I woke up this morning, racing against time and a 3-month-old puppy’s bladder. Phone in hand I scrolled through Twitter reading about my business while she did hers.

Then I saw the headline that made me gasp. Willie Garson passed away at the age of 57 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.

This wasn’t just the death of a very talented man. To me, this was the death of an icon in Sex & The City and was the best friend we all need in our lives.

Who else in your life can tell you “You’re Fabulous!” in one scene of your life and “She’s fashion roadkill!” in another?

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This isn’t going to be another article about the great quotes of Stanford, a role that couldn’t have been the same with any other actor. There are plenty of those already out there from people in different time zones who get up much earlier than I do.

To me, this is about those people we need in our lives and the shows that define us – and at times help us forge those friendships.

We all have a Stanford in our lives. Whether he’s a gay man or not, Stanford exits in people who own their awkwardness, sexiness, bluntness, and have absolutely no filter. They tell us when we are wrong. They also tell us they still love us when we are wrong. They might not be in every scene of our life, but we know when we need them they are there like Dorothy clicking her ruby slippers.

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Now I’m going to tell you something that might make some of you judge me. I’ve never watched Seinfeld. I’ve done enough YouTubing to see some of the greater moments, but it wasn’t a show I was into. From 1989 – 1998, I was in a rush of school, sports, working, college in a sorority house with one TV and the Alpha got to pick what we watched. Lord help the person who called the A De Pi house on Elm Street in Springfield, Missouri, on Beverly Hills 90210 night.

Back then you couldn’t just binge a show to catch up, and life went on if you hadn’t seen a show. I’ve had so many conversations where people have said things to me and laughed. My blank stare got a “Seinfeld? The soup episode?”. It’s now with a heavy head I tell people “Never watched it.” I am much more west coast than east coast, and maybe if it was set in LA I would have been more likely to watch.  However, I feel the disappointing looks when people realize I didn’t watch the show. It’s like I missed an era everyone was in on but me.

On top of that, many of my first years of TV were spent on the night shift as a 10 pm producer. There was no “Prime Time” in my life aside from the news. I only knew what the last 10 minutes of a show were – because I was in the booth waiting for news to start. I had an anchor who would on 24 nights say “Take audio out of my ear, I’m recording this and can’t see how it ends” as he shielded his eyes from every monitor in the studio.

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My shows were mostly from places like HBO or MTV where I could see them during odd hours or on weekends.

I get the judgment. I feel the same way about many of my favorite shows when I say quotes that get blank looks.

But the point is – these shows and the movies of our own eras makeup part of who we are as a person and bring a valuable connection to new people we meet. You can’t just go up to someone and say “Will you be my friend?”. Oh no, it comes with moments like these and other relationship-building adventures.  

I can’t be in a newsroom and hear the words “Clearance”, “Roger”, or “Vector” without going into an Airplane! monologue. If you can Airplane! banter with me, we’re going to automatically be closer.

I’ve walked into control rooms more times than someone called him Shirley to say this line below. I would do it several times throughout the show, as the years went on the laughs got fewer and fewer, and I got to share the love of the line and the movie with a new generation (whether they wanted to hear it or not).

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When someone says “Hi, how are you” my mind immediately goes to the legend Leslie Nielsen in Scary Movie 3. I once broke into a burst of laughter so hard I had to excuse myself from an editorial meeting to compose myself. Slapstick is the key to my heart and funny bone.

Sex & The City was one of those shows that made it okay to talk about some of the things that women go through in the course of dating.

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Every woman decided if she was a Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, or Charlotte. Some of us are the best or worst parts of all of them. The break-up, the bonds, the “oh other women do that too?” made it okay to be who we were, flaws and all. A line from Carrie in this movie ended up being my dating anthem in life. When I meet someone who can SATC banter with me, it’s an immediate connection. A good connection when in a life of journalism you move around a lot and are hungry for new friends.

One of my besties can go Golden Girl quote for Golden Girl quote with me. I think it’s one of the best shows of all time. It was great when I was younger because it was so funny, and now when I watch re-runs I’m amazed at the jokes I didn’t get and how risqué it was for its time. I watch in hopes there is one rogue episode somewhere I haven’t seen. Even this year for my birthday, my friend sent me Golden Girls figurines.

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Every single time someone says to me “Can I ask a dumb question”, I have to hold back a “Better than anyone I know!”, because it was such a great line in GG. I still can’t get over that Dorothy got Mario Lopez deported.

I have a life of to-do lists and post-it notes, so “You broke up with me on a Post-It note?” resonates every time I write out a number or name on one. At one point, the company I worked for re-organized their Regional News Directors, and I was assigned a new one. I got the message in a company-wide email. Without thinking, I emailed my current RND and said, “YOU BROKE UP WITH ME ON A POST IT NOTE?”. Then quickly realized the joke would fall flat on a man 10-15 years my senior. I have no regrets. Stanford and Carrie would have been proud of me.

Of course, my second thought is “I invented post-its” and then “I decided to make them yellow!” (Can you name that movie?) This was a movie one of my friends “made” me watch as we were building a friendship, and it made her laugh so hard. I loved seeing what made this new friend smile.

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It’s a game played in many newsrooms across the country as new journalists, veteran journalists, and everyone in between play the “have you seen this movie or tv show” game.

In my last newsroom, the number of people who hadn’t seen Top Gun, Broadcast News, The Morning Show, Jerry Maguire, or even Titanic was shocking. Painful when they said “Is that a classic movie? I think I’ve heard of it!”

On Thanksgiving, the number of people who understand “God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly” is getting smaller, and showing them the clip doesn’t usually make them find it nearly as funny as us “old people” do.

I dressed up as Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood for one Halloween and I think only one person understood who I was. I had no chance of winning the costume contest. EVERYONE got HER costume though. I guess I was in the wrong genre.

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Lines from these shows become the secret jokes that turn colleagues into friends and friends into best friends. It’s a connection line of culture and commonality.

I had someone ask me yesterday “What shows do you watch”? Like most women, I love true crime. I’ve heard men joke that their wives are secretly planning to kill them because they watch so much true crime. But I also have a fondness for The Hills after a younger Jennifer watching Laguna Beach (even then I was too old to watch it, but I just LOVED it). The love of Real Housewives of LA turned me into a Vanderpump Rules fan, watching people live lives I dreamed of once upon a time. Then I got into the Million Dollar Listing LA series. I watched MDLNY, but mostly for Luiz Ortiz first and then Steve Gold because they are just dreamy.

These shows spawn memes that help us communicate. Sometimes we get them, sometimes we don’t. This one always made me laugh as a Real Housewives fan, but as Carrie from SATC would say “I couldn’t help but wonder how many people didn’t get this.”

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I had a corporate team member who once used a reference to Moneyball in an email, and I was proud to be able to respond in kind with another line from the movie. It’s just a good connection with you find that common ground between two people at different stages in life.

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I can tell you my dad always watched MASH, and I was always in the room, but I can’t say “I watched MASH”. It just didn’t resonate as I wasn’t born when it started, and I was just 9 when it ended. But I remember it being a powerful point in my busy father’s day and I loved that HE loved it. I had a corporate team member who loved the movie Silver Streak. I’ve seen the movie when I was very, very young and my best memory is the train crashing at the end (Sorry, spoiler alert). So I made sure to re-watch it so I could keep up with something that was important to someone who was important to me.

Then there are the great inside jokes we get with our friends. I have a friend who will randomly text me “Grape Soda” and it makes that day better. I can promise you don’t want to know the origins of this, but I won’t share it anyway. It’s an “inside” joke.

Another friend we can just say “Fromtulsa” and the memories flood the brain forcing out a laugh.

Yet another friend and I have a decade-long debate over mylar balloons and if they are a great gift or cheap way to show emotion. Recently I saw she was buying a new home, and I said “Can I get your address? I promise I won’t send a mylar balloon.”

Back in the heyday of the FOX5 newsroom in Las Vegas, we watched a very funny clip of a very terrible TV error. (Warning: F-bomb)

So, it became “our thing”. If the newsroom was too quiet, someone would yell “WHAT THE F#%K ARE YOU DOING?” to break the silence, and then we’d have to watch the clip again.

I have an anchor I can just say “Pope Show” to, and we start laughing. This stems from when the Pope died in 2005. We decided to do a special show that had the working title of “Pope Show”. We had the somber feel of losing a religious icon, and this Lutheran girl did a crash course of Catholicism to make sure I wasn’t mixing in Martin Luther with Hail Mary. As the open rolled and we tossed to a custom live shot, the reporter called my anchor “Rome” when his name was “John”. For some reason, this made one person crack a smile, another started laughing, add me into the IFB saying “Did she just call you Rome?” and we couldn’t stop laughing. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE POPE SHOW. We had 1:35 to get our heads right because that’s how long the package was. I said a bunch of horrible things in their ears trying to get the tone back and we did pull it together. Bonus that it looked like one of them had been emotional verklempt with watery eyes when we returned on screen. I don’t even know if that story sounds funny to you, but I’m laughing as I write it.

I worked on a morning show for a month as News Director helping get a new strategic plan in place. If you couldn’t speak Mean Girls you would not have understood a word we were saying 75% of the time. Sorry to the new employees we told they “Can’t sit with us!” and they wondered where they should actually sit.  

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So today, in honor of Stanford Blatch and in memory of Willie Garson, text your friend that word or phrase that will make them laugh. Keep Stanford’s spirit alive while remembering Willie, a Best Friend gone too soon.

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