Brick's Insight on Childhood
By David Henderson
I watched a rerun of one of my favorite TV shows, “The Middle,” last night and one segment was so good that I DVRed it and then transcribed the dialogue. (See here for some of the highlights.) In case you don’t know the show, it’s a middle-income family–they’re actually middle-income, not upper middle or upper, the way most shows purporting to be about middle-income families are–in Indiana. The youngest kid, Brick, is very smart and bookish. He lives for the library, hates Phys. Ed., and is very happy with his own life.
But that’s not enough. The school officials are worried about him because, in their minds, he doesn’t have friends. So they send him to the student counsellor, who tries various methods, all of which fail hilariously, to get him to make friends with other kids. After a few of these attempts, here is the dialogue between Brick and the student counsellor:
Brick: Can I ask you a question? Why do I need to make friends with kids anyway? I mean what’s the point. They’re not interested in what I have to say and I’m certainly not interested in their conversations. You’ve seen them in the halls. They shove, they kick, they take delight in screaming for no reason. If somebody f**ts, that’s a highlight of their day. They chase each other around so that way they may in turn be chased themselves. I still don’t understand that one.
Therapist: Yeah, Brick, but everyone needs friends.
Brick: Well I do have friends: the librarian, the crossing guard, you.
Therapist: Oh. Oh, well thank you, Brick. That gets me right here (putting his hand over his heart.) But I really mean friends your own age.
Brick: But if you look at the entirety of my life, won’t I actually be spending more time with adults than kids anyway?
Therapist: Sure, but . . .
Brick: Think about it. If the whole point of this is to prepare me to make connections with adults later in my life, aren’t I actually ahead of the other kids in that regard?
Therapist: In theory.
Brick: So why is it so important for me to make friends with kids?
Therapist is stumped.
Then, in a later scene:
Therapist: Brick, you asked me why you have to be friends with other kids. And I ran it through the old think tank (pointing to his head) and here’s what I came up with. I have no idea. But I’m going to be applying for a job cutting keys down at the hardware store if you don’t show some signs of improvement, so I’m just asking you as a friend. Can you help me out? Can you do me a solid?
Brick (pensive): Can we move our sessions so that I don’t miss library time but I do miss gym?