Deep Words… by John Hughes

26 Jul

With the one-year anniversary of John Hughes’ death approaching, I thought I’d post some famous quotes from the man behind some of the best-loved high school movies ever made.  Hughes’ “Brat Pack” films spoke to the angst of teenage awkwardness, and from the ’80s on, they became soundtracks for our own middle and high school experiences.  He didn’t sugarcoat the average American teenager, but rather exposed them as smart, sensitive, funny, and aware, which viewers can pick up immediately from his simple, yet poignantly written dialogue.  Take a trip through memory lane with these quotes.  Which one sparks a memory for you?

Sixteen Candles

“I can’t believe my grandmother actually felt me up.” — Samantha

“Relax, would you? We have 70 dollars and a pair of girl’s underpants. We’re safe as kittens.” — The Geek

“I really love Rudy. He is totally enamored of me. I mean, I’ve had other men love me before, but not for six months in a row.” –Ginny Baker

“What was he wearing? Well, uh, let’s see, he was wearing a red argyle sweater, and tan trousers, and red shoes… No, he’s not retarded.” –Howard Baker

I loathe the bus. There has to be a more dignified mode of transportation.” –Samantha

“By night’s end, I predict me and her will interface.”

Breakfast Club

“Could you describe the ruckus, sir?” — Brian Johnson

“Hey, homeboy, what do you say we close that door, we’ll get the prom queen impregnated.” — John Bender

“Two hits. Me hittin’ you, you hittin’ the floor.”

“Screws fall out all the time. The world’s an imperfect place.”

“Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?” –John Bender

“I wanna be just like you. I figure all I need is a lobotomy and some tights.”

“Hey, how come Andrew gets to get up? If he gets up, we’ll all get up, it’ll be anarchy.”

“Face it. You’re a neo maxi zoom dweebie, what would you be doing if you weren’t out making yourself a better citizen?” –John Bender

“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.” — Andrew Clark

“I don’t think that from a legal standpoint what he did can be construed as rape, since I paid him.” –Allison Reynolds

I hate it. I hate having to go along with everything my friends say.” –Claire

Well, Brian, this is a very nutritious lunch. All the food groups are represented. Did your mom marry Mr. Rogers?” –Bender

“Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain … and an athlete … and a basket case … a princess … and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.” –Brian Johnson

Pretty in Pink

“His name is Blane? Oh! That’s a major appliance, that’s not a name!” — Duckie

“I know I’m old enough to be his mother, but when the Duck laid that kiss on me last night, I swear my thighs just went up in flames. He must practice on melons or something.” –Iona

“Love’s a bitch, Duck.  Love’s a bitch.” –Iona

“This is an incredibly romantic moment, and you’re ruining it for me!” –Duckie

“I am now, and will forever be, a Duckman.” –Duckie

Ferris Buehler’s Day Off

“The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It’s a good non-specific symptom; I’m a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a good phony fever is a dead lock, but, uh… you get a nervous mother, you could wind up in a doctor’s office. That’s worse than school. You fake a stomach cramp, and when you’re bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It’s a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school.” –Ferris Buehler

“Pardon my French, but Cameron is so tight that if you stuck a lump of coal up his ass, in two weeks you’d have a diamond.” — Ferris Bueller

“If whoever was in this house is still in the house, I’d like you to know that I’ve just called the police. I’d also like to add that I’ve got my father’s gun and a scorching case of herpes.” — Jeannie Bueller

“I do have a test today, that wasn’t bullshit. It’s on European socialism. I mean, really, what’s the point? I’m not European. I don’t plan on being European. So who gives a crap if they’re socialists? They could be fascist anarchists, it still doesn’t change the fact that I don’t own a car.” — Ferris Bueller

“Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” –Ferris Buehler

“Ferris, he never drives it! He just rubs it with a diaper!” –Cameron Frye

“Look, it’s real simple. Whatever mileage we put on, we’ll take off… We’ll drive home backwards.” –Ferris Buehler

“You killed the car.”

“Excuse me: if whoever was in this house is still in the house, I’d like you to know that I’ve just called the police. I’d also like to add that I’ve got my father’s gun and a scorching case of herpes.”

“Bueller? … Bueller? … Bueller?” –Economic Teacher

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Room for a Square: Aleithia Burgess

23 Jul

Prom, makeovers, dating, L.J. McCoolster, and “Cleaning Up Good”… an essay by Aleithia Burgess

It’s the day before New Year’s Eve in the north-east of Scotland, where I currently live as a grad student. I’m sitting alone in my flat, like I’ve done for the better part of the last two weeks. (Apparently I missed the memo informing me that winter vacation means everyone vacates.) Faced with the prospect of spending tomorrow with only a blanket, an assortment of DVDs, and a bottle of Cab Sauv for company, I find myself longing for a simpler, happier time when studying and socializing actually coexisted. Not only do I miss college, this present situation is almost bad enough to make me miss high school. Don’t get me wrong, high school sucked for me as much as the next person, but now that I’m a good couple of years removed from all the angst and drama and incredibly pointless homework, I have this warped sense of nostalgia for things like school dances. Okay, so not actually the dances: gymnasiums filled with tacky decorations, crappy music and raging hormones. But at least they were an opportunity to dress up.

Let’s be clear on this, for me, high school was strange and largely unpleasant . My father’s company transferred him twice during that time, which meant that I ended up attending three schools in three states. Such mobility would likely put a damper on any teen’s social life, but I was also awkwardly introverted, uncomfortably intelligent, naïvely conservative, and a hopelessly bad dresser—in short, your standard female nerd. Sadly, female nerds are doubly as pitiable as the male ones because they simply don’t stand a snowball’s chance with the opposite sex. Boy nerds can grow up to find lucrative careers in computers or engineering, which enable them to attract a girlfriend with wealth. But, and let’s be honest here, if guys don’t choose girls based solely on appearances, looks nevertheless play a significant role. I absolutely despise those teen rom-coms about the nerdy girl who gets a makeover—remove glasses; untie and straighten hair; add makeup, tan and plunging neckline—and then proceeds to wow the crowd and win the heart of the attractive jock who never noticed her before. But I also fear that they make a point about reality. In fact, I know that they do, because I myself lived it.

I find it terribly ironic that the closest I came to having a “normal” high school experience was senior prom, the cheesiest of all high school clichés. It was the only school dance I ever actually attended; I would have gone to the winter dance that year as well, but it had been cancelled due to an ice storm. My date was even my boyfriend, John, whom I’d actually managed to procure before said makeover, around the end of first semester. How this came about, I’m not entirely sure. We did get along pretty well, though I suspect that our being the only two in our group of friends who weren’t otherwise attached may have had something to do with our getting together. Anyway, when John asked me to be his prom date I was elated, but also a little nervous, since that meant I would have to tell my mother. In retrospect, I don’t think I actually admitted to either of my parents that he was my boyfriend until after we’d broken up. I’m sure my mother, a reasonably perceptive woman, had put the pieces together— I did need permission to go on dates—but I was embarrassed about using the “boyfriend”/“girlfriend” labels, even when talking with friends. Still am, come to think of it, though I haven’t been in a relationship in a long time.

It took me a couple of days to pluck up the courage, but finally I told my mom that John had asked me to prom. Having been expecting the matter to come up, she’d already discussed it with my dad, and they decided it was okay. Next order of business: what did I want to do about a dress? I knew better than to ask my parents to buy me one—we didn’t have the money. Besides, I had looked at the dresses for sale in the mall department stores, and nothing in particular caught my eye. But I had a solution: since my mother was good at sewing, I wanted her to make a dress for me. She was quite pleased with that idea, and so we set about finding the right pattern and material.

That year, long strapless gowns with poofy skirts in pale colors were the trend, but I was never one to follow trends. I wanted slim, spaghetti straps, and black, so that’s what we did. It ended up being a top and skirt, and we found this lovely Japanese silk with a pattern of multicolored moths to use for the top and a matching wrap. Now, I don’t want to hear any male readers complaining about my taking time to describe my toilet, because the truth is that a girl’s prom dress is at least as important as her date, if not more so. Boys, it would benefit you to learn a thing or two about women’s fashion; as Jane Austen points out in Northanger Abbey, a gentleman who possesses an understanding of muslins cannot be wholly disagreeable. Anyway, I was thoroughly pleased with how my dress turned out, and I still think it’s nice. Last time I was at my parents’ house, I found it in the back of a closet and tried it on, just for kicks. Only a little tight now, I’m sorry not to have a use for it.

For my hair, I knew I would need professional help. By the time I was in high school, I did have my hair cut at a proper salon, though I doubt most people would have thought so. My hair is naturally curly, but curly hair hasn’t been cool in high school since the ‘80s. I tried fighting it, but without much effect. I haven’t uploaded any “before” photos, hoping to spare myself potential embarrassment, but take my word for it, my high school style left a few things to be desired. Fortunately, I was in need of a haircut anyway, so I decided I’d have it trimmed and styled the morning of prom. In theory, this was a good idea: hair usually looks nice the day of a cut because the stylist puts about fifteen different products on it; then you shower the next day and it goes back to normal.

Unfortunately, what I had neglected to consider was the possibility of a bad haircut. Apparently two months’ advance notice was insufficient for scheduling a prom appointment; my usual stylist was already booked solid for the day, so I agreed to take an opening with someone else. I don’t know if the miscommunication was on my end or the beautician’s, but when she spun my chair around to look in the mirror, the face staring back at me had the coiffure of an eighty-year-old poodle: puffy, fluffy, and very, very short. (Note to aspiring hairstylists: when you have a client with already curly hair, it’s not terribly effective to blow dry the hair straight and then use a curling iron.)

As I made for the door, trying desperately to contain my tears (remember, this is trauma for a teenager), my usual stylist happened to walk past. One look at me, and she was ushering me over to her chair with assurances that she could fix it. She was as good as her word. With a rinse, some fresh product, and half a million bobby pins, she made my hair look the best it ever has, before or since. And if that wasn’t enough, she asked the girl at the makeup counter—a sweet girl who was actually in the same year as me at school, though we ran in very different circles—if she might test a couple of their new products on my complexion. Needless to say, someone got a very nice tip.

Fast forward about six hours. It was time to put all the pieces together: dress, hair, makeup; no tan, but I’ve got skin to make Bella Swan and Twilight fangirls everywhere brown with envy. The doorbell rang as I was adding jewelry; I only had time for a cursory glance in the mirror before hurrying down the stairs. Someone had opened the door for John, but he hadn’t yet stepped inside when he saw me. He stopped, and gave me an full up-down look. Not ogling, he would’ve been too polite, and my family was standing there, but it was certainly enough to be noticeable. We exchanged pleasantries and flowers, and then John and I and my parents all departed for the house of a friend where our group was to assemble and take photos.

“You look amazing,” he told me three or four times on the way over.

“Thanks, you look great yourself,” I replied, both pleased and embarrassed by the attention.

That was only the beginning. As we approached the house, I could see some of our friends already congregated on the lawn, a fashionable-looking crowd of pastels and tuxedo black, along with some of the parents. John parked, we got out of the car, and began walking up the long driveway toward them. It took a couple of moments for people to notice we had arrived, and then everyone just kind of stopped. (That’s how it’s supposed to go, right, the big entrance, all drawn-out and dramatic? It might as well have been in slow-mo.) After an eternity that was probably only three or four seconds, my good friend Lezlie broke the awkward silence by rushing forward to give me a hug: “Aleithia-a-a! I love your dress!” Excitedly, we all complimented one another, but I’d be lying if I said that my date and I weren’t the center of attention. The one I distinctly remember: “Aleithia, you clean up good!”

Nerd that I was, I couldn’t help comparing myself to Hermione Granger in the fourth Harry Potter book, when she shows up to the Yule Ball and Harry and Ron don’t immediately recognize her because she’s dressed up. But that’s exactly how it happened to me. When we assembled to take pictures, it was still daylight, and so there was no trouble in distinguishing one person from another. Once we actually made it to the prom, which I’m happy to say was held not in the school gym but at the convention center in downtown OKC, it was a different story. Maybe it was the expensive food everyone had eaten for dinner, or maybe it was the general party atmosphere, but people didn’t seem to know who I was. I don’t think John and I danced more than two dances; we were having far too much fun walking up to people and watching their surprised expressions when they realized who I was.

Of all the people I met that night, two stand out most clearly in my mind. The first was Ms. Cloy, my AP Lit teacher. Ms. Cloy was, without a doubt, one of the most interesting, and ultimately endearing, teachers that year. She had a classic Mississippi drawl, which we’d fallen in love with while reading The South and the Fury, a strong personality and a colorful past—just how many she’d been divorced and remarried was a subject of great speculation amongst the senior class. We were all looking forward to her being at prom, because she had told us that she would be bringing her trucker boyfriend, Mr. Blake. With his Stetson and handlebar moustache, Mr. Blake did not disappoint, but I think Ms. Cloy got an even bigger kick out of seeing all of us. John and I caught up to her near the punch table. Ms. Cloy greeted John, glanced at me, and did the double take that by now I’d become accustomed to. We chatted for a minute or two, and then as we were about to move on, she pulled me aside for just a moment. Smiling broadly, Ms. Cloy patted my shoulder and whispered, “Good for you. You’re knockin’ ‘em dead, girl!” That was about the biggest compliment I had ever received from anyone.

Well, it was the biggest compliment until the other memorable encounter, with the one L.J. McCoolster: good looking, class president, valedictorian, and captain of the swim team. (I hear he’s in med school and engaged now, neither of which surprises me.) He knew who I was because we had several classes together, and in truth he was a nice enough guy, but because we were in very different circles, the only reason we would’ve had a conversation was if we had been put in the same chem lab group or debate side in government. So, when I made my way over to say hi that night, I had done so intending to speaking to his date., Lara Actually, she was one of a few people who recognized me instantly, and she greeted me quite casually and cheerfully. Clearly, she didn’t seem to think it out of the realm of possibility that I might “clean up good.”

“Aleithia, John, it’s great to see you guys!” Lara shouted above the noise of the band and the crowd. “L.J., say hi to John and Aleithia!” She tugged at his sleeve, as he was turned the other way, talking to somebody else.

“Hey John, hey Aleithia—Aleithia?!” When we made eye contact, L.J.’s jaw dropped visibly. He stood there, staring at me, genuinely struck speechless. After a moment, L.J. finally managed a long, drawn out, and (I believe) sincerely intended, “Da-a-ang!” Shooting me a knowing smile, Lara led him away, as John and I laughed hysterically, right there in the middle of the dance floor.

Prom was six years ago. Not such a long time, really, though it feels like an eternity. You might think me silly or sentimental, but I still think about that incident when I’m in need of a confidence boost. Seriously, if I could impress L.J. McCoolster, then I think it’s safe to say that I have the potential to make an impact people at least as important as senior class president. So many of us are our own harshest critic, and I think we all need a “Da-a-ang!” or two to help put ourselves into perspective.

Only four years ‘til the first reunion. I should start planning my outfit now.

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Purple Shorts: Mike Wanless

23 Jul

That’s me in the purple shorts, 1986. Oh man, all the stupid crazy shit I did back then inspires all my writing and art that I do today.

— Mike Wanless

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