On Grace and Frankie and Friendship



TV STILL — DO NOT PURGE — Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the Netflix Original Series “Grace and Frankie”. Photo by Melissa Moseley for Netflix.§

On Grace and Frankie and Friendship 

I spent this week in a mist of season two of Grace and Frankie. It continues to be one of the best shows ever. How refreshing to see two women find a commonality that overrides differences in spirituality, politics and clothing styles (though I would give anything to have Frankie’s wardrobe).

The season is a celebration of sexuality at any age, complete with yam jam and ergonomic vibrators, and the sad, and wondrous, reality of helping a beloved friend leave this world on her own terms.

It is a salute to friendship in its highest form – two very distinct souls discovering an appreciation for the other, complete with humor, and, more importantly, with honesty. Honesty about who each of them is, acceptance of their differences, with just the right touch of sarcasm and knowledge that, for each, “her” way is actually best.

It is about caring enough to tell the truth. In one scene, Frankie says, “I call bullshit.” What a great friendship — one that risks anger, misunderstanding. A friendship where “calling bullshit” is done with compassion, not censure or condemnation. In a world where, for many of us, friendship is defined as always being there, always being supportive, how refreshing it is to see support, real sustenance, to be able to disagree with your friend, not always to feel you have to say “yes, you’re right, the rest of the world is wrong.”

And it took me back to my Chicago years, where in the midst of a soul-wrenching work situation, I sat by a coworker’s desk to bemoan the horrors and dreadfulness of my new boss. After weeks of this, and I was becoming tiresome even to myself, he looked at me and said, “Cynthia, you’re acting like a real asshole.”

I was shocked; I was hurt; I was angry. Mainly I was hurt. How could he pour mercurochrome on the wound in my heart. I returned to my office, to stew, to lick my even-more-abraised wounds. How could he? How could my friend say this to me? And I thought. And then I thought some more. What if he were right? Could it actually be that I was wrong? And, for the first time, I tried to see the situation from my boss’s point of view.

And I got it. I saw how I appeared to him, and I was embarrassed for myself. I changed my behavior, and to my boss’s credit, he accepted my apology without words. We went on to become best work buddies. The situation turned around on a dime. All because a friend told me the truth, as painful as that was to hear. He told me what he honestly thought I needed to hear. He also taught me what it meant to be a friend. And I have tried to pass that on.

So, Leon Ward, wherever you are, thanks. I’ll never forget you.

Another Sunday, http://www.cynthiastrauff.com