Reggie D. White weighs in on what his character, Simon in Exit, Pursued By A Bear, has done for him…

When you spend a lot of time with a character you’re playing, you learn a lot about them – their fears, their faults, their dreams, and what they’re willing to fight for. But sometimes, if you’re really lucky, your character can teach you things about yourself.

At first glance, Simon is every bit the sharp-tongued, sassy, gay sidekick that we’ve all seen before. Karen on “Will and Grace” had her Jack, Rayanne had her Ricky on “My So Called Life” (for those of you over the age of 21), and let’s not forget about the popular YouTube web series. Not a day goes by that you don’t see an “SGF” performing his sworn duties – giving fashion tips, relationship advice, and always being a shoulder to lean on… let’s face it, having one is certainly more useful than a pair of cute shoes or a hot new bag. But for all of his snappy come-backs, eye-rolls, and diet advice, Simon, plainly and clearly, loves Nan Carter in a way that, in his own words (or Lauren Gunderson’s for that matter) “defies category.” It’s that kind of dress up in a cheerleading outfit/taser your husband love that provides the great example of true friendship. And what’s more, for all of the support that Simon gives to Nan, it’s obvious that he needs her just as badly as she needs him.

My very own “Nan” and I haven’t been friends for nearly as long as Simon and Nan (we’re going on our 3 year frienderversary September 26th), but we’ve definitely seen our share of highs and lows. Weddings, funerals, new loves, break-ups, personal and professional success and failures, a “small world” moment that almost ended our friendship…the whole 9 yards (we even had a homeless man try to force his way into her car one night). Unfortunately for her, I’m less cool than Simon – I don’t have a spare Georgia cheerleading outfit in my closet, I’d much rather watch the Lakers than “Sex In the City”, and one time when she asked me if something matched, I shrugged and said, “sure,” but at least she doesn’t have to twist my arm to watch Cowboys’ games with her. And while I may not necessarily epitomize the ‘sassy’ in “SGF,” I’d be lying through my teeth if I said that I, too, didn’t “heart her with all my heart.”

Spending these past 9 weeks as a saucy Georgian has helped me see a lot of parallels between Nan and Simon’s relationship and mine with my SSF (“Sassy Straight Friend”). Much like Simon and Nan, we’ve been on stage together, we have our own “song”, we spend a hearty amount of time together (in person, over the phone, and instant messenger), we have a can’t-fail karaoke duet (….a few of them actually…and we might even give “Lucky” another shot if I ever learn the harmonies), and we would do just about anything for one another. In BEAR, the audience doesn’t get to see all of the times that Nan’s been there for Simon, but I’m sure that there are plenty of nights that Simon spent crying on Nan’s couch while she threatened to kill some douchebag with a nail file, or the phone calls where she gently reminded him that it’s ok to forgive someone for treating you wrong, but it’s also ok to let them go.

The outward perception in a lot of SGF/SSF relationships is that the man does all of the work, but that simply is not true. For every Simon, there’s a Nan that works just as hard at being his best friend too – supporting him when his family doesn’t quite “get” that being gay wasn’t a choice or cult he signed up for, or a college “phase”; driving to his house in the middle of the night with a copy of “Moulin Rouge” and a tub of ice cream (and yes…they know it’s not sorbet) when he’s had a tough week at work, and the dude he likes STILL hasn’t called him back yet; saying just the right thing to make him laugh so hard he locks himself out of the house.

To all the Nans out there, thanks. We need y’all just as much as you need us. And to mine: FYN!
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