Guest contributor Cheryl Farrell writes about her circle of friends as inspired by a favorite TV show – Cheers. There’s a Sam, Diane, Carla, and Norm in the bunch.
Our hope is that our stories and posts are timeless, however the week this posted, world events took a heartbreaking turn in the Ukraine.
Please see this added note from Cheryl, “I wrote this story before recent events unfolded on the world stage. The whimsy seems a bit off topic. However, if you can draw from it the value of friendships as we cope with tough times, then the effort will not be in vain.”
I am a fan of vintage television. It began when I was a young adult making “friends” with TV characters. Thanks to well-crafted scripts, storylines often parallel my life events. Case in point is the award-winning 1980’s sitcom Cheers from Charles/Burrows Productions.
I find comfort in the affable barfly Norm Peterson, played by George Wendt. His ample girth belied his effortless descent into the famous Boston bar when patrons would shout, “Norm!” He was a walking exclamation point, a salute before drinking.
Cheers archetypes show up as my friends in real life. (I won’t name any names.) My personal version of Norm is actually a woman. She’s a gentle soul to whom I bestow full grace, no matter what her ambition is (or is not) in life. She can do no wrong by me. I admire her singular focus to be at peace with herself.
“Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name…
Another favorite Cheers friend is the intellectual Diane Chambers, portrayed by Shelley Long. The character’s plaintive voice begs the question, “Do you want some whine with that cheese?” She was liked by most everyone, except the irascible Carla Tortelli, played by Rhea Perlman. The perpetual tension between Diane and Carla kept the brew flowing at Cheers.
My friend-version of Diane Chambers is hopeful for all outcomes. She floats through the world a tad north of naïve. She frustrates me because I constantly remind her that the world is not perfect. Ragged edges and things in limbo help people grow and advance.
“Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you’ve got…
My real life Carla Tortelli is my alter ego. She’s the inner grouch who is compelled to lash out at my version of Diane Chambers. The Carla in me has been through a lot and will not put up with nonsense. Maybe it’s her diminutive stature making her bark to be heard. In any case, she isn’t going out quietly.
“And they’re always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same…
To round out my favorite Cheers friends is Sam Malone, a womanizer acted by Ted Danson. Although his love interests came and went during the eleven seasons of the show, his presence made the hangout complete.
Sam Malone’s character in my life is the composite of the smooth-talking, fast-car-driving, chick magnets that I dated in my younger years. I was drawn to the Sam persona for excitement and sense of identity. Like the Diane character, I outgrew the dependence on others to give me purpose.
“You want to be where everybody knows your name.”
-Cheers Theme (Original Demo) lyrics © Addax Music Co. Inc. Songwriters: Portnoy Gary / Angelo Judy Hart
There are parts of Cheers in all of us. A friend is a mirror to our soul. Let’s reflect on that and share the good.
Cheryl Farrell is a corporate communications consultant and performance storyteller in Southern California. She has decades of experience in healthcare, education, and financial services. Cheryl was an original cast member of the Jeopardy! Clue Crew and toured the world appearing in more than 1,000 video clips. As a public speaker, she often examines how older black women excel at the intersections of race, gender, and age. Cheryl has a master’s degree in Communication Management from USC and a bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA. She is married and has two adult children.
Photo credit - NiketaCH Photography
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