25 years ago this month, Steel Magnolias released into town theaters and settled into the hearts of viewers.
I remember that Friday night when, after a long hard week of high school, my best friend Cathy and I met at our hometown movie theater at the corner of 14th and Hartford to watch Steel Magnolias. We also met up with a whole gaggle of girlfriends there, which is how I believe God intended this movie to be watched. Armed with Twizzlers, coke, and popcorn, we stretched out across an entire row and proceeded to alternate between laughing and crying for two solid hours.
I can hardly believe that was 25 years ago. (That is, until I catch a view of the cast in all their late ’80’s glory.) This weekend I watched Steel Magnolias for the 487th time, and I became re-aquainted with some of my favorite quippy *and* serious lines from the movie:
Ouiser: “M’Lynn, I’m not crazy, I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years!”
Yep, laugh and cry, laugh and cry.
A relational gal like me loves so much about this movie, but what I love most about it (other than Dolly Parton) is the steely, gritty portrayal of true-blue friendship among this close-knit circle of friends. So in honor of Steel Magnolias’ momentous birthday this month, here are just a few of the lessons about friendship I’ve learned (or had reinforced) from this beloved movie:
1. Friendships are best maintained when you have regularly scheduled meetings at a regularly appointed place. In Steel Magnolias, Truvy’s Beauty Shop fits the bill for this. The six friends continually meet there to not only beautify themselves but to talk about what’s going on in their lives and ’round town.
2. Friends show up. Whether for celebrations or funerals, good friends show up to double your joy and halve your sorrow. And in the transition from one part of life to the next, they wait with you.
3. Friends will tell you the truth–even if it’s harsh. And they will save you from making a fool of yourself even if it embarrasses you. When Clairee starts a gig as the radio color announcer for the local football team, she takes the job title literally by chattering on about the color of the team’s new uniforms rather than simply filling in information about team analysis. Ouiser sets her straight by telling her–in the middle of the locker room full of football players–she’s making a big fool of herself because all anyone wants to hear about are touchdowns and injuries. Ouiser’s delivery method was characteristically harsh, but at the heart was Clairee’s best interest.
4. Friends give you a safe place to fall apart (but they also know how to use humor to help put you back together). When M’Lynn breaks down after Shelby’s funeral, nobody tries to talk her into feeling better. They just stand with her and listen. As in all the hard times of life they share, the friends don’t overlook the hard but patiently do what they can to help each other laugh through it.
5. There’s no such thing as over-sharing. These women don’t waste time wondering if they should risk vulnerability or avoid “airing their dirty laundry.” They share the good, bad, and ugly because they know their friends are a safe place where they’re understood. They risk because they know the benefits of friendship far outweigh the worry that they are “bothering” someone.
Are you a Steel Magnolias fan? What would you add to the list?
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