Issue 6 - Wednesday Waffling on a Saturday?!

The one where we talk about hit TV show Friends

In this week’s newsletter:

🧇 Wednesday Waffling on a Saturday… in Person
We never hang out, but keep in touch. This week we did both.

🎞️ The one where 50 million people said goodbye
The final Friends episode aired 20 years ago this week - so learn how the hit show affected me.

🧠 A Friendly Tip
If they’re ghosting the group chat, get onto them.

🧇 The Saturday Waffle

The Wednesday Waffle concept is a couple of months old, in terms of its life on the internet, but for me and three friends it’s been a two plus year weekly ritual.

The origin story began in the midst of a recent global pandemic – Google “Covid 19” if you haven’t heard about it (for my martian and infant subscribers) - when four friends, who were living in the world’s most locked down place in the World, Victoria, Australia, needed to find some creative ways to stay in touch. What we landed on was an “Albums Club” - think bookclub for music. So it was settled. We started up immediately.

The format was, every Friday one of us would recommend a record (to stream), we’d listen to it all week, and then catch up on zoom Thursday evening to discuss. It was successful at keeping us in contact and we’d regularly text throughout the week (usually about a song or a lyric we liked) as well. We kept this up for about six months, until the world began to open up again. As a consequence, we returned to life outdoors and the online catch-up component waned.

It had turned into homework, particularly when the record didn’t resonate

A man who never did homework, soon.

Still, we felt we were onto something with this club, so changed tack and decided to review the music in video form. This was a fun evolution, and we all enjoyed sending and receiving these videos on a Wednesday. It stayed this way for many more months, but as time wore on there’d be occasions where one or more of us would not meet the midweek review deadline. It had turned into homework, particularly when the record didn’t resonate. After a break for Christmas, 2021, the Albums Club was officially killed, dead.

Though submitting weekly musical dissections had become a struggle, we’d loved the connection these weekly video messages cultivated, along with the humour and insight they offered. So, one week, out of the blue, someone (we can’t recall who) decided to send a video with a little life update instead. That was when The Wednesday Waffle, as we now know it, was born.

So no one told you life was… you know the rest

Those three men and I still live in different parts of the state, so only see each other sporadically, and rarely find ourselves in the same place at once. I’ve taken pleasure in relaying to them the incredible stories and positive commentary from The Wednesday Waffle community, and they share my pride in creating this life changing concept. As it had been too long between drinks, we decided it was time to come together in person. That happened on Saturday and it was a joyous occasion.

We worked out it had been over six months since we clinked glasses, but thanks to weekly waffles we’d all very much kept in touch. This meant we could jump straight into the finer detail of each other’s lives, and not have to repeat the same conversation three times. We were already up to date! It was an added Wednesday Waffle benefit I’d not taken notice of before.

Anyway, I’ve spoken about these fellas enough, so figured I should introduce you to them - Sim, Matt (Thorno), and Jack.

A Saturday waffle well spent

Simon: A reformed skate rat that coined The Wednesday Waffle name (we think). Famous for incorporating his daughter’s cameos into his wholesome waffles. Ran a marathon in 2:38hrs last week and is founder of the Erniold fitness label.

Matt: A retired rock star that pioneered the “G’day Fellas” we all mimick (in his crooner-esque voice) to start our weekly waffles. Juggles work with studying a masters and supporting ill-fated football clubs. He is committed to being the last man left using a handkerchief.

Jack: A bit of a runner, a bit of a rocker, and a lot of a loveable legend. Likes to waffle through his morning coffee run, or a latenight dog walk. He drinks Bloody Marys out of politeness and his disgust for fraud has led to him becoming the Batman of the banking sector.


🎞️ Why The Show Friends Hit Different

Twenty years ago this week, the final epside of Friends aired to 50,000,000 viewers. The iconic series has, of course, aired about 5,000,000 times since, and still gets a run in my household whenever it pops up. So I got to thinking, what makes this show hold such a special place in people’s hearts?

I was going to invest my week in critically re-watching all 236 episodes, examining layer upon layer, to come to some kind of intellectual conclusion, but there’s no need because The New Yorker did that already. So I PIVOT… PIVOT… PIVATTE… PIVAART… PIVAATted and instead looked back on my relationship to the program and why it’s so beloved to me.

Me peeping the New Yorker article

The first time I became aware of Friends was when a commercial aired on Australian TV. My recollection was of being about fifteen years old, but on researching learned it was in 1996, two years after the show first played on American screens, when I was merely a boy of twelve years old. That detail makes sense, as the thirty second spot blew my child mind. What is this? Who are these people? What is that font! (just joking, that last one is a question I asked for a reason that will become apparent later).

My initial response to the ad was that the picture seemed sharper than I was used to on Blue Heelers. The sound was crisper than I was accustomed to from Round the Twist. The actors were star-like and more beautiful than those on Heartbreak High. There was an energy and freshness in the thirty second spot I’d never before felt, in life or on the idiot box. It ended with a “coming soon” super and I was hooked. I had to watch this show. A few long weeks later, I did. And it delivered.

Friends became a Monday night staple, initially airing at 7:30pm in prime time and eventually moving around a little, to no doubt drag an audience into some of the host broadcasters other investments. But it didn’t matter where they placed it. It was appointment viewing – as things were back then. If you didn’t see it when it was on, you didn’t know when you’d next get the chance.

Here’s why I wondered what font the title was

I watched religiously, with what felt like the rest of Australia, right up until one particular season that clashed with my extracurricular guitar lessons. It must’ve been 1998 or 1999, in my metal era. This signalled the end of my musical ambitions, as deep down I knew a budding rock God shouldn’t be sitting in class wondering what the Geller siblings were doing, while their teacher talked about a G major scale. Then again, were Friends around in the time of Hendrix, maybe he’d have frittered away his gifts too.

That was until the storyline romantically pitted Joey and Rachel together

Me, am I the only one that hated this?

It continued this way, almost without exception, and in a world yet to devolve into strictly screening mindless reality television, this series felt a bit like fly on the wall access to real people living a mundanely captivating life. That was until the storyline romantically pitted Joey and Rachel together. Even though their short-lived romance was nicely unwound a few episodes later, I never again felt the same, and the understanding this show was, in fact, scripted entertainment stayed with me. Still, I enjoyed the ride, just in a different way.

So what exactly was it about these twenty-something, middle-class, New Yorkers that captured the heart and mind of a boy in country Victoria? They went to work. I went to school. They were dating. I was afraid of girls. They drank coffee. I’d quit some years earlier.

(SIDE NOTE: I have had two cups of coffee in my life, one when I was eight years old from a coffee machine, and one last year aged 39 from McDonalds. Both left me in little doubt I’d not be having another for a long time).

But despite some major differences, many things made us the same.

I’d grow “The Rachel” now if I could

The cast were unlike anyone I’d seen, but the characters were silly, sarcastic, and acted like someone I knew. (For a year there, every second person was sporting “The Rachel”, so I did start to see versions of these people). While the warm lit coffee shop, with an often snowy metropolitan backdrop, seemed a million miles away from my drought-ridden Bendigo existence, the couched, coffee mug clasping conversation of comedic adults was familiar to me, witnessing my uncles and aunties gathered ‘round my Grand Ma’s living room of a Sunday afternoon. Even that infectious theme song and catchy opening riff wasn’t out of reach of this failed shredder – I must’ve learned it before my lessons clashed with the show.

When the last season came around, I was somewhere near their age when it all began. In a way me and my friends lives had begun to resemble Ross, Monica, Joey, Rachel, Chandler and Phoebe’s more than before. So as that final episode aired, it felt like the differences between us had dissolved, and the pettiness, silliness and lovingly loyal connection portrayed on screen was something close to home.

🧠 This Week’s Friendly Tip

If your friend leaves the group chat, or is uncharacteristically quiet in it, reach out to them directly and check in.

This might sound obvious, particularly in the case of someone ghosting, but until I was going through a rough patch and found the group text too overwhelming to read, let alone respond to, I didn’t know this could be an indicator of someone struggling. Now that I do, I try to be alert to it and get on the front foot to make contact. I suggest you do too.

Ned Stark left the chat sooner than we expected

A private text is a good start, but a phone call is even better. They might tell you “everything’s great” and they’ve just been “too busy to get in on the *banter”. If so, that’s a great result! You can simply enjoy a good chat with them on the blower. Plus, I find hearing their tone often tells you as much as their words, and if those two things don’t match up, it might reveal more about their situation.

Alternatively, this person might open up and share with you what they’ve been dealing with and appreciate the chance to get something off their chest. If so, simply lend an ear. Then, if the situation calls for it, potentially try to help out.

It sounds dramatic, but the right conversation at the right time can literally save a life, so reach out rather than risk saying nothing.

It can be a telltale sign something’s not right

NOTE: having been on dating apps in the past, this word is completely ruined for me.

🍭 Extra Bits and Bobs

I hope you’ve been enjoying The Wednesday Waffle!

👫 If you and your friends do something that will give us “frienvy” (friend + envy) reach out to us on email - [email protected] - we’d love to share it with the world.

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Until next Wednesday, keep waffling :)