I thought we’d already been through this...
“The One Where I Try Not to Talk About Valentine’s Day, Again.”
And finally we get her first exclamation of “Oh My God!” as she bursts in to ruin Chandler’s Valentine’s Day. To be fair she doesn’t seem particularly keen to be there either. I can’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to spend an evening awkwardly conversing with Chandler as Joey gets foot-fondled by his date under the table either.
He splashes out on some Champagne for him and Janice and a Rob Roy (a twist on a Manhatten - appropriately enough - made with Scotch instead of Bourbon) with predictable consequences. This leads to a neat reversal of the walk of shame trope, as Chandler struggles to get Janice out unseen the morning after.
As I touched upon last time, many people my age seem to have a more mature, less judgmental approach to this sort of free “cross-pollination”, falling back on old flames etc. We’re less cool with the concept of marriage though, if my horror at realising this week that several of my past flings are now either married or engaged is anything to go by.
I’m reasonably sure I had similar experiences of this “reverse walk of shame” at university. Although I was likely too hung-over the morning after to care as much as Chandler.
It’s true I have hurt people in the past, and been hurt (regrettably more the former).
However, I’ve never gone to the lengths the girls go to in this episode to get over their exes - as they burn their old mementos. A lot of the hurt I’ve felt has come from struggling to let go of things that never went as far as I would have liked. I don’t particularly regret any past escapades (beyond those where I hurt someone else) so the idea of getting rid of something that represents a past memory seems alien to me. Even if it’s a memory that has now become a sad one.
Not getting rid of old memories can have its downsides though as I discovered early in my current relationship. My partner found a picture of my ex languishing in my bed side table where I’d simply forgotten about it, and she read a lot more into it than there was – not helped by the bedside table also being where I kept my condoms.
Despite hurting and being hurt, I’ve never been close to the level of hurt Ross has. This episode has the first real hint of the actual sadness behind his situation, as (like me and Chandler) he also has to deal with an unexpected appearance of an ex.
The scene includes some comical moments; such as Ross only managing to remember that his new flame works in a field that “WASN’T EVEN THEIR MAJOR”, as well as an actually quite impressive bit where he catches some food in his mouth. But it ends with a surprisingly sad exchange between Ross and his lesbian ex-wife Carol. This brings some much needed pathos to their relationship, as well as helping the viewer root for Ross in his pursuit of Rachel in episodes to come.
I had a similar exchange with my father this week. (In the way it went from light-hearted to serious – I didn’t drunkenly ask if we could get back together even though he was a lesbian).
On return from his holiday he asked to meet with me at his sports club. Naturally, I agreed even though I had some concerns that it was all part of some scheme to obtain some forbidden technological knowledge from me. But as it got closer I started to worry something was wrong. He’d never asked to see him like this before. Had one of the relative’s he’d seen on holiday passed away? Were he and my mother finally breaking up? Or could it be the long expected shock cancer diagnosis?
It turned out it was none of those things, but more a general sort of catch-up of the way my life was going. So I told him of my plans for the next couple of years, we spoke about the rest of our family, and I also took the opportunity to ask him about how he feels his life has been.
Much like me he said he doesn’t see the point in holding any regrets. He’s also a lot less preoccupied with wondering how things might have been different but for a few small changes. And I agree with him! There’s no point concerning yourself with worries over things you can do nothing about. I’ve been much more like him in recent years on these points.
One point we differ on however, which I discovered at our meeting, is that he never wanted kids.
I can imagine this might seem a little like a sucker-punch. But it doesn’t really bother me. Seriously, my dad has always been an excellent father, providing us with all the support we need and being a strong role model in many ways. Although occasionally distant he has given us everything we’ve ever wanted. Any surprise I feel is more just a result of it being different from my own position.
I’ve always imagined I would one day have children. Which makes a lot of sense when you consider my two biggest role models at the time were parents. Mum and Darth Vader.
An inordinate amount of time in my childhood was spent imagining my own adulthood, and a large part of this was seeing myself as a parent. Thinking about what I would do the same as my parents and what I would do different. (Although I now suspect I may not end up being as different as my 8 year old self may have planned).
Where the actual sadness of our conversation came from (yes there’s more) was in another revelation. My dad highlighted the difference in his more hands-off approach from that of my mother. He then proceeded to tell me that he would of course always be there for us, but advice would only be offered when asked and that as far as he was concerned we were adults free to do whatever we wanted with our lives. Which of course I already knew, but what I didn’t know was that he apparently made this decision consciously several years ago after his attempts to talk to us one on one about things in our lives were continually interrupted by our mother appearing and contradicting him.
As well as making me sad at the lost potential of my relationship with my father (see I do still worry about how things could have been different) this has also made me more concerned for my own future as a parent.
Just like Ross, I’ve worried about not being as close to my future children as I’d like. I'm well aware of how work commitments and the ease with which fathers fall into a secondary position of authority over their children can impact upon their relationship. Finding my own father had this exact experience has not put me at ease. As silly as it might sound, I’ve already suffered from not being able to spend as much time with my cats when they were young as I would have liked. I can’t even begin to imagine how I would feel if I couldn’t be fully involved with my own children.
Real Live Sitcom Moment:
There are two RLSM this week, as the first one is so close to Friends™ that I’m pretty sure I imagined it.
We went trampolining this week for Chandler Number 2’s birthday. It was incredible. But not as incredible as finding out her boss recently said to her that she’s got a lot going for her in her career as she could always “play the gay card.” I didn’t mention it in the blog at the time, but this is LITERALLY THE EXACT B-PLOT OF EPISODE 8. Even down to it being the right character. Incredible!
Our second shout-out goes to Joey Number 1 who disappeared without warning during a recent trip to a museum. Despite him assuring us via Facebook™ he would meet us in the pub after, eventually we all had to give up waiting for him as it was time to go our separate ways. We then, of course, ran into him on our way back to the station, perfectly happy at his afternoon listening to music and looking round a museum without us.