Real Live Sitcom Moment:
As you’ll see, I’m talking about identity this week, our Real Live Sitcom Moment deals with the issue too and comes from a gathering of my partner’s family.
My potential nephew was going round the room and pointing at all of us “Boy!” or “Girl!” (Depending on our gender) until he got to my partner’s Nan, paused for a moment, then gave up and moved on to the next person. Ouch!
A few months ago I lamented having to post a Real Live Friends late, as I was waiting for something to happen and nothing had.
I wish I could say the same this time.
“The One With the Hard Goodbyes”
God damn you Friends™ this is one coincidence I can’t bear.
My heart quickened when I watched this week’s episode as, after a now familiar scene of Monica being pressured by her mother, Ross returned from the vets with bad news. He was going to have to give up Marcel. It was only yesterday I got the 21st Century equivalent. A text from my mother. Bad news from the vet. Our family dog had perhaps four weeks left. Euthanasia was recommended.
After a few hours of nothing sinking in at my new job the news hit me. I sat and drank a cup of tea and wondered what the point of it all was. Shipping drinks out to people I barely cared for. Is this really what I want to be spending my time doing? Being a cog in some great machine just to keep the wheels turning? All because that’s just the way things are and the price of our comfort is being part of something bigger?
I thought of my dog. The thirteen long years he’d spent as part of our family. The times he’d sat with me and my sister on the sofa, even though he wasn’t allowed. My mother urging him to jump on me almost every morning of Sixth Form to make me get up for school.
All the funny useless tricks.
“Shake hands Barney!”
Why? He’s just a dog.
I thought of his insatiable appetite that nothing could overcome, even as he’s got older and weaker. We once bought a spray can to stop him trying to eat the remote controls – only for him to eat the can.
I thought of all the times I sat at my computer when I could have been spending time with him.
Like Phoebe sitting on the sofa playing her Game Boy™. There but not taking part. Present but not voting.
As the scene of Ross breaking the news to Joey and Chandler played out I found myself crying. Until it turned to laughter when the scene switched to a shot of them in the three monkeys pose. I spent the whole episode alternating between laughing and crying.
Especially in the end scene when Ross says goodbye to Marcel.
But it’s worst for my mother. As we all became adults she’s relied on Barney’s companionship more than any of us. She doesn’t know what she’ll do without him, as she confided in me yesterday. At least my partner and I will still have our cats. Although, much like Marcel, the male ones frequent masturbation is pretty disturbing.
With my worry about whether I’ve made the right decision over my new job, my birthday fast behind me, and our beloved pet at deaths door, Monica’s desire to live more and do more things resonates strongly today. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to take up tap dancing though. This episode is bled through with performance, from Phoebe’s expressionist dancing and acting out in the kitchen to “Monica” and “Monana” auditioning for a Broadway show.
But it also plays a lot with the notion of identity. Both in Joey’s consideration of a stage name, and with Monica’s identity thief showing her she can be a different person. My country has to decide its own identity this week too, as we vote whether to stay in the EU or leave. Whether to be part of something bigger or set out just for ourselves.
A twisted mirror shone over our kitchen earlier as we debated whether to follow the vets’ recommendation, or face prolonged pain and uncertainty in the hope our dog will buck the trend. It was a decision made much harder by how happy he seemed to see me. I would have done anything to be able to kick a ball around with him again. In a note of grim irony all my family’s positions were reversed from our views on the referendum. My sisters agreed it was best for him to go peacefully, my mother argued for him to remain. I wavered.
My sister and mother took Barney out for one last walk, with me tragic-comically running after the car when I, once again, faffed on my computer for too long.
“You at the Back! In or out?”
Monica’s dance teacher snaps me back to reality as she calls to Monica: In or Out? To take part and dance? Or to sit on the sidelines?
I think I’ve decided. I do want to be in my job, to be that cog, to be part of something bigger.
I can only hope Britain decides the same.