‘Art imitates Life. Or is it the other way ’round?’
After I wrote last week’s smoke-alarm story — “Things That Go Shriek In The Night,” in case you missed it — I got a message from my pal Nancy (hi Nancy!) who said it reminded her of the Friends episode where Phoebe tried to bash and smother her crazy smoke alarm into submission. Here’s a taste:
So who came up with this bit first, Friends — or me? My friend Terril (hi Terril!) remembers that she was a houseguest back in the nineties when my bashing-with-the-broom incident occurred. She said, “I woke up in middle of the night and through a window I could see you downstairs — standing on a chair while wearing just a t-shirt and swatting at a screaming smoke alarm with a broom. I thought it best not to get in the middle of the warfare. Might have gotten clobbered with a broom handle if I’d gone downstairs and said ‘So, Alice…what’s up?'” Good call, Terril. Good call.
But then, TV Friends started in the nineties, so who knows? They could have been first. Also, it turns out that battering a smoke alarm into submission is not that rare a “thing.” I got lots of responses from real-life Friends who had similar experiences. One even sent me a photo of the stool she had to teeter atop to get within bashing range of hers. (Thanks MABH!)
But, back to Friends. I had never watched it when it was on TV. Maybe I was too busy having real adventures to watch someone else’s? But then, a couple of years ago I read that the show was celebrating its 25th anniversary, and I was like, “Why not check it out?”
Well. To say that I binged it would be putting it mildly. I could write another post called “The One Where I watched Friends episodes like a rat in a Skinner Box.” But I won’t. Suffice it to say that I embraced the whole Twenty-Something Roommates-as-Friends premise with wide-open eyes.
But then along about the time I got to “The One With All The Kissing” I realized something. I had had my fair share of friends — but I had never had a roommate.
Oh, of course I had college roommates. Back when the earth was cooling and I was in school you couldn’t get around that. Freshman year I had Roxanne who told me that being a Lutheran wasn’t the same as being Jewish. Gee, thanks, Roxanne. (See “L’Shana Tovah, Rocky, Wherever You Are” for deets.)
Sophomore Year it was Karen, the roomie who was always dieting. Who instructed me to tell her to stop when she started eating something, thus making me responsible for her waistline. She once confessed that she had eaten the Rice Krispie Treats that were under my bed. Me: “What Rice Krispie Treats? My mother hasn’t sent me any in months.” (Pause to register Karen’s stricken look): “Oh.”
And Senior Year I was blessed with The Roomie Who Stole My Boyfriend (Larry of “Larry and the Nose Holes” fame). I was done with him, but still. I can’t recall her name, which is probably just as well.
But I’d never had a Friends-type roommate. You know, someone you lived with not in college. Someone you actually picked out. Someone who you not only shared an apartment with but also clothes and chores and parties and dinners and TV-watching — and adventures.
Had I missed out on a really important part of life?
I pondered this a while. Then I remembered “The One Where They’re Up All Night” — which is the one where Phoebe annihilates her smoke alarm — and thought, “Nah.”
Amagansett, New York. July 2021