best way to do things, but they're a unified front in fighting the man (aka: the Emperor). Same goes for Strawberry Shortcake vs. the Peculiar Purple Pie Man.

When I was growing up, I thought I knew what their friendship was all about. However, it took some "big girl challenges" to realize that sometimes in life we face some decisions or turning points that just....well they suck. But if you have a good friend by your side, supporting you, willing to fly wing-man on your falcon? It makes it worthwhile. And it doesn't matter if this friend is male, female, black, white, or extremely hairy. A friend is a friend. For all of you non-geeks out there, try this analogy - there are a select few that I would go into a foxhole with and be happy share the long arduous hours there - no matter what the cost.

#3 - The Golden Girls
Let me just say these sassy young things were the first Sex and the City. Pioneers! These women taught me what it meant to have girl friends. Each character brought her own baggage and her own life's lessons to serve as "learning moments" for her roommates and for the audience. We all had our favorites (I was quite fond of Sophia and her need to carry her bamboo handled purse everywhere), but we learned to love them all for their uniqueness, their comic timing and their ability to solve everything with cheesecake.

To this day, I think about my life in terms of these ladies from Miami. Say, for instance, I'm at the movies and I turn and see a friend actually CRYING at Bride Wars. Well, I just pull Dorothy's dry reality out of my pocket and, in lieu of hitting her over the head with a newspaper, I just turned to her and say, "Stop it!" Through each of their unique Golden Girls's ways of handling the situations that life threw at them, I learned that you have to love your friends for who they are and sometimes provide a smack on the back of the head when they're acting crazy.

So I guess I absorbed a lot about what friendship was "supposed to be" through different cultural influences, but until I went through some serious changes, I didn't really know what friendship was all about in reality. For instance, you and I were always close, but when my mom died and you dropped everything to be my side and sang your own version of "Don't Go it Alone," rode wing man to my fear and hit me over the head with a newspaper, it solidified my feelings about you. And now? Well you're stuck with me forever.

And I'll be your wingman anytime.

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