A group of friends went to the theater. The play was awful. Then, one of them says:

Did anybody else feel like they just wanted to peel the skin off their body, to have something else to do?

I know the translation of this phase but I could not understand its meaning. By the way, it was extracted from the scripts of Friends, episode 6, first season. The episode starts with a part of the play. After that, we have the first talk of some of the friends: "God. I feel violated.". So, comes the phase I marked above.

If possible, I would like some help to understand this sentence. Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    "Did anybody else feel like they just wanted to [peel the skin off their body][stick their fingers in a fan][eat a bag of gravel], to have something else to do?" The experience of the play was so excruciatingly unpleasant that it may be more pleasant to undergo the alternatives. (Why is that funny? That's LitCrit and strictly OT here.) Jun 11, 2017 at 21:49
  • Dear P. E. Dant, then does the pronoun they refer to the friends? I was thinking it would refer to the actors of the play...
    – rgm
    Jun 11, 2017 at 22:51
  • 1
    In this sentence, they refers to anybody else. Jun 11, 2017 at 22:53
  • Hum, now I see why I was confused. Thank you so much!
    – rgm
    Jun 11, 2017 at 22:54
  • Would you like to answer or could I do?
    – rgm
    Jun 11, 2017 at 22:58

1 Answer 1


As P. E. Dant kindly commented, the experience of the play was so unpleasant that one of the friends considered it as a pain greater than to peel the skin off her body. He also pointed that in the emphasized sentence, they refers to anybody else and not to the actors in the play, as I was thinking.

  • 1
    It's not just anybody, Monica's quote is directed to Rachel, Chandler, and Ross ("their body", read: "your body") since she is talking to them as a group. Skin flaying is a well known and ancient slow form of execution.
    – Peter
    Jun 12, 2017 at 1:30
  • 1
    @Peter rgm's analysis is correct. His answer does not claim that the referent is "just anybody". The pronoun they in the sentence refers to the phrase anybody else, as he says. What anybody else refers to is interesting, but it was not addressed in the question. Jun 12, 2017 at 3:20

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