Some people dream of fortune and fame, a successful career, the perfect family with 2.5 kids and a Volvo in the driveway. Wait, I dreamt of that stuff too, but my overriding fantasy in life, my true romance-- a weekly lunch date with three fun-loving, well-dressed friends.
I was essentially an only child, and one who never had that group dynamic in friendship--not in grade school or high school, not during my tour in the military, not ever. Friends I had, though relatively few, but there was no connection between them--separate lives, separate friends. As a transplant from the West Coast living in the DC area, there's no one in my area code with whom I'm particularly close. No one to call for a movie date. If you don't count kiddie flicks with my kid. I'm always in the theater alone.
Sometimes you get lucky and marry into the life you want. Not me. My husband has even fewer friends than I do. For him, friendships come at too high a price--all that nurturing and tending, better to save that for his garden. So, our dinner parties are populated almost entirely by family. There are no outings with "the girls". Now that I have a family of my own, the yearnings have subsided a bit, but for much of my life it was just me and my fictional cohorts.
Seinfeld and the gang saw me through my early twenties, a time when I had few dates and fewer buddies. I was in the Air Force and not loving military life. Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer kept me in stitches during the four years Uncle Sam kept me in uniform. As a medical lab tech I wore a little white dress with my meager rank pinned on the collar, but not on Fridays. Friday was BDU day for everyone, even the white shoe softies.
Thursday night I would shine my combat boots and painstakingly iron the various pockets and flaps on my battle dress uniform while I chuckled at Kramer's trademark wacky. The very visage of him made me smile. Of course everyone in New York was funny and cool. When I get out of these clutches maybe I'll go. There was such a strong sense of rhythm in the Seinfeld/David scripted comedy. The show played like a jazz record. They jammed and I snapped along.
It seems I met Seinfeld just as I was finding my own sense of funny. Not to put too fine a point on it, but as I look back, this show in particular marked the beginning of my cultural independence. Most black people I knew were not fans. The reason, I suspect... they just didn't give it a chance. For instance, my dad thought Seinfeld was excessively corny at first. The idea of a show about a group of Jewish white folks in New York wasn't so relatable for a black, Vietnam vet who grew up in small town Louisiana. After some prodding from me, he warmed to it...to some extent. I was an outlier in terms of my tastes as well as many other ways I had yet to discover.
As I transitioned from my 20s
into what I had hoped would be my "crazysexycool"
phase, the glamorous gals from Sex In the City had all that and then some. They too were based in my beloved NYC, but this time it was all girl-power all the time. Four women--empowered and independent, also vulnerable and needy in all the same ways I was. If you're wearing a size 0 Prada dress with a pair of Manolo Blahniks
and you still can't find love...well, than a girl like me shouldn't take it personal. Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda took lunches together by day and sipped Cosmos by night. My fantasy was complete.
In those days, I was always waiting to be...thinner, richer, smarter, popular, married. Then I would have more friends and I could really do it up. While I waited, my youth was steadily ticking by. Samantha's audacious spirit reminded me to appreciate and enjoy my young time, and when I'm not so young, enjoy the hell outta that time too.
My lifestyle bore no comparison to that of these fictional sirens. I could never afford the Blahniks, for sure, but I always seemed to find a DSW number or two to put a little Carrie in my step. Instead of couture, it was Marshall's and Filene's, but I made the most of it just as I knew Carrie would. You wouldn't know it watching the SITC films where it's all about the glamour and little of what made the original show a friend. But what came through the small screen for me was the idea that I could be living my life out loud and entirely in the moment. Yes, I was a hot little mama too. Me-warts and all.
And so it was. The young hipsters saw me through my fitful youth, and in fine style, but when the chips were down and there were no smiles to be found, it was a group of older babes -The Golden Girls of sunny Miami-who held my hand and kept me on the sane side of sad.
At 32 I had just embarked on what turned out to be a complicated pregnancy, in more ways than one
. I went into premature labor at 15 weeks due to a grapefruit sized fibroid cyst. After a week in the hospital and several arguments with my OB, I was sidelined with a bed-rest order. Forced to stay home and collect disability, my tenuous co-worker connections were lost. With no family in town and no baby daddy in sight, Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia came into my little apartment and gave me the grandmotherly love I never had--with cheesecake on the side. "There, there" said they, and I was soothed in a way I can't fully explain.
I had first watched the show in the 80's with my two kid cousins. We, all giggly and singing along with the theme song, "Thank you for being a friend." When I found myself alone and pregnant all those years later with endless reruns playing on the Lifetime network, these golden girlfriends were just what the doctor ordered. I took my daily doses liberally--watching episodes one after another as I lay in bed growing in girth and anxiety for the big birthday. Each time, the strains of the theme song mixed with my memories of home played like an embrace. I was 18 again, my cousins, still girls.
Sophia was always my favorite. The sassy elder of the foursome, she was in many ways the most youthful. Thinking of names for my squirmy little passenger, Sophia became the obvious choice. I just knew my baby would come out singing the Golden Girls theme. It took her a while, but she learned it soon enough. Turns out she is every bit as sassy as her namesake. It was a good choice.
To the Golden Girls, the sexy ladies of the city, and to Jerry Seinfeld and his quirky crew--thank you for being a friend.
Words by The Bluestocking Babe
Image credits: Google