(Like my newspaper-style title? Made me feel pretty clever…)
Have you ever seen The Labyrinth? Please say yes… because David Bowie plus the Muppets, it’s too good!
In case you haven’t had the pleasure, let me give you a very brief synopsis:
Angry at her parents for leaving her home to babysit her little brother, fantasy-loving Sarah wishes that the Goblin King would come and take him away. Which, unfortunately for Sarah, he does. In order to get her brother back, Sarah has to make her way through a massive labyrinth, replete with many interesting characters, both good and bad… on a deadline. I’m sure IMDB does a better job here.
While I love the movie for a lot of reasons (like I said, David Bowie AND the Muppets… what’s no to love?), I’m especially fond of the character Hoggle and I found myself thinking about him the other day.
Hoggle is the first person (or person-like thing) Sarah meets in the labyrinth and she immediately clings to him as a friend. To which Hoggle replies:
“Friend. Huh! I like that. I ain’t never been no one’s friend before.”
But Hoggle messes up. A couple of times. And ends up reassuring himself that he doesn’t need friends and that the only person Hoggle needs is Hoggle. But you can see that he’s totally dejected and lying even to himself as he says it. (Hoggle may be a classic introvert, yes.)
The best part is at the end, when Hoggle realizes that not only is Sarah his true friend, but so are the others in their unlikely band of heroes– Didymus and Ludo. (Didymus is a little foxish dog-like thing who rides a dog around as his noble steed, I just love it!) Ludo even says in his slow, sweet, growl-y voice:
“Hoggle and Ludo frieeeeends…”
It makes me so happy; that organic growth of friendship out of shared experience and necessity.
And I’m delighted to tell you that I’ve somehow managed to scrape together a similar sort of (heroic) band right here in Marshfield.
As I partied with my crew on Friday night (ugly Christmas sweaters and white elephant gift exchange*) I thought about this group of people and how it came to be and the word that kept springing to mind was that old, standby buzz word:
Organic growth is a good thing in business. It’s also valued in the marketplace. People are pretty into organic fruits and veggies, meats, cleaning products, and personal care items. The idea of something being natural, or as-intended, generally has a very positive connotation.
And I guess I’m not sure why I ever thought that friendship would be any different.
I had a really great group of friends in grad school and it was hard to leave and go to a place where my crew wouldn’t be quite so ready-made. And I wasn’t really sure what to do about that. I signed up for several fitness classes, I scoured craigslist and meetup and the library bulletin board for some sort of group or club to join or get involved with, and nothing really worked out. I even got overly excited about a new potential friend after we ran together at an early morning conference 5K and invited her to go fly kites with me (I’m not even kidding… I’m such a nerd…), but it was so forced and just didn’t work out. I was so sad. And somewhat resigned.
I had essentially decided that I would forgo friendship for the time being and focus on family. I assumed that someday I’d have kids and they would make friends and I would become de facto friends with their parents. Problem solved.
As I pursued that route of action (or non-action, really), hanging out primarily with my husband and his sister and brother-in-law, something rather curious happened. We got involved in sand volleyball at a local supper club, Sister Doctor invited people she knew from the clinic, Seth invited another soccer referee and his wife who were also new to the area, and things kind of just… happened. Turns out, one of Sister Doctor’s resident friends lived next door to the soccer ref and his wife. The wife is a teacher and had another friend from work interested in getting together… the weather got cold, volleyball ended, and we started playing board games… and then started a book club…. and then had a Christmas bash… and planned another for New Years Eve… and look at this. Friends.
Hoggle has friends.
It wasn’t fast, but it also wasn’t forced. And I think, for me, that has made all the difference.
*A white elephant gift exchange is something I was not familiar with. I assumed it was a small secret santa-style gift exchange. Wrong. But I didn’t bother to google it until after I’d already bought gifts for Seth and me. So I was the nerd who brought a homemade pan of apple butter cinnamon rolls and a jar of cream cheese frosting to go with and a lovely little Christmas cactus and box of frosted Christmas tree pretzels. White elephant fail! Although, I walked out with a sweet inflatable ninja turtle punching bag, I don’t that’s a tacky gift at all!!