Friendship (Vignette #2)

By Emma Redmer

Set directly after the 3rd season episode "Your Cheatiní Heart"

Rated G (no objectionable material)

Characters: Larry, Balki

Synopis: Larry thinks about how important Balkiís friendship is to him and how glad he is that Balki forgave him.

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Disclaimer: Perfect Strangers is the property of Lorimar Productions and Warner Bros. Television.

Notes: This is the first in a series of 4 vignettes, each describing the feelings of one of the main characters during a certain part of the series.

"Balki, I canít believe you guys did this for me," I said again as I opened the new Wellington 4000 typewriter (with Feather-touch control).

"Oh, po po, Cousin, what are friends for?" He got up and went to the kitchen as I ran my hand over the brand-new machine.

Iíve never had friends like this. Sure, I had some friends in Madison, but they were never as good to me as Balki, Jennifer, and Mary Anne are. Balki has literally gone out of his way to help me or cheer me up on more than one occasion. This may be normal to him, but it isnít to me.

Balki wonders why I have such a hard time trusting people. Itís not something that comes easily to me. I know I have a naturally suspicious nature. Iím afraid that if I let my guard down, Iíll get hurt and embarrassed. I HATE being embarrassed.

I wasnít too sure about Balki when he first moved in. He was supposed to only be staying until he could get a job, and then until he could make enough money to live on his own. I figured heíd be gone in a few days, and I could get back to finally living without ten other people hogging the bathroom, knocking on my door, and destroying my stuff. Iíd wanted to move out since I was a kid, but there was barely enough money for me to go to college, much less live away from home.

Something happened in the few days after he turned up at my door. I discovered that I didnít like living alone. He may have been a stranger (and often just plain strange), but he became the best friend I ever had. He kept up my spirits when I almost gave up being a journalist, and I encouraged him when he thought he wouldnít be able to get a driverís license. He admired me, and still does. I never had anyone look up to me before, except for my little sister Elaine.

Oh, he can still drive me crazy. I canít get it through his head that us being (barely) related doesnít mean heís allowed to invite strange people to our apartment, use (or sell) my things without asking, and make food that his toy sheep Dimintri couldnít digest. Our refrigerator smells like a petting zoo. He gets up too early in the morning, never puts anything away in the order I left it, is a little too affectionate with strangers, and believes whatever anyone tells him.

I guess that has to do with his country. From what Iíve gathered from talking to him and from the very little I can find on this place in encyclopedias and atlases, Mypos is a tiny island in the Mediterranean, not far from Greece. In some ways, itís still very much in the dark ages, though it has been opening more to civilization since World War II. (Which would explain how Balki heard of cars or TV at all.) Even though he told me that serfdom was abolished in his country years ago, he still dresses like a peasant. You could make three of my sweaters out of the sleeves of one of his blouses. I can understand why he wanted to get away. Heís too smart to be a peasant shepherd his whole life, and a darn fine artist, too.

"Cousin, how would you like your eggs?"

I smiled. "Iíll take them scrambled, with some of that goatís cheese." Goatís cheese is one of the few Myposian foods that donít do a number on my delicate stomach. "And no pig snout."

"Aww, Cousin, youíre no fun."

Part of the joy of living with Balki is introducing him to American customs. Itís a little odd sometimes. He never heard of color TV, pop-top cans, standing upright in front of pretty women (you should have seen how he acted around my friend Susan), elevators, cameras, radios, anacid, and singles bars, among other things, until he left Mypos. I didnít know there were so many things that hadnít traveled outside of the US. I took these things for granted, but they delighted and surprised him.

I hate disappointing him. He risked a lot, immigrating here. He loves everything and everybody, loves living life. Heís so different from me. Itís like I told him after our first double date. He likes to jump in to every situation without thinking, while I prefer checking the water beforehand. Heís the muscle, and Iím the brains. Heís the follower and Iím the leader. Heís Laurel and Iím Hardy. Heís Oscar and Iím Felix. You get the picture.

I say that Balki tends to jump in without thinking, but I do it, too. Itís that suspicious nature of mine. So-called friends and girlfriends have used me before. In grade school, bullies would beat me to get my lunch money, then taunt me when I went to my mother in tears. In high school, I was threatened by jocks that wanted to copy my science and Latin homework. The girls in college acted sweet and then dumped me after I helped them study or meet the boy they were really interested in.

Balki is one of the only people outside of my immediate family who never expected anything from his friendship with me. All he wants is a roof over his head, a stuffed sheep in his lap, and someone to talk to. I like having his company. Heís fun to be around and is always there to lend a sympathetic ear. He encourages everything I do (even when he really shouldnít). He goes along with my schemes and ideas, even when they get us into trouble (and yes, I know Iíve had a few get-rich quick ideas that may have gotten us into trouble once or twice).

If thereís one thing I admire about Balki, itís that he doesnít hold grudges. He forgives not only me, but also everyone who hurts him. Iím not as good at forgiving people. I do hold grudges, but not against him. Not against someone who just gave me a wonderful present that I certainly donít deserve.

Balki paraded out to the living room with two plates of scrambled eggs, toast, and orange wedges. "Balki," I asked as we settled down to breakfast, "Iím glad youíre my friend."

He put down the food and threw his arms around me. "Me too, Cousin. Youíve been good to Balki. Not everyone would have taken me in, or helped me find a job, or a date."

"I couldnít just let you wander in the cold. It gets freezing in Chicago." I nodded at the eggs. "Which reminds me, why donít we wander into these scrambled eggs?"

Balki was right. We did need each other.