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i'm sarah. welcome to the fluf.

FRIENDSGIVING: The Legend of Tavis & Both

 

When I first asked Beau and Tavis to write a post for The Fluf, Beau asked, "wut iz frendshup?" and Tavis said, "I'm sorry I don't know this 'Beau.' Is that even a name?"

The rest is history.

In full-fledged News To Me producer mode. Pls note the whales on Tavis' socks <3

In full-fledged News To Me producer mode. Pls note the whales on Tavis' socks <3


Friendsgiving
by Tavis Gray
 

I met Beau on the first day of class in the fall of 2013.  I think. I honestly can’t remember. I know that we had our first production class together.  And I remember that on the first day there were classmate introduction games, which I hate. I can’t think of anything more boring or full of lies than a not-game where you listen to people say three “interesting” things about themselves that are never interesting. Oh, you like fishing? That’s so cool. We should totally go hook some water-breathers later, sport. Kill me. So whether or not we exchanged names and shook hands that day, I couldn’t tell you for sure. Because, as stated, name-games are the worst and I make every attempt to put them out of my memory.

From there, I’m sure we didn’t interact for at least another semester. The class we had together that fall was project-based and intense, which means I created fictional and petty rivalries with everyone around me in order to sustain a sense of competition. He was a part of a group that I had targeted as my archrivals. I can’t remember what my fake-grievance with him was, or if there was one at all, but I imagine the extent of our interaction amounted to internalized, ad-hominem attacks from me, lack of awareness from him.

I’ve been told that we were in the same Media Management class too. Don’t remember.

In February I was accepted to the Los Angeles field study program. I saw his name on the list and said, “Who’s that?”

I might have stood next to him in a hallway conversation once.

We probably met again at an orientation meeting, where I would have been scoping out potential roommates for the 8-week summer program. I didn’t want to room with anyone taller than me because I consider anyone over six feet a threat. He made the list of under-sixers. I of course had no power over any of this, but it’s important to keep up an air of delusion.

Fast-forward to June. I’m sitting in an apartment one block from Warner Brothers. There’s a gas station sandwich in my mouth when the door opens. A hoard of people enter. It’s Beau and his family, fresh from a road trip across the country. I introduce myself to them while still eating the sandwich. A piece of tomato falls out of my mouth when I shake his dad’s hand. I apologize, pick up the piece of tomato, and put it back into my mouth. I notice Beau make a face at this. I make a mental note to make a face back in the future.

We’re rooming with two other guys too. Jeff and Wade. Wade shares a room with me, Jeff with Beau. I’m pleased to find out that I’m taller than all of them. We get along pretty well, which makes sense because we all have shared career interests. Wade and I talk about television almost endlessly. I don’t know what Jeff and Beau talk about. They may not talk at all. I think this is unbelievable. Talking is one of the most important things in the world. Chatting takes second place. Followed by gabbing, with gossiping as a close runner-up. Beau and I chat sometimes, mostly when I’m complaining about driving or the flies swarming the dish he used last night.

By the middle of the summer we’re friends. Not best friends, but certainly friends. For example, I wouldn’t go to him to talk about stress and an acne crisis and the dream I keep having where I’m flattened by a billboard with my own face on it, but we’d, like, get a burger together?

The program ends and we make our way back to Georgia and then to Athens for our last year of school. I have big dreams about getting into this exclusive production class and making a web series that I had pitched to my boss at my internship during the summer, a project he had called “un-producible.”  I know that Beau is interested in this class too. I approach him about signing on to my pitch. He’s into it. Our friendship level skyrockets.

Over the next couple of months we develop the story and characters. To borrow a bad metaphor—our friendship develops too. We have several meetings about early drafts of my script. I don’t take criticism well, but I find myself trusting Beau with editing my work. I also share several dreams I’ve had about snakes eating my entire body.

We get into the class and begin six months of the most intense and fulfilling work I’ve ever done. Our understanding of each other, what makes us tick and work and manage stress becomes integral to making it through a day sans murder. I’ve recently experienced personal trauma that I’m choosing not to deal with, instead putting all of my energy and feelings and frustration into our web series. I refuse to make any compromises creatively. I want this thing to be as big as it can be; I want the Sun. I wonder if Beau hates me for this. Or if he doesn’t want to deal with me anymore.

His patience, and our friendship, is tested when I tell him I want to play a main character. We’re in an Einstein’s Bagels when I bring this up. I’ve waited days, worried about what his reaction will be. Not that whatever he said would change much, because I’ve decided I’m doing this no matter what. But if I don’t like what he says, our “60 Days Without a Workplace Murder” sign would have to be remade.

I bring it up. He says “okay.” I can tell he has trepidations, but I can also tell he knows it’s inevitable. But his silence after agreeing tells me more. There’s trust. Friendship level-up, fer sure.

We’re a unified front on set. In cast meetings. In the editing room. We have a shared vision of what we want this thing to be. We respect each other. We work better together than I’ve ever worked with someone else before, which is both great and surprising since you’ve probably gathered that I’m a Diva with a capital D.

News to Me premieres and we are equal parts exhausted and ecstatic and unbelievably happy. I don’t know that I’ve ever smiled more than the night of our premiere party. We congratulate each other with a strange sense of separateness. What will our friendship be like without this thing that’s helped to define it? What will we talk about that doesn’t have to do with dialogue edits and camera angles and poster sizes? Do I want to talk about anything else? Will I ever stop talking to myself?

It’s May. I’m planning to move to Los Angeles. Beau wants to travel. We’re working together on the set of a commercial about trashcans. One night we meet up with our friend Lisa. As I sip iced caffeine, prepared to be awake all night before a 7 AM call time, I watch as they make plans for Beau to travel to Germany, where Lisa lives, basically for what sounds like the best trip ever. I’m livid. And jealous. And mad. And raging. I aggressively stir the ice in my glass. They want to know what’s stopping me from going. I buy a plane ticket.

In July Beau and I get on a plane together. The plane that will eventually return us home takes off in six weeks. As I sob watching a movie about Alzheimer’s, I wonder if he understands what he signed up for.

By the time we’re on that flight six weeks later, we’ve hit most major friendship marks I can think of. We’ve traded secrets. I’ve cried in front of him on several occasions. We’ve yelled at each other on train platforms. I’ve taken up too much space in a shared bed. We’ve laughed so hard my ribs hurt. He made me drink beer. If you ever want to test the bounds of friendship, travel for a month and half together with nothing but what you can carry on your back and also be very patient if one of you is crazy and gets so dehydrated he talks to pigeons.

One more fast-forward, rushing through several strata of friendship tests, and we’re living together in a studio apartment in West Hollywood. I’m still crying and he’s still listening to me talk, but there are significantly less pigeons. For now.

I believe that our friendship is strong because it was built under conditions that were essentially make-or-break. I care very deeply about the work I put out into the world, and I found a friend that cares the same amount. Not only that, but someone who also supports the work that I do, as I support what he does. It’s a creative partnership the likes of which I’ve been jealous of since Shonda and Betsy, Gayle and Oprah. And it’s colored only more by the fact that our personalities could not be more different, aside from this distinct will to create. Beau is devastatingly optimistic and I am more cynical than your divorced aunt. I experience emotions at either 0 or 100%; he lands at an even fifty on almost everything. I refuse to budge on any of my many opinions; Beau will mediate arguments like a judge. I think sports are dumb. Beau likes disc golf. Who fucking likes disc golf?

My best advice on securing this kind of friendship? Always be the crazier one. You’ll weed out the weak and get to the ones that’ll stick around. Screw squads. I’d rather have a tiny number of ride-or-dies than a football team of super models. Not to mention that would never work out. They’d all be taller than me!

Hopefully you had a great Thanksgiving, but I also hope you have great, continuing Friendsgiving. Think about the people in your life that have been there for you, changed you for the better, and are always willing to order two pizzas because you refuse to split one. Eat those pizzas together; sacrifice a bite here and there. Slap them with a slice and laugh forever. Know you’re better than everyone else. But be thankful. Thankful for your friendship, but also that you haven’t murdered each other yet. Gobble, gobble, gobble.


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