We all base our relationships off certain ideals. When they grew up, a lot of people had their parents to look up to or their grandparents to show them what love could be like and that romance didn’t have to be only for fairytales. However, those people didn’t have my parents, who spent more time reenacting The War of the Roses than giving each other roses. The only significant thing I ever learned from my parents’ relationship is that love is terrible and you should never do it. You should run away from it as fast as possible, and if you have an invisible plane or rocket powered shoes, even better. My grandparents are amazing and kind people, but the ship has kind of sailed on that whole “being into each other” or “acknowledging each other’s presence directly” thing. Their definition of “bonding time” is trying to get through an episode of NCIS before my grandfather passes out.
As the situation amongst the rest of my family members is even worse (my aunt tried to have my uncle thrown in jail after their divorce, just for fun), I didn’t have a lot of stable relationships to look up to in my own life. And like almost every kid who grew up in the 90s, I turned to the television instead to teach me about things and relied on various programs to relay information about the outside world. Rugrats showed me that raising children would be incredibly difficult, because they were always breaking out of their playpens and creating secret underground worlds for themselves, like some Scorsese movie. Friends taught me that being an adult was awesome; when you got older, all you did was drink coffee and have giant New York apartments you could magically afford. (Half of this turned out to be true.) And TRL showed me that you could stay young forever, no matter how old you got. Even in my late 20s and 30s, I could be making songs for 13-year-olds. Fred Durst and Korn were living the dream.
But to me, Gilmore Girls was the ideal, the quirky alterna-universe life I’d always wanted. I saw it for the first time at my aunt’s house during a party (yes, same aunt), and I didn’t know who these people were or why they talked so fast, but I knew I wanted to be exactly like them. I wanted to have multi-syllabic opinions on Proust and Milan Kundera or shove my pockets full of Sour Patch kids and see whatever mildly obscure 80s film was playing at midnight at the local Cineplex (perhaps a double feature of Fatso and For Keeps?). And it might sound creepy, but for a kid who watched way too many Julia Roberts movies for their own good, I wanted a relationship like that. Sure, Rory had Dean, Marty and Logan throughout the years, and I’ll always wonder about the life with Jess that could have been, but no one could be better than Lorelai Gilmore, a friendship no guy could ever touch. And Luke and Lorelai were meant for each other, but did he get her like Rory did? Does he know what “copper boom” or “oy, with the poodles already” meant? I think not. Only Rory could speak her secret language or understand her in that best friend way.
Don’t worry. This isn’t the part where this turns into fan fiction, as I find the Family Guy spoof of the show (where Rory and Lorelai make out) creepy beyond all reason. This column is about friendship, not incest. What I always admired about the show and envied about the central relationship was the verbal chemistry between the two leads, that His Girl Friday banter that indicated how close Rory and Lorelai were with one another. A lot of people who watch the show complain that the dialogue is unrealistic (um, DUH), but it’s not about realism. The lightning-paced chatter is a symbol. The show is about your corner of the world, the worlds we create for ourselves and the people who fit into those worlds — the ones you can rely on at the end of the day. And who better to be in your corner than someone to eat a ludicrous amount of junk food and quote The Trial of Billy Jack with? That’s what a relationship is to me: that best friend you can just be yourself around, who can share in your love of awful movies. (Or someone who at least loves how much you love them.)
The entire show is a love letter to friendship and its transformative powers, especially in relationships. The examples of Sookie and Jackson, Lane and Zach and Paris and Doyle (as adorably ridiculous as their relationship is) show just how important it is to be friends with your significant other and understand those little things about them that are beyond rational explanation. In the episode that Sookie thinks she “cheated” on Jackson (spoiler: she didn’t), she cooks him his favorite meal and plays him Creedence Clearwater Revival; he immediately knows something is up. Sookie hates CCR, and when Jackson realizes this, he screams, “You cheated on me!” Although they spend a lot of their relationship bickering about things that seem silly later, they do so in that way you do with your best friends, the people whose buttons you know how to push. You only do it because you love them.
Similarly, Paris and Doyle as a couple don’t add up on paper, but the foundation of their relationship is the weird bond that they have with each other, one that’s beyond explanation. Paris just makes more sense when she’s with Doyle. She’s a better and kinder person to be around, and Doyle’s friendship helps her to mellow, as much as Paris Geller can mellow. Sex is a big part of their relationship (uncomfortably so, sometimes), but it’s about more than intercourse. It’s that he’s the only person who can make her feel that way. Only your best friends can make you feel that good.
I know that Sex and the City argued that we need to keep our best friends separate from our love lives (except for the purposes of gossip), and to a certain extent, that’s true. We should have friends, counselors and advisors outside of our relationship who give us what our partner can’t. One person won’t be the world to you, and so you should have lots of best friends, great friends and soulmates. My dildo is equally as important a lifemate to me as my partner. (Until the penis learns how to naturally vibrate without the help of an earthquake, it’ll stay that way.) But what’s the point of having someone to spend the rest of your life with if they don’t get you and those weird parts of yourself or isn’t willing to take a lifetime to learn? If I have to even think about spending eternity with someone, they need to be willing to have a Cop Rock marathon or figure out what ever happened to Xuxa. What’s love without Telemundo?
Love is a million things to different people. Love is what wakes up next to you in the morning every day, even though you have bad breath and look disgusting. Love is what drags you out of bed when you don’t want to get up. Love is what’s waiting up for you at night when you come home late, with a bowl of popcorn and a movie. But more than that, love is letting your hair down and hanging out in your sweatpants with the person who gets you most. That’s the corner of the world I want to be in.