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In this episode from Friends, the girls are into a book which they claim are empowering women and suggests "women are Goddesses and men are lightning bearers who take away their wind".

The three girls gathered up to do a self-checklist from the book, and their conversations quickly turn into a quarrel.

PHOEBE: Ok, question number 28, have you ever allowed a lightning bearer to take your wind? I would have to say no.

MONICA: Do you not remember the puppet guy?

RACHEL: Yeah you like totally let him wash his feet in the pool of your inner power.

PHOEBE: Yeah ok, well at least I didn't let some guy into the forest of my righteous truth on the first date.

MONICA: Who?

PHOEBE: Paul.

RACHEL: Ok, ok, ok, moving on, moving on, next question. Ok number 29, have you ever betrayed another goddess for a lightning bearer? Ok, number 30.

MONICA: Woah, woah, woah, let's go back to 29. Danny Arshak, ninth grade. Oh, c'mon Rach, you know the bottle was totally pointing at me.

RACHEL: Only 'cause you took up half the circle. (* In case you need the context, Monica used to be overweight in high school.)

PHOEBE: Listen to you two. It's so sad. Looks like I'm gonna be going to the goddess meetings alone.

RACHEL: Well not when they find out you slept with Jason Hurley an hour after he broke up with Monica.

MONICA: One hour?

PHOEBE: (Pointing at Rachel, mad and upset) You are such a leaf blower!

What does the "leaf blower" mean in the context above? It's not likely that the meaning has anything to do with the literal meaning of it, the machine leaf blower.

Or could it be that it contains any sexual innuendo? In the earlier minutes of this episode, there's also a conversation about the wind blowing which Ross totally took the other way around. (I got the joke by the way so no need to explain this.)

ROSS: Uh, sweetie we've gotta go.

RACHEL: NO! (She had just finished reading the book, and she's determined not to follow what a guy suggests her doing, I suppose.)

ROSS: (Totally confused, not knowing anything about the book.) No?

RACHEL: No, why do we always have to do everything according to your time table?

ROSS: Actually it's the movie theatre that has the time schedule. So you don't miss the beginning.

RACHEL: No, see this isn't about the movie theatre, this is about you stealing my wind.

ROSS: Excuse me, your, your, your wind?

RACHEL: Yes, my wind. How do you expect me to grow if you won't let me blow?

ROSS: Um... You, you know I, I don't, have a- have a problem with that.

Thank you in advance for your help.

2 Answers 2

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It's not a standard idiom.

Presumably it is another metaphorical term that they are taking from the book, like "lightning bearer", "pool of inner power" or "forest of righteous truth"

A "leaf blower" is someone who "steals the wind of a goddess and blows the leaves on the trees in the forest or righteous truth"...or something. The joke is how ridiculous these metaphors are. And it is a parody of the "Men are from Mars" book.

There is unintentional sexual innuendo. That is, it's unintended by Rachel, but it is intended by the authors of the script.

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The kind of quiz the girls are completing is typical of the 'personality tests' found in magazines of the time (and possibly still today). They ask a series of questions on a theme to which you select a multiple choice answer. At the end, you are told a sweeping generalisation about your personality based on the majority of your answers.

Typically, the results involve a series of labels on an imaginary scale - for example, a quiz I found on YouTube titled 'How Girly Are You?' places your scores into the the categories of tomboy, slightly girly, and girly girl.

The fictional quiz in Friends is evidently on the theme of being a 'goddess'. As one of the questions is about having your "wind stolen" I would guess it is more specifically about likening women to a wind deity such as the ancient Greek goddess Aura, the breeze personified. One could imagine that the resulting labels would be on a sliding scale of how much metaphorical 'wind' the woman playing the quiz is deemed to have. I understand 'leaf-blower' to refer to the garden implement you mentioned, and I would guess it is a low score in the quiz based on how little air a leaf blower produces. I could imagine the other resulting labels might be things like 'hair dryer' or, at the other end of the scale, wind turbine'. Phoebe is therefore suggesting that Rachel scores poorly in this quiz.

The later innuendo comes from Ross not understanding the context of Rachel needing to "blow", because he is not aware of the quiz.

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    Nice explanation; especially the sliding scale from hairdryer to wind turbine.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 28, 2023 at 12:18

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