Friday, August 7, 2009

leader of the pack

As I have been staring down the barrel of middle age lately and reflecting on who I really am (and why), it occurs to me that a great deal of my personas throughout the years have been based on characters in John Hughes movies.

I saw Sixteen Candles the summer I turned 16; I was in love with a cute Canadian boy who sometimes returned my affections, and I was adored by a geeky clown whose affections I couldn't appreciate. I frequently wrapped a ribbon in my bobbed hair and rolled my eyes a lot.

When I watched The Breakfast Club, I honed my attraction to bad boys. I tried to be as pretty as the Princess yet as edgy & artsy as the Basket Case; I still attempt to maintain that balance, frankly.

I discovered the depths of my OCDness while watching Weird Science; the madcap messes stressed me out. Though I totally appreciated the message that hot girls are not necessarily the [only] answer to all boys' needs.

Pretty in Pink was my senior year anthem; I can still sing every song on that soundtrack and every one will make me weepy. I felt so validated and inspired by Andie's thrift store wardrobe style that I [sometimes unfortunately] copied it into college.

I went to see Ferris Bueller's Day Off during the first days of my freshman year at WSU. Every moment of that movie was fantastic in a way that made me feel hipper and cooler and ready to figure out where I was going in life, but with flair.

She's Having A Baby came out a decade before I became a mom, but it has always been a touchstone for me & my man. We quote lines to each other all of the time, to de-escalate potential arguments ("Don't forget to tell him what I think about HIS GIRLFRIEND!") or ponder strange foods ("Grouper. It's grouper."). It all made much more sense once we started down the road to parenthood; I presented Stu with the soundtrack after my first positive pregnancy test. Plus I cut my hair like adorable Elizabeth McGovern and bought as many maternity outfits like hers as I could find.

John Hughes was a genius at portraying the sometimes stark, often painful realities of life with care & humor. His characters were pieces of people we knew, people we had been, people we could be. I'm sad that he won't be making more movies to speak to a new generation, yet what he created will endure - because even though the hair & clothes & slang are dated, the voices & feelings are not.

"And in the end, I realized that I took more than I gave, I was trusted more than I trusted, and I was loved more than I loved. And what I was looking for was not to be found but to be made." ~
from She's Having A Baby, 1988