It bothers me only because I want them to be people I can identify with. I suppose that's the real appeal of the show, at least these older ones. It's not really about the plots, which mostly aren't particularly good writing or good science fiction even in their own time. It's the concept that the Doctor could show up tomorrow in my life, sweep me up in a madcap adventure to solve some bizarre problem, and then take me away to see times and places far distant from my own. Of course it's dangerous to be a Companion, but the odds of surviving to the end of the episode are pretty good. I have to think that's what really makes the fans, whether it's conscious or not.
Of course, this isn't the first time I've wanted to be a Companion. Watching Inara on Firefly made me long to get her training. Despite the slurs and assumptions, it's pretty clear that her vocation is about a great deal more than sex. For one thing, it's made quite clear in Heart of Gold that if all you want is sex, there are whores to be had for much cheaper than the Companions. What we see and hear indicates that what a Companion does is make people happier and healthier, whether that's through physical release, or relaxation, or conversation, or just appearing as arm candy to firm up a reputation. Inara's a trained psychologist and healer-of-hearts. That, the healer-of-hearts, is something I've long tried to be. I wish I could get training to know what I'm doing in that. The rest of the training, creating beauty and poise and grace, and yes, sex, would give me the confidence to be able to carry it off. To be able to touch someone's life and consistently find the way to make them happier, that would be worth a lifetime of slurs and insults.
There are a great many Companions in science fiction and fantasy, it turns out. Mercedes Lackey's telepathic horses, Jacqueline Carey's Companions of Elua. Then again, companions (without the capital c) seem to be central to the basic epic quest that forms the heart of the genre. They may start traveling together simply because they're all going to the same place (they're off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz). Through their journey, they become not just friends, but something more. The goals of each become the goals of all. When Frodo's Fellowship broke up, it would have made perfect sense for Legolas and Gimli each to go home, to deal with the needs and concerns of their own people. Instead, they and Aragorn continue to travel together, a strange grouping that works because of the trust and loyalty and camaraderie they've already built.
Those companions are really what I'm looking for. Not all friends are companions, and that's how it should be. Friends make homes for you to come back to, they listen to the stories, they feed you well and give you strength for your journey. We need that. The companions are the ones who join you on your journey, or invite you along on theirs. Whether that's down the hall and around the dealer's room, on a road trip out of state, or a series of introspective discussions leading to personal growth, it's about doing it together. It's not just sharing the moment, but sharing over time. And the companions aren't necessarily the ones who are the most fun, or the most interesting. They're the ones who are reliable and trustworthy, who will shoulder your burdens as readily as their own. I want to find the people who will share my journey, and who will take me along on theirs. I want to be the person you'd want to have with you.