That Time I Met "Janice" From Friends
Updated: May 18, 2021
So during a rather jaunty summer of 2006, I spent a lot of time in the Hamptons. I was working for a family musical band named Laughing Pizza. They had just signed a record deal with Sony/Epic and they were making the summer circuit in the Hamptons. Why? I honestly couldn’t tell you. But lucky for me, I got to tag along. At one point we decided to head in to Sag Harbor for the day. It is one of the cutest most low key towns in the Hamptons and the Mom in the band “Lisa Pizza” (Here I must pause and say Rest in Peace my friend) tells me that one of her oldest childhood pals Maggie is coming with her family to meet up with us. "Okay great!”, I say as I’m always up for meeting interesting new people. We are standing in front of the cafe waiting and Lisa goes “Oh there they are!” And I turn around and sure enough, there she was! Maggie Wheeler aka “Janice from Friends”!! Now all of you hard core “Friends” fans know the drawn out three little words I said in my head. But on the outside, you guessed it, I kept my cool. It’s amazing, the quirky little details you remember when all of the excitable fan girl energy is flowing through your being. So I’m standing on the sidewalk watching these two friends hug and catch up and we’re exchanging introductions and pleasantries. In the middle of all this I inexplicably have a bit of a coughing fit. And much to my surprise, Maggie reaches over, puts her hand on me to soothe me (like a Mom) and said “Oh, are you okay?” And I thought to myself, Holy Shit, I love my life!
I also allowed my mind to drift for a second and bring me back to my early days in Atlanta when I was making new friends at a breakneck speed that I have found only really happens in your younger days when you’re out and about and everybody has endless amounts of time on their hands. Well, these new Atlanta friends invited me over to watch this new TV show, appropriately called….”Friends”. Initially, I hated it. Cynical me I’m sure. But they kept inviting me over and I kept going because Why wouldn’t I? Atlanta was jumping 24/7 back then and I was, as the kids say, there for it and I pretty quickly grew to love the show. The demographic was spot on. The characters were all my age and never has a TV show spoken so directly to me before or since. And of course then, now and forever forward I will equate the show “Friends” with those early days in Atlanta. I was coming in to my own, coming out to the world and making lifelong friends of my own, a whole list of people who mean so much to me. I had finally found my tribe. The ones who have been there through thick and thin, hell and high water, ups and downs and any other friend-centric cliche you’d like to throw in there. And I felt so grateful that Atlanta came along and that TV show came along and those Friends came along and Maggie came with it…
I came out of my reverie standing on that sidewalk in the Hamptons thinking to myself, Wow, how did I get here, although who really cares because I am inches away from “Janice from Friends” with all these amazing thoughts of gratitude going through my head. Much to my credit and thanks to years of experience, instead of blurting out “Where’s Chandler Bing?!” like a jackass, I calmly looked at her and said “I’m good, thanks.”