Who saw How I Met Your Mother this week? It was a veritable BFF gold mine. First, there was the Lily-Robin storyline, about the very motherhood-and-friendship conundrum we discussed last week. Then there was a side plot about Ted and his best friend from high school, who comes to visit New York from his hometown of Cleveland.
The Ted-and-Punchy storyline struck me for two reasons:
1) Marshall’s claim that they weren’t friends because, he says, nobody stays friends with kids from high school.
2) Ted and Punchy each have a completely skewed view of the other one’s adult life.
Let’s take this point-by-point. I know many people don’t keep in touch with high school friends after graduation. It’s largely an issue of someone wanting to put her teenage days behind her, but even more so a byproduct of friends growing up and figuring out who they really are. Sometimes the adult versions of two high school pals just aren’t compatible.
I’m actually still incredibly close with my high school friends. Eight of my former classmates were at my wedding. My husband’s best friends are almost all from his high school days. His little gang still takes a boys’ trip together every year.
I don’t know what it is exactly—maybe the fact that we went through those awkward hormonal years together, maybe just having been friends for so long—but my high school friends understand me in a way not everyone does, even if I go months at a time without seeing them.
When I posted about my high school reunion earlier this summer, plenty of you commented that you would never go back. But for me? It was a highlight.
Which brings me to point two. When Punchy came to visit Manhattan, he drove Ted crazy. His hyped-up high-school self didn’t work in the big city. But as we later learned, Punchy thought it was Ted who was struggling. He was trying to cheer up his old buddy using the juvenile jokes that first made them friends.
It was interesting how each thought the other was having a rough time. Ted saw Punchy as being stuck at home and going nowhere, while Punchy saw Ted as being miles away from friends and family and the people he loves. From each perspective, the other was in a bad spot.
We do that with friends a lot. We project however we’d feel in their situation onto them, whereas they might see their life from an entirely different viewpoint.
This might be more likely to happen with a high school friend, because we think we know how her mind works when in fact so much could have changed between then and now.
Are you still friends with your high school gang? What do you think it is that works—or doesn’t—about teenage friendships once we’re all grown up?
And in case you missed it, enjoy a little taste of HIMYM’s “The Beaver Song,” Robin Sparkles’s totally innocent ode to friendship.