Sunday, April 5, 2009

Reality Television

I have an old friend who is pretty sure that every Seinfeld episode relates to real life. I haven't watched Seinfeld in a while, but he might be right. Here's the thing, as much as I hate to compare real life to a television show ... I am pretty sure all the early episodes of Friends are pretty related to real life.

Even in this age of the highest unemployment since 1982, I don't have that mane friends who are unemployed. That's great for them, but it's a little tough on me from time to time. Sure, I have friends who look out for me. And I am not too proud to accept a couple of drinks or a mid-priced dinner or cab fare. But sometimes I feel like people have no concept of what it is to be really and truly worried about money. I was poor a lot of my childhood and I know how to work through it and live through it and I know how to do it all while appearing like you are just like everyone else. It's pretty much how I got through the '80s.

But today, in trying to organize Sunday brunch, I felt like this episode of Friends. It's an episode from the second season - when I was still in college and the lives of the six Friends seemed so adult and exotic - where three of them have money and good jobs and the other three are stressed out. It all culminates at a dinner to celebrate Monica's new job when they are out at an expensive restaurant and the three poor Friends order a side salad, and a couple of appetizers amongst them while the three well-employed Friends order steaks and lobsters and wine and when the bill arrives, Ross and Chandler divide it by five (it's Monica's dinner so she doesn't have to pay is the idea). And the poor Friends freak out. Because they ordered shit meals that were the only things they could afford on the menu, not realizing they would be expected to subsidize fillet Mignon and lobsters.

We've all been there, right? Out for a birthday dinner with more affluent friends. And, of course, you want to chip in. And, of course, everyone thinks that whatever money they have is not much money. No matter how much they make. But there is a reality to these things, beyond one's own perception. And dropping $20 on brunch seems like a lot of money for an unemployed gal right now ...

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