The One With My Own TV
It was back in the 9th grade when kids still used to play outside in the azalea-bush-turned-fort or shot hoops on their driveway ‘basketball court’. A simpler time when no one used the internet because waiting 45 minutes for the dial-up connection to actually connect to the world wide web was as painful as having your wisdom teeth pulled. It was around then my parents made the fatal mistake of putting a TV in my bedroom.
The One Where The Obsession Begins
Gone were the days of watching Wheel of Fortune in the communal living room before dinner. Now I could sit in my room after school until the last possible second and avoid any unnecessary conversation with the parental units (an ideal situation for a moody 13 year old).
It was there, alone in my new found solace, I discovered Friends. Old reruns constantly played and I’d avidly make my way through random episodes and dream of a day when it would be possible to watch them in seasonal order. Then it finally happened – the first 3 seasons came out on VHS (if you don’t know what this term means, then you are way too young to be reading my blog).
The One Where The Obsession Grows
One week and 72 episodes later, I did the first thing anyone in a downward addiction spiral would do – drag someone down the deep dark hole with me. I lured my best friend Betsy to a weekend sleepover and fast forwarded through to my favorite episodes (can’t say I miss those days). As she watched, I creepily stared at her profile in eager anticipation, analyzing every expression on her face and dying to know what she was thinking. I don’t think I took a breath until it was over and she looked at me and exclaimed, “like OMG, that was like sooooo like AWEsome”.
Little did we know that would start a 14 year battle in which our addictions would come to rule our lives (more specifically our Thursday nights #blameShondaRhimes). We now have numerous accounts on Netflix, AT&T U-verse, HuluPlus, Amazon Prime, HBO Go and many, many others. Seriously, I’m not even sure we would be friends if not for TV as 98% of our conversations are spent discussing fictional characters…
The One With The Pop-up Shop
So of course it makes sense that I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I found out the latest New York City pop-up shop happened to be a replica of Central Perk from Friends. The only thing that could possibly make me pee my pants more was if Betsy didn’t live in stupid Memphis so we could go together.
The One With Many Attempts
Sans Betsy, I decided to ask my friend Kristina to come along. Wanting the most authentic experience possible, we planned to sneak away at lunch like the ‘friends’ always did (seriously, were they ever at work?). This proved to be harder than a block of stale Parmesan cheese because unlike non-existent people, it’s not that easy to leave work smack dab in the middle of the day. Over the course of the month, all our email exchanges looked like this…
The One Where They Were So Close
Finally the stars aligned and we were able to sneak away for an hour lunch-break with another friend. Three 20-something girls – one going through a rough break-up, one in between jobs, and one semi-content girl trying to figure out what’s missing – all wanting to sit and gab about our menial lives. Yep, sounds like an authentic Friends moment to me.
We took the subway down to SoHo and as we got closer to Lafayette Street, we noticed a line. And around the block, there was another line, and another around that corner, and another and another and another. But we still joined the crowd naively thinking, “Oh it’ll go fast”.
Nope. Turns out you had to have a Central Perk pass just to wait in line…
The One With Blackmail and Another Line
With our Perk Passes in our hands, we thought, “What do we do now?”. I mean, this is a lifelong dream of mine. I can’t not go (might be a good time to mention this was the last day it was open). It was no problem for my friend Alicia since she was still on the job hunt but there was no way Kristina could make it with her workload. And me? I had some steely determination (and maybe a tad bit of balls) because I thought, ‘I’ll just blackmail my boss.’ After all, when the Superbowl came to town, he would disappear and join in the festivities down 5th Avenue. Why couldn’t I go play make believe at a pretend coffee shop (yes mom, I know I’m 27)?
And boom – I was able to take a last minute half-a-day vacation. Though, when Alicia and I met back up at 4:00, it still took an hour to get in.
The One Where They’re In
Around 5:30, we finally made it to Mecca. The long, agonizing pilgrimage was definitely worth it. I felt like a kid eating breakfast with Cinderella at the Magic Castle (Yes. I’m well aware I’m a huge nerd).
We entered the surprisingly non-crowded cafe and went straight to the counter to order what we assumed would be asininely priced coffees. Turns out it was completely free (refreshing to know not everyone is after the big bucks. I would have been perfectly happy to have been ripped off – thanks Eight O’Clock Coffee for being wonderful).
They even decorated it with real props from the show…
The One With A Few Of My Favorite Things
Set up against the ‘Fourth Wall’ was a mini museum with several props and paraphernalia indigenous to the show (if you don’t watch Friends, you won’t think they’re that cool and I must say I’m very impressed you’ve made it this far down the post).
The One Where They Hungout For Two Hours
Just like the characters, we never wanted to leave. So we stayed for a couple of hours checking out the waitstaff with their kick-ass uniforms…
And of course lounging on the infamous couch…
To fully round out our evening at Central Perk, a musical and very talented faux Phoebe acoustically played a range of songs from Lather Rinse Repeat, A Girl We’ll Call Her Betty, Little Black Curly Hair, and of course for an encore – Smelly Cat.
Have you ever completely geeked out because of a film or TV Show? Let me know in the comments below!
Why Suffer From FOMO When You Don’t Have To?
Taking on the classic “round-the-world” route, the next Travel Dispatch journey kicks off Nov 15 as I travel east to west, looping the globe over a period of 12 months with $25,000. Now’s your chance to get in on it from the very beginning!