Thursday, January 16, 2014

'Friends' Philosophy

One of the things Derek and I enjoy doing together is watching old episodes of Friends.  Working in television, Derek tends to take the whole experience to the next level, and while he thankfully spares me his thoughts on shot composition and lighting and blah blah blah, he does point out things I'd never notice, like how in one scene Mike's scarf goes from tied to untied about a dozen times each time the camera cuts away from him, or how one scene with Phoebe and Monica has some random dark haired girl standing in for Monica.  Once he pointed it out, I had no idea how I'd never noticed.  With me you get Friends 110, where I laugh at all the jokes I can recite by heart, and maybe even ruin it for you a bit by saying the punchline along with the character, which I'm sure isn't annoying at all.  With Derek you're taking the graduate level course because he's not as gentle as God- no, he will rip those scales from your eyes: "Hey, look, she's wearing a completely different outfit but it's still the same scene," and "Why is that guy in the background walking down the steps when a moment ago he was just entering the building?" and "Wow, that's not even Monica."  Somehow it's enjoyable, and will make you feel like you're now part of some kind of elite pool of Friends viewers, which is exactly as pathetic as it sounds.

In addition to Friends viewing, I find myself thinking about certain episodes way more than I should- such as the "There is no selfless good deed" episode.  In it, two of the characters argue over whether or not truly selfless good deeds exist.  One maintains they do, but can't think of any examples, and one says they don't, that there is a selfish component to every good deed, intentional or not.

I don't know why I think about that so much.  Perhaps because I do feel so good after doing so-called good deeds, which keeps them from being truly selfless.  I've agonized over this for years (seriously.  These still waters don't run so deep.), trying in vain to come up with a selfless good deed.

But finally, finally, I think I may have found one.

It was shortly before Christmas.  I had made it through the day, the children were finally in bed, Derek was at church helping with rehearsals for the Christmas program, and I had a nausea-inducing, crazy painful migraine.

I started getting migraines in my early twenties, and averaged about one a year for several years before having a glorious migraine-free streak that lasted around three years.  That streak was broken on this night, the night of the selfless good deed.

Now, when I have a migraine, I need utter darkness and total silence.  Basically I need an ibuprofen-stocked cave, but those are hard to come by, and pretty boring after awhile anyway.

So I was lying on the couch, my hands pressed hard on either side of my head (because sometimes that helps, too; someone needs to make a migraine vise), listening to Doctor Who; notwithstanding my need for silence and darkness, for some reason Doctor Who is comforting to me when I don't feel well.  I had my eyes closed and the volume was on low, but the blue light flickering through my eyelids was proving to be more than my head could handle, so I had just decided to turn it off and retreat to our bedroom when someone knocked on our front door.

Obviously it was the devil.  No one else has such impeccable timing.  (You didn't know the devil had great timing, did you?  Well he does.)

Shockingly, it was not the devil but a group of smiling tweens who promptly started screaming at me.  They did not stop for two full minutes.  And by "screaming" I mean "caroling."

That's right.  A group of well-meaning kids, led by two kind adults, had come to our house to sing one of my favorite Christmas songs, Oh Holy Night.

Being a native midwesterner- a species of beings whose niceness is rivaled only by Canadians, and who will stop at nothing to be as helpful and polite and kind to family and complete strangers alike, who, upon meeting someone from New Jersey who talked about his loud, raucous Italian family didn't believe him at first because she thought that stuff was made up for tv along with vegetarians and people who meditate- there was nothing to do but hope my painful grimace could pass for a grin and lean heavily on the front door for support.  I almost passed out.  Toward the end there was little silver confetti sprinkling itself across my vision; despite that, I managed what I hope was a genuine-sounding "Wow, thank you so much!  That was lovely!  Merry Christmas!"

Then I crawled upstairs and vomited.

A selfless good deed:  pretending to enjoy and be thankful for somebody else's good deed when in fact it makes you want to die.  I finally found one.  It was not worth it.


  1. Well, you know, no good deed goes unpunished.

    Just yesterday we were watching an episode of Elementary, and I noticed that Sherlock was putting down a jug of milk after adding some to his bowl of eggs, and then right after that, Watson was putting the milk back where he'd picked it up from, which meant it wouldn't have been there for him to pick up. I've explained that very well, haven't I? :-)

  2. I agree that Christmas carolling and migraines do not mix. I'm sorry to hear you were suffering from both at the same time. I think the question of whether there is a truly selfless good deed is a profound and worthy philosophical/theological question. But it's not a good idea to think about it when one has a migraine.

    If I have a migraine (which is not very frequent - maybe once a year) then I lie in a dark room and listen to NPR radio. I can't imagine a migraine getting better by listening to Doctor Who episodes. But the idea of Doctor Who is indeed comforting. I'll bet that sonic screwdriver can fix migraines. We're up to the 2008 season. Maybe it does fix migraines in a future episode (which is in the past for everyone else).

  3. I'm amazed you didn't vomit right there at their feet. If there is such a thing as karma, you've earned some good stuff.

  4. I'm very sorry your viewing of Friends (which is meant to be a time of brainless escape) has been ruined.


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