Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross and Joey aren't the only "Friends."

As the television show celebrates its 25th anniversary this fall — and we still love to drop in at Central Perk through the ubiquitous reruns — we found some readers to share stories of their one-in-a-million friendships.

Peggy Cartwright and her three girlfriends call themselves “The Next Golden Girls.”

Cartwright and Brittany Nave were only 16 when they met in 2000 when both were hired for their first jobs at the same store. Nave met Adrienne Rachel the following year in high school. Melissa Francis came aboard in 2006 after she and Nave interned at the same office.

“We've managed to stay friends for so long, not only because we have a lot in common but because we continue to support one another,” Cartwright said. “Despite major life changes such as marriages, divorces, kids and out-of-state moves, we've stuck together. We know we can depend on one another; that the call will be answered no matter the time or situation.”

And it might not always be in person. Sometimes technology lends a hand when Nave, who now lives in Houston, Skypes in to visit.

Together they are checking off items on their “40 things I want to do before I turn 40” bucket list, including skydiving (fulfilled on a spontaneous indoor skydiving jaunt) and a trip to the Big Apple. 

“Right now, we’re planning our next adventure — a trip to New England next fall," said Cartwright. “We now have careers, families and a few miles between us, but we are still a bucket of fun and enjoy living life and making memories together."

Fast friends forever

It was 1989 and Melinda Walsh was a 30-something working in the film industry when she moved across the street from Sharon Rowe, who lived next door to Clydene Weathersby. They all became fast friends. And the group grew.

As Walsh explains, Katja Rountree was Rowe’s bestie from college, and Walsh knew Sandra Stokes from working in the film industry.

“Beth Beard, also another connection from the film industry, joined us shortly thereafter,” Walsh said. “Lely Hedrick was friends with Katja and joined us about 10 years ago and Beth’s friend, Diane Berry, joined us around eight years ago.”

That bond of friendship sustained them when Weathersby died in 1996. They also had lots of fond memories to cherish.

“The rule for many years was that the birthday girl gets to do whatever she wants and we all have to go along with it,” said Walsh. “That’s how we ended up at the oval dirt track north of Baton Rouge to watch the dirt track races. When we arrived, we were delighted to see all the empty front row seats at the track. We all picked dirt and gravel out of our hair for days.

“One year, we surprised our birthday girl with limo service to the Windsor Court for tea in New Orleans,” she said. “Afterwards, we had just enough time to do a half-hour shopping trip at Canal Place. … In that time, one of us came back with two dresses and a pair of shoes, and another managed to buy a couch.”

38 years and counting

Talisha Parker Penny and Patricia Howard Phillips have been friends since the fifth grade. Simone Higginbotham, who is a year older, met Phillips in physical education class at Glen Oaks Middle School and through her met Penny.

“We are looking at about 38 years of friendship,” said Higginbotham. “I think that we were drawn together because we had one thing in common — we were big girls, what’s now labeled plus size and is more acceptable. But we shared the gift of laughter; we are all comedic.”

One memory that always elicits a laugh from the trio is when Parker “borrowed” her mom’s car for a visit to Southern University, where they stayed longer than they intended.

“I can still feel the panic of what would happen it Mrs. Parker beat us back to the house from church. We made it back seconds before she walked in the house,” recalled Higginbotham. “We still laugh about that night.

“We have survived bad marriages, divorces and deaths together,” she added.

The real thing

Michelle Rabalais was 4 years old when she met Tod Bowman on their first day of school in 1978. For 13 years they were inseparable.

They lost touch after high school, but reconnected at their 10th class reunion, picking up right where they left off.

At 30, Rabalais met Karen Kirkland when they both worked for the same company. Two years later, she met Kim Thomas at a party.

“We are the group that people wish they could join as forever friends. … They know we are the real thing,” Rabalais said.

At least one weekend every month they gather for brunch and to catch up over cocktails.

“Nothing has been strong enough to break us up," Rabalais said. "We hang through the tough times together. These three people together add a source of happiness and joy to my life. We know each other very well. … We’re closer than most siblings.”

Email Pam Bordelon at pbordelon@theadvocate.com.