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If you were picked up out there in the social networking real life with an eyebrow raise, a head nod, and a “How you doin’?”, you’d know your potential boyfriend figure had spent an episode or two with Friends’ favorite Joey Tribiani. Some days, Joey makes the show what it is with his ignorant humor. Across the nine dvd seasons I’ve watched so far, I think every character has had a chance at Joey’s signature line, and it’s always a guaranteed laugh track. Oddly, it also carries the assumption of success. Joey is cast as the most dateable guy on the show, having been with most women in New York at least once, and usually only once. His signature line is his trump card. And someone said “How you doin’?” in my dream.

I watch a lot of Friends. In some ways, it’s a sad coping mechanism that I’ve adopted in the past two months, since I’ve owned all ten sitcom seasons. I can marry my life events to scenes from Friends, scenes that surprisingly tell a lot of truth about the way things are. So it may just be that these voices are ringing in my head, repeating themselves from the influx of episodes many breakfasts in a row. But why not Ross or Rachel? They’re my favorite couple. Why not one of Chandler’s one-liners? He makes me laugh the hardest. Nope, it was in the second scene of my dream. A very clear “How you doin’?”, and Joey Tribiani was nowhere to be seen behind the movie-screen backs of my eyelids.

The first scene was something illegal, but you know how dreams are fuzzy at the edges. There was a huge van, like the Big Brown Bus my friend Gina used to own. You could’ve practically lived in the thing. Really big. But in my dream, there was only me in the too-big van. I parked it and was soon being chased around this equally huge house. It was filled with young men that I felt scared of, but I couldn’t see any of their faces. None of them except one man who offered his hand to help me. He pulled me up from under the stairs where I crouched, hid me behind some packing boxes while the rest of the men ran around yelling and swinging bats, and didn’t say a word until we were safe for a moment in the backyard. I was leaning against the fence, trying to decide whether it was safe to trust him or if I was better on my own and he said to me, “How you doin’?” It was decidedly Joey’s signature phrase, but somehow more gentle, genuine. I wanted to recognize him from my real life, but he was no one I knew.

Just like every girl on the streets of New York City, I fell for him in this dumpy backyard and he used rolled up t-shirts to erase the memory from all the chasing men with baseball bats. When he touched the shirt to each of their foreheads, they went back to business in their big house and forgot all about me as the bad guy. Two very confusing scenes later, I ended up in a jail that was more like a liberal rehab house, sitting next to the boy with Joey Tribiani lines, holding hands.

Maybe I do watch too much Friends.  Or maybe every guy scrambling for a pick up line should be thankful for Joey.

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