FRIENDS, 50 YEARS LATER

As I recall from the television series, there were six friends who lived across the hall from each other. They had many entertaining events in their young lives. When the stories became unbelievable, the series kind of faded out of view. They are still around in syndication, but have no new things to say. All that they were has been placed on dvds or whatever medium.

So, I am very curious about what happened to them as they matured and got older. I do remember something about some of them getting married, some having children and heading off into adulthood never to be seen, in original form, again. I have tried to imagine what their lives were like. I had no success.

It dawned on me that Friends really does still exist and I am privy to all of their lives from the time they left television till now. Each year, the six of them get together in Ashville, North Carolina in either July or August. One of the couples has a home on top of a mountain. There is plenty of room for all of them to sleep there and enjoy the sights and the wonderful weather. Their children are now in their forties, one in her fifties and they have many grandchildren.

Since the six of them have so much in common, there is no paucity of conversation, catching up on the year’s happenings and the current problems in the world. No moment ever goes silent and when 4:00pm rolls around the wine is brought out, along with delectable snacks. The conversations grow more animated with each passing hour. By the time 7:00 pm rolls around, it is almost time for dinner.

The hosts are marvelous cooks, both of them. The choices of food run from spaghetti and meatballs to a wonderful quiche. Desserts are to die for. Even the one who is gluten free has choices for his meals. There is no end to accommodations. As they grow older, there are discussions that revolve around the activities for the next day.

Since one of the group is almost totally deaf, another with a problem in an unmentionable area, another unable to walk any kind of distance because of back surgery, and the others with various other ailments, some activities are limited. In a whimsical moment, they think about looking for a silent movie to entertain them.

The next day comes with a sparkling light on all of the vegetation in front of the house. Everyone gets up to the sound of dishes clanging and a host of animals looking for their morning meals. The owners of the house have five cats, a one year old Heinz variety dog and an ancient parrot called Pamela Greenbird (who is actually a male).

Breakfast is filled with conversations about well they slept and a discussion about the activity of the day. This time it is a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway to a craft house. The house is run by the state parks department and is filled with very high end items from metal to wood to glass. Most of the things are priced higher than one might find in an upscale store in New York. Very few purchases are made, even though all six can afford to buy up the place.

Once again the troop drives back to the mountain top home. The ride up the mountain is done in either first or second gear. The Town and Country van screams at the weight of six people. Party time begins as soon as they enter the door. All six wind up on the deck overlooking a beautiful forest. They imbibe once again and solve most of the world’s problems in a few short hours.

The next day sees is a short trek into town to see the Thomas Wolfe house. The film and the tour of the rooming house owned by Wolfe’s mother is a sobering affair. It is a display of the early part of the 1900’s. Wolfe died when he was 38 in 1938, the year that two of the friends were born. An attempt is made to do a little walking in town. It does not pan out.

The final evening together is a review of all that has happened over the past two days. One of the couples, whose experiences with foster children, has been laudatory, tries to help a seventeen year old girl to extricate herself from her discombobulated family. They want to take her in, send her to school, and have her infirmities fixed. The believe that Children Services in their state will help them do that. The other two couples listen in amazement to the things that had to get done to get this young lady some help.

One of couples has a daughter living nearby. The invite her and her daughter to dinner. It does not work out. The other two couples are sad. The culmination of the get together is the memory of the mother of two of the people, like the two on Friends, whose impact on all six people was vast. They all smile when they talk of her and are reminded that her tombstone says, “Power without Control” is nothing.

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