Today I would like to tell you a story that I tell people in person pretty frequently and it's about one of my lifelong friends.
I've always loved television and movies and, when "allowed", it dominates my conversations. If you know me in person, this should come as no surprise to you.
I love entertainment and I refuse to shut up about it.
So, when Six Feet Under came on in 2001, I was ALL ABOUT IT.
It was dark, it was comic, it was comically dark. It showed me about a side sect of life that I would never get to experience myself.
It felt hefty and the characters were fully realized and not just ideas of people.
I fell in love with the Fishers immediately, particularly Claire, who I secretly saw a lot of myself in. I would die for David (most of the time) and Nate had a love life (and other stuff too, but because he was the main dood, they focused on his love life a lot.)
And the patriarch? Even through his flaws, I had the feels for him.
But there were a few characters I just couldn't understand as people. I couldn't give them the context they needed to fully enjoy them.
One was Ruth Fisher, who I completely understand now. I recently rewatched the entire series and (my brain does this to me on rewatches) I focused on Ruth's story most and really understood her motivations and the things she must have been feeling throughout the series.
The other was Frederico, whose death crushed me the literal most by the time I finished the show.
(I don't think that is really a spoiler, because the marketing campaign for the final season of SFU was "Everybody Dies" and they were not lying. Also this show is over 20 years old?)
So, needless to say, I ended up loving him.
But I had some help.
The things I didn't understand were cultural. Growing up in my tiny town, we had one person of Puerto Rican descent, so I didn't really have a frame of reference for Frederico, and couldn't understand the way he interacted with other people.
His wife, in particular.
So, I asked a person I kind of knew to help me figure this out.
At that time, I spent my days on a webboard all about Orlando radio. And at this time, I was mostly a lurker. I was still too shy to interact with these very cool people online. I'd pop in a couple times, but I always felt out of place.
Little did I know that board would be the source of most of my long-lasting adult friendships.
My screen name at the time was "ShutUpListenLearn" which is an embarrassing Kevin Spacey reference. The board member that I reached out to?
His screen name was "DaRican".
So, I, this little clueless white girl, basically said to this biker dood, "Help me understand Frederico. I don't understand where he's coming from and I really want to, because I have soft feelings for him, but I don't know why."
"Soft feelings" is something I really can't put into words, but I've been thinking about it a lot, because I feel it about real people too. It's just like this general feeling, like a soft spot that I have for a human. I think it's me seeing their unrealized potential or something?
But back to Frederico and DaRican.
I fully expected Eddie (DaRican's real name) to just brush me off and not give me the time of day, but he didn't.
I don't even think he had watched the show at the time, but he started watching because I asked him a silly question.
He took the time to teach me about his culture. Patiently. He let me ask dumb questions and understood that I wasn't coming from a place of prejudice or negativity, but from pure ignorance. I was genuinely (and respectfully, I hope) curious.
I know now, this was a lot to ask from him, and am endlessly thankful for teaching me about Puerto Rican culture. He helped me fall in love with Frederico (I'm seriously tearing up thinking about his ending) and cemented a lifelong friendship.
He's even made some of his holiday traditions, our holiday traditions (aka he makes me cinnamon Coquito every year).
I feel like I think sticky situation questions like this a lot, because of my natural curiosity.
When I don't like something for seemingly no reason, I want to know why.
Like, WHY don't I like this thing?
For Frederico, I went through a lot at first:
- Did I not like the actor?
- Did he remind me of someone who was mean to me one time?
- Is he mean?
- Was he mean in something else that my brain can't let go of?
- Did he say something that someone said to me once that I got stuck on and couldn't let go of?"
And that's just the usual. My brain spins much faster than I can even speak, much less type. So this is only like 1% of what went into these thoughts.
Nothing stuck for the actor or character, so I started looking at me. Maybe I have a blind spot and that's why I don't understand his motivation or the dynamic between he and his wife.
So I asked Eddie and he's been one of my go to humans ever since. Heck, he and his kids even helped me move into the house I'm currently living in. (Until June, at least)
I'll never forget how kind and patient he was explaining all these things that were normal life to him, that seemed "out there" for me at the time.
(I've since started to do some research on my own before dumping a load of questions on an unsuspecting human, though, so I've grown a lot since then, lol.)
And he's one of my favorite TV buddies, too.