We Need To Talk About Francine

Look, she’s just a bad friend to Elizabeth, ok?

The Aquabats, as I’m sure you know, are one of the greatest bands to have ever walked this Earth. Consistently bringing the rock/ska hits since they formed in 1994, there are a lot of things we can say about them. They branched out into television with their awesomely weird show, their frontman - The MC Bat Commander is also a robot on a different kid’s show, and Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker was once among their lineup. There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to The Aquabats, even if almost everything I personally want to talk about boils down to “Man, the Aquabats are awesome!” or “hey man, wanna listen to the Aquabats with me?”

But I’m afraid that there’s something that’s been weighing on my mind lately, and by “lately” I mean “ever since I first heard this song in high school” — we need to talk about Francine. Specifically, we need to talk about how she’s a terrible friend to Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s identical twin sister Liz, and probably also to their identical cousin Beth. I will not stand idly by while we continue to not address an instance of toxic friendship in a ska song from 2005.

Image: The Aquabats!

At this point, if you’re a normal person whose brain functions properly, you might be thinking “I have no idea what this guy is talking about and I regret opening this article.” While you’re probably right to regret reading this, sit back and let me explain. It will all make perfect sense to you soon.

The year was 2005 and the superheroes known as The Aquabats (who also happen to make awesome music) released “Charge!”, their 5th studio album. On it was the song “Hot Summer Nights (Won’t Last Forever)!”. While I can talk about this song for hours (it’s my favorite), we’re really most interested in the ending. Go ahead, follow that Spotify link and listen to it 17 or 18 times before we proceed. In fact, here’s an Apple Music link if you prefer that.

Did you listen to it? Good.

In the song, we learn that our protagonist Roger has fallen for a woman he met at the beach named Elizabeth. They hit it off, but unfortunately Elizabeth is a scientist who studies glaciers. Which is super cool, but she has to leave for an extended research trip in Alaska. To make matters worse, it’s very remote and there’s no way for Roger to contact her while she’s away. Bummer. Roger then attends a party where he thinks he sees Elizabeth, but it’s actually her identical sister, Liz. In a twist of fate, Liz is also a glaciaologist! And she’s due to join her sister studying the same glacier in a remote part of Alaska. Then Roger meets another girl that looks like both of them at the mall and she turns out to be their identical cousin Beth. And that’s super cool.

And that’s where Francine comes in. Roger calls Elizabeth and Beth’s phone to leave another encouraging message for them to hear when they can check their voicemails. But he doesn’t get the answering machine, he reaches a woman who at first claims to be Elizabeth! But she’s actually their friend Francine who is watching their house for them.

This leads me to my thesis: Francine is a terrible friend!

House sitting is a sacred trust among friends. One of the core tennets, just behind “don’t burn the place down” is that you should never assume the identity of your friend! I might not be an authority on, well, anything, but I do know that you shouldn’t answer someone else’s phone and claim to be that person. That’s super rude. If she were a good friend, she would’ve answered the phone by saying “Elizabeth and Liz’s house, this is Francine speaking.” Anything else is an inconsiderate, misleading lie.

Furthermore, she doesn’t even know where her friends are! Elizabeth and Liz are glaciologists working tirelessly to provide data about our impending climate emergency. They are trying to save the world and every living thing on it, and they deserve respect. The least Francine could do is know the difference between Europe and Alaska — it really isn’t hard. Even putting aside the important research that they do, Elizabeth and Liz are genetic marvels. Identical twins are cool enough, but they have an identical cousin! I didn’t even know they had identical cousins! Roger is rightfully impressed by all of this, but for some reason their “friend” Francine can’t be bothered by any of it. Despicable.

I posit you this: either Francine is a terrible friend who doesn’t deserve to even know those wonderful, brilliant scientists, or… I don’t even know. She’s clearly a bad friend. What other explanation could there be? It’s not like it’s possible that Elizabeth actually isn’t a scientist in Alaska who has both an identical sister and cousin. It would be simply inconceivable to think that Elizabeth lied because Roger was coming on too strong and she wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t believe it if it turned out that Francine didn’t exist at all, that it was all a lie to get away from Roger.

Oh. Man. That’s it isn’t it? It was all a lie. Tough break, Roger.

Connor is a writer, poet, and filmmaker in Indiana. He enjoys long walks through the woods and other clichés.