When We Were Kids: Growing Up John Hughes

I’ve been foiled by the evil estrogenies on my long weekend Monday, and my monthly female visitor is making its presence known. Happily, I’m now medicated.

More happily, TiVo ate some Breakfast Club and is serving it up fresh for me this morning — one of those few movies I can recite more than half. It’s surprising how many of those movies I can recite are of the John Hughes Library.

_am_ the John Hughes Generation. I’m so sad he passed away before 60, and bitter he stopped his brilliantly insightful teen movies when he did, back in the ’80s. I always wanted to go through college with John Hughes as my guide. Thank god Cameron Crowe peaked when he did. I’ve not yet written about Hughes’ death, though, and have been meaning to say a few words.

Everyone in my crowd has their own John Hughes memory. This is the biggest of them all, for me: The Breakfast Club.

breakfast20clubIt was a June day back in 1985. None of my friends (overstating it: “classmates”, not friends)  had seen this movie “The Breakfast Club” but I was sure they’d like it. And to show it to ’em, I had the biggest, baddest party of them all. A slumber party!

Every girl in my class was invited. And… unbeknownst to Mom & Dad, so were most boys; I had hatched a master plan. It was a Saturday, we’d hang at my house, then we’d all head down to the FunFun Park… (I kid you not, I grew up a block from a park called The FunFun Park — explains a lot, no?) …and all the boys would meet us there. We could play for an hour or two (ahem, play) and then go back home, do our girl-thang.

It was the end of grade 7. We were all 12-year-olds and we were each just discovering that the opposite sex wasn’t so icky after all.

I invited many kids that day, but I had not invited Danny.* He was the goat farmer’s son. Guess what he smelled like? Yep. Mm, goat — HAWT.

We were in Grade 7. Seriously, kids that age a) don’t shower like they should and b) tend to be mean to those who don’t fit in. I wasn’t immune to being a cunt then.

At school, the chatter was to a minimum about the party — most kids knew it was hush-hush. If parental units heard, Bad Things Would Happen. This was The Big Ticket. Our first attempt at going parentless, the summer before high school.  Whatever trouble could we get up to, out there, at the FunFun Park, sans Parental-Types?

I had visions of being the mastermind behind many a first kiss. SMOOCHIES galore! Oh, the excitement! Only two days left and my parents still hadn’t gotten wind of my brilliant scheme.

Then Danny phoned.

While I was literally washing my hair.

Mom took a message.

Ever so destructively helpful of her. Typical.

“I was just wondering what time we were supposed to come out there for the party at the… FunFun Park?”

“…The party? At the FunFun Park? There’s no party at the Fu… Fu–!!”

God help me. Oh, the tirade it unleashed. My mother was not one for letting a lesson go unfelt. And by “unfelt” I mean punctuated with several whacks to one’s tushy. Sheepishly I hauled my tenderized ass to school that Friday and told everyone rather dramatically “DANNY WRECKED IT. FOR EVERYBODY.” At least it wasn’t MY fault.

My party! Destroyed! All by the GOAT FARMER’S BOY. Dammit! Foiled!

So now it would be — sigh — a movie-and-popcorn-and-stupid-girlie-stuff night. No boys. Damn you, goat farmer’s boy!

The girls all still came over, gamefaces on. We’d have fun anyhow. (Damn you, goat farmer’s boy!)  Cake was had. We behaved. Then, 13 of us crammed into my bedroom for the night’s movies, and pajamaed up and readied for swoonery: The Breakfast Club and Rebel Without A Cause. I was a discerning pubescent girl.

The Breakfast Club blew our minds. All that teen angst and the hotness and the — RRR! — god, we loved it. I fell hard and long for the baddest boy of them all, John Bender. Oh, how I swooned. I watched it several times before returning the VHS on Sunday afternoon.

For me, The Breakfast Club became a foundation for who I would become. To this day, I don’t apologize for what I am. I don’t fit into any “typical” holes. I’m an acquired taste, and I really don’t care. I don’t have to justify who I am to anyone, and more importantly, I won’t. Hughes taught me that in both the opening and closing voiceovers of The Breakfast Club.

But that’s not all John Hughes schooled me well in. Among other things in life I learned from Hughes & his movies —

  • Love, in all its stupidity, is a really big thing, and when hearts swell or break, it’s SUCH a big thing it’s probably worth writing a movie about, or at least a song.
  • Whatever happens, it’s really, really important that it happen when there’s good music playing, because a good soundtrack makes everything all better.
  • Image is everything but can also be uniquely you, because Molly Ringwald looked fuckin’ hot in that quirky Pretty In Pink dress. Ducky kinda worked it in his own hot-dorky-way too.
  • Story is eternal, human struggles are common when they’re matters of the heart, and the geeks shall inherit the earth or at least the really hot chick every now and then (especially when they can rig serious equipment in their bedrooms when the folks are outta town).
  • Bad boys are hot, but they will break your heart. So will the good guys, though. (I blame you, Ducky.)
  • If you’re stuck somewhere and have time to kill, marijuana might be fun.
  • If you’re REALLY smart, you’ll ask for a computer for Christmas, because look how well it worked for Ferris.
  • Always know at least one good dance move, and have a big bag ready-packed, because you never know when you may have to jam.
  • Insecurities are like dustbunnies; they’re hiding everywhere, and everyone’s got ’em.

We’ll miss you, John. Thanks for the memories.

So, hey… what’s YOUR memory?

*All names have been changed to protect the identity of children of goat farmers.