Mums the Word

Life is going to be this way, Chandler Bing

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Life went bad there for a bit, and had to be placed on blocks in the garage. The gas tank was always full but the oil was too thick; my brakes got sticky and the ignition turned only against its will. With elbow grease, a sharp eye and plenty of protein I’ve been putting it all back together.

The road back is daunting but finite - so long as my will can bear it. It takes good, clean fuel to be a distance-running philosopher/warrior, so I cook, and I cook well.

There is a ruthless efficiency to tonight’s dinner: one chicken breast and a neat pile of steamed broccoli uncorrupted by cream, butter, cheese or seasoning of any kind. I’m not going to doll this sustenance up like a prostitute just to appease the hedonism of my taste buds. If I took their marching orders my plate would be a circus of empty carbohydrates and high-fructose escapism, they would have me lying on the ground like a fat dog, addicted to sugar and white flour, disinterested in life or love, waiting only for the fleeting respite of my next meal. In order to progress, the weakest parts of myself must be heavily mitigated for the war effort.

It’s a good spread, both healthy and ethical. Free-range poultry, certified Organic vegetables and a large glass of filtered water mixed with Mexican Chia seeds. On the side I’ve got my horse pills: St. John’s Wort, fish oil, milk thistle and a multi-vitamin. I’m recharging after a brutal home workout. Four max-rep sets of pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups and air squats followed by a fore-foot jog across the Triborough Bridge. On the Randall’s Island side of the water there’s a nice staircase perfect for metabolic training and stair sprints.

This marks the end of another good day. Anyone can have one good day; I’m celebrating because I’ve managed to string a few of them together. I spear a flower of broccoli with my fork and chew pensively. Friends is coming on. I never miss an episode, shoehorning time into my schedule for every single airing with the sense of urgency of a diabetic managing his insulin levels. It’s not that I like the show per se. I don’t. I don’t even like most of the the characters. I could give a cold, loveless fuck for anyone but Chandler and Monica. Ross is a risk-averse dullard with a terrific sense of entitlement and no ability to follow through for anyone but himself. Joey is a womanizing narcissist, and Phoebe desperately needs therapy for her chopped salad of psychological issues.

Worst of all is Rachel the flat-stomached and voluptuous human void. She’s a ghoul, the walking dead, a vampire, California good looks plastered over the dead tissue beneath her skin mask, a Decepticon that transforms into a bitch. Her spectacular debut into the cultural Zeitgeist was volcanic. Men lusted over her and women championed her hairstyle as the paragon of the Nineties. The rich girl slumming it in her $4000 New York apartment, condescending to struggle but always walking the tight rope falsely, gainfully aware of the safety netting below. I can’t respect a gambler placing bets with borrowed money.

So I don’t watch to keep tabs on Ross and Rachel. They should both die alone, empty husks who never learned how to see past their own reflection. I don’t watch to see Phoebe spiral further and further from mental health, and I don’t watch to see who Joey gives his HPV to next. I don’t care about Rachel’s fashion career, or why they bought a chicken and a duck, and I don’t want to know about Gunther, Central Perk or Ugly Naked Guy across the street, either. I watch for Chandler Bing and Monica Geller, the only characters on the show with the capacity to feel.

Monica is a good egg, the fat girl from high school who got it together. She learned how to mix vegetables into her diet from time to time and get 20 minutes of exercise a day - a completely logical and 100% effective approach to losing weight. She now runs upon the food and beverage treadmill, a life of endless toil in the service of Americans who can’t stop eating. Then there is Chandler, my hero. My heart beats double time for this man. Known to the group and the fans as “the funny one,” that’s not who I see. I see a terribly sad soul, lost in the wind and rain, standing desperately against the storm, parrying blows artfully with sarcasm and cynicism, keeping his feet despite his compounded shortcomings. Chandler is miscast professionally as a statistical analyst. This man was born with the soul of a writer, asphyxiated and left for dead long ago by vacant parents and compromised love. These “Friends” can’t help him; wouldn’t know where to start if they tried. No, they lean on him, taking advantage of his empathy and his generosity, turning to him at every turn for comic relief when he needs help the most. Then there is his obvious struggle with addiction. He battles tobacco, falling in and out of love with Janice, he pads around his apartment enrobed and slipper-shod, and his weight fluctuates dramatically. In season three he ballooned up maybe 30 pounds, binge eating while the girls across the hall bake him cookies and let him slip away.

This show isn’t about friendship; it’s a parody of what friendship has become. Co-dependant escapists indulging in the shallowest of their desires, ignoring the derelict engines in their own hearts as they stray from broken relationship to broken relationship. Not me, brother. I ain’t going out like that. I’m going to do my calisthenics, hard boil my eggs and hike onwards against all manner of resistance. Broke, indebted, overweight, undernourished and lonely, the river runs dry but its bed is gilded with faith, compounding daily, enough to carry me to whatever end so long as I’m willing to take each step under my own power, sun setting at my back.


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