Why I Use Pop Culture References in Daily Life

Those of you who know me know that I can hardly have a conversation without referring to some form of pop culture – a movie, a television show, a song, an actor.  The list goes on and on.  Why do I do this?

Well, I have a better question for you – why don’t you do this?

I have been told that I’m not the friendliest person.  I think the exact words that I’ve heard is that I have a “resting bitch face.”  Nice, right?  I’m not grumpy, as a general rule.  But I’m also not warm and touchy-feely with every person I meet.  I have a large bubble.  And I already have a lot of friends.  I don’t really need any more, right?

That’s never true.  You can never have enough friends.

Here is an example that I will never forget:

At this point in life, you’ve heard many a “that’s what she said” joke, right?  They were made popular by The Office, but they must have existed before then.  I can’t help myself – those are always funny.  I giggle uncontrollably sometimes around people who barely know me.  Embarrassing?  Sort of.  But if you don’t think those are funny, then we probably can’t be friends, let’s be honest.

So, here I am, a recent college graduate who has been given the wonderful opportunity to continue to do undergraduate research at my liberal arts college even though I’ve already received my degree.  I already knew the lab manager (who has a similar approach to meeting people, so we became friends long before the summer had started) and another member of the lab who had been in a class with me my senior year.  I was set.  There were other friends still living in the area.  It was my last summer before starting a PhD program.  I didn’t need anyone else.

Until one day in June when someone said something perfect for a “that’s what she said,” and I muttered it under my breath and giggled to myself.  That’s how I met D.  He was chuckling, too.

After that, it was he who made me realize that I couldn’t avoid making new friends anymore.  He popped my large personal space bubble by plunking down next to me on a couch in the science center atrium and offered to pick me up some wine, if I wanted to hang out with him and some others that night.  (Don’t worry, we were all of age.  We don’t commit crimes.)

It’s a little bit funny when I look back on it, because he became such a huge part of my life in a very short amount of time.  A month later, I moved to the South.  So, in the three years that I’ve known him, I’ve probably only actually spent a month or two with him.  When friends are true, that doesn’t matter.  You know you’ve found a soul-mate friend when distance doesn’t mean anything.

As another example, take K and I.  When I moved to the city two years ago, it was the closest we had ever lived to each other, and we’ve been friends since we were fourteen.  Or take my FR and I.  She called me yesterday while I was driving home from work so that we could talk about the Bachelorette.  J1 and I text about the Bachelorette almost every week, as well (Speaking of which, how do you feel about the final two?  I loved Farmer Chris!).  And AM and I speak in a code that no one else understands – it’s made almost entirely of references to TV shows. (AM, I couldn’t figure out what to call you at first, because I’m A and you’re A, but don’t worry.  It’s handled.)  I have entire friendships built off of Pretty Little Liars (love you, J2, and I’m sorry I’m a week behind in recaps).  This is how my brain works.  But why does it work this way?

I think it has something to do with a comfort zone.  I’m uncomfortable until I hear someone make a reference that I understand, and I start laughing.  I think to myself, now, here is someone I can relate to, because they watch the same TV shows as I do.  Here is someone who I will always have something to talk about with.  And the friendship blossoms from there.  Plus, inside jokes are what make a friendship, really.

I encourage the use of pop culture in conversations.  It’s a way of bonding.  It’s a way of showing love.  It’s how I know I can make H laugh at the end of a long day – he can’t keep a straight face when I pretend I’m the little fish with the lisp in Finding Nemo – “Oh my gosh!  Nemo’s swimming out to sea!”

Maybe you’d have to be there.



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