Let’s not waste too much time on whether it’s true or not as I’m typing this up hurriedly at work. With my exceptionally long fingers. Read on for:
“The One Where Strange Coincidences Start to Happen”
Despite predicting my life would prove much less eventful than that of the Friends™, no sooner have I started Real Live Friends than a host of strange, sit-com like, occurrences have happened! Like a sort of Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon but with less death.
First we had the mysterious incident of my academic friend, then two Real Live Friends going on a break, but this week it was my turn for an unusual happening... which could easily have appeared in Friends™:
We were driving home and a fox ran out ahead of the car. He was quite far away so I carried on as normal, until we heard a loud bang from the side of the car. Turns out a dog was chasing him and ran straight into my car!
We stopped and ran over. The owner was there, surprisingly chilled out for someone whose dog had just hit a car. He said he'd just got home opened the front door and the dog dashed out after the fox. Fortunately, after a few minutes of us fussing over the dog he was up and seemed ok. Perhaps a little dazed, but that's to be expected after you've head butted a Vauxhall Astra at speed.
It's not like I needed another reason to think dogs were stupid but if I ever do get one (a dog not a reason) someone please remind me to get a house with a porch first. Or as I shall call them from now on: "a dog airlock".
My own 'Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' has a strange sort of synergy with this week’s episode.
Ross finds out his dog didn’t really “go off to the farm” when they were younger. Also something’s just struck me (much like the dog): unlike the Friends™, I have a car, due to being forced to the suburbs. With their well located flats (see: Rent Control) the friends have no need for a polluting car, instead having (the questionable) luxury of taking public transport.
Time now I think for the first “diversity report”: This episode continues to buck the trend with the second appearance of a black character, this time working with Monica. However the P.C. points they get for that are slightly undermined by some quite blunt and lazy gay jokes.
In the big game of liberal Friends™ foosball it’s Black People: 1 - Gay People: 0 with everything to play for... (NB. I’m not actually going to keep score as if there’s some sort of battle between marginalised groups to see who is most oppressed. Because there isn’t.)
Before we get a bit more serious I have a few light observations. This episode starts with a character fobbing off Phoebe after a date with the phrase “we should do this again”.
This reminded me of later in the series when notoriously poor date/relationship ender Chandler attempts to employ this phrase only to accidentally prolong a relationship by altering it to “I’ll call you and we’ll do it again sometime!” I wonder whether this was a conscious continuation of the joke on the part of the writers, or a case of them reusing a similar joke and not realising?
We also get our first glimpse of Gunther serving drinks behind the bar. I’m sure this character needs no introduction to anyone who’s watched the series before. I will be interested to see how long it is before he’s given his first line. I expect it could be a while as James Michael Taylor was only given the role for being the only "background artiste" capable of using the coffee machine.
It's all a bit Chandler-centric as we see his battles with nicotine addiction for the first time. This offers a welcome chance for the writers to broaden out his character. He was less well established than the others at the start due to his propensity for speaking in jokes. It also highlights another difference between now and the nineties: the ability to smoke inside.
As an ex-smoker I can relate all too well to Chandler's desperation but it makes for amusing viewing as I'm reminded of the lengths smokers go to feed their habit when Chandler attempts to smoke in the rain.
Oddly, despite most of my Real Live Friends now being non-smokers, my real life has once again tied in with this week’s episode as “Ross No. 2” has sadly taken up smoking in the wake of his break. This of course now puts him in the unenviable position of being both “Ross No. 2” and “Chandler No. 1” so hopefully we will see improvements in both of those areas soon. (I say unenviable but I was kind of hoping I would be “Chandler No. 1”...)
Many things have been said about how difficult it is to stop smoking but Allen Carr (no not that one) and I would argue it’s easy. I was a confirmed smoker for seven years before reading his book and have now been a non-smoker for almost two years so would recommend it to any of you who are sick of it. I suspect if Chandler had read Allen Carr’s book this episode would have been a lot shorter.
I think there is a large role friends (as opposed to Friends™) play in whether people stop smoking or continue. Of my Real Live Friends just over half were smokers for a long time until we reached a tipping point when a few of us stopped. From then on the transition to almost all of us being non-smokers was markedly more rapid.
My partner and her friends, however, have yet to reach this tipping point with most of them still smoking and she's found it very difficult to stop as a result.
Real Life Sitcom Moment of the Week:
Seeing as I’ve already mentioned the dog/car fiasco I must use another incident for this week’s Real Life Sitcom moment. Fortunately, as I mentioned at the start, they’re suddenly bloody everywhere!
This one comes in the form of “Phoebe No. 2” otherwise known as – a friend from work who left recently to pursue their work as an artist. However they’re not “Phoebe No. 2” because they’re creative but rather because, just like Phoebe in this episode, they've recently been the recipient of unexpected money.
Although they left work around six months ago, due to an administrative error, they’re still getting money periodically appearing in their account!