Do you have friends you can rely on? Pals to travel with you down the road and back again? Do you have friends who you can share a home with, let alone your sorrows and joys?

Paul Wong
Katie Mulcrone<br><br>Practically Joking

I don”t, so I rely on television to provide these friends for me. I”m thinking of NBC”s wonders, the Golden Girls. For those of you unfamiliar with the hit comedy series, “The Golden Girls” aired from 1985 to 1992 and starred Beatrice Arthur as Dorothy, Estelle Getty as Sophia, Rue McClanahan as Blanche and Betty White as Rose.

I wanted to see which of the girls people around here like best, so I enlisted a little help. My friend Japiya Burns agreed to help me petition passersby to sign off on their favorite Golden Girl. But since there were only two of us, Japiya and I had to make some tough choices. I decided to throw my weight behind Rue McClanahan because I feel that her portrayal of the sensual, outspoken Blanche has gone long unappreciated. Japiya opted to support Betty White (Rose), paragon of all things cute, cuddly and dumb.

Before we hit the Diag, Japiya and I made some signs and decorated pictures of “the girls.” I made us some petitions:

“WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, FIRMLY AGREE THAT RUE McCLANAHAN, “THE FORGOTTEN GOLDEN GIRL,” IS THE BEST! SHE RULES!”

“WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, FIRMLY AGREE THAT BETTY WHITE WAS THE BEST GOLDEN GIRL! SHE IS A TV LAND LEGEND!”

We were ready. I got my first signature in support of Rue before we”d even left the computer lab. My manager at work proudly signed her name at the top of the petition and scrawled in “Yea for the slut!” That”s right! Rue got her next vote almost immediately when we ran into Sean in the hallway outside the computer lab.

When Japiya and I set up our signs in the Diag, I was already two votes ahead, so I was pretty excited. We stood together, proudly bearing our pictures of the girls” faces, waiting to be vindicated. Mostly, we were mocked. One bookish guy gave us a strange look and crossed out of our path. Some high school kids laughed at us. But then vindication came in the form of the girl with headphones.

She pushed her headphones off her ears and listened thoughtfully to our respective pitches. I explained how Blanche embodies a special sort of feminism and upsets the stereotype of the aging Southern belle. Then Japiya dealt the low blow: Animal rights. Yeah, yeah, Betty White loves puppies and kitties. I lost the girl in the headphones to puppies and kitties. But at least she didn”t sneer at us like the next five or six people who walked by. The next man to sign gushed about how much he loves “The Golden Girls:” “It”s on Lifetime every day, you know!” We know. He seemed disappointed that we weren”t petitioning on behalf of Estelle Getty, but then unhesitatingly signed for Rue.

Our next supporter insisted on taking first Japiya”s picture, then mine. I think he thought we were weirdos. Oh well. He signed for Rue. Interesting note: All men (with the exception of Japiya) voted for Rue. After this we had a long dry spell in which we tried to explain exactly who the girls are to some students from Yugoslavia, got laughed at by some more high school kids (different ones), and got into a heated argument about who the best-looking Golden Girl was. More weird looks, people dodging out of our path. We were both starting to get cold.

Two people stopped to talk to us. Japiya espoused his animal rights bullshit once again, and once again it worked. The girl signed for Betty. The boy claimed ignorance of the Golden Girls. Grr. By this time Japiya and I were very cold. We took long looks in each direction and didn”t see anyone who looked like they would stop to talk, so we decided to call it quits. The final tally? Five signatures for forgotten TV goddess Rue McClanahan and a mere three for softie Betty White. Like I said, everyone loves the slut!

Katie Mulcrone”s column runs every other week. She can be reached via e-mail at kmulcron@umich.edu.

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