Friday, August 7, 2009

Those Crazy Teenage Years . . .

. . . were made so much easier with John Hughes' films.

Pretty in Pink. Sixteen Candles. Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The Breakfast Club.

These movies are woven into the fabric of my teen years. I can quote them with ease, just like everyone else who came of age in the 1980s.

My experience may have been just a little different though.

All of the John Hughes movies were filmed around Chicago in a town named Shermer, Illinois. Shermer doesn't exist, but John Hughes grew up in the North Shore Chicago suburb of Northbrook and graduated from Glenbrook North High School on Shermer Road.

The church used for the wedding in Sixteen Candles is Glencoe Union Church in Glencoe, another North Shore town, is the church my Gardner grandparents were members of for years, my Aunt Barb and Uncle Jeff were married there, and my grandparents' ashes are buried there in the memorial garden. And just like Anthony Michael Hall's character, I've made out in the park across the street from the church. (It was years ago and I won't tell you with whom). Every girl loved and lusted after Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles in high school. My 2-year high school boyfriend looked just like him. Yes, I was a lucky girl.

Sixteen Candles - Final Scene - Movie Ending - The most amazing home videos are here

Ferris Bueller's Day Off . . . I don't even know where to begin. We all wished we'd had a friend like Ferris who would push us to take chances and have more fun than we ever imagined, but somehow never really got caught. Ferris taught us all the most important lesson of them all. "Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

Freshman year at Lake Forest College, there was a woman who lived next door to me who looked almost exactly like Mia Sara (Sloan Peterson, Ferris' girlfriend). The rumor mill around campus was that it was her, but it wasn't.

Who among us couldn't identify with the characters of The Breakfast Club? The jock, the misfit, the nerd, the princess, the wastoid. They were each of us and we were each of them. They taught us that no matter what clique we belonged to, there was far more than united us than divided us.

Yes, these were the movies of my youth. The movies I watch over and over and over again no matter how many times I've seen them, how old I get, how many curse words are bleeped, or how many commercials I must suffer through. John Hughes' films told us we were normal and that the angst we all experienced wasn't unique to us and our individual social standing.

When I worked at Lake Forest Food and Wine in Lake Forest during college, John Hughes used to come in all the time. He was the nicest, humblest guy. In fact, I didn't even realize it was him at first until the store owner told me after he'd left the first time. He didn't have that air that of self-importance that highly successful people with gobs of money sometimes have. He was truly an everyman. And he will be missed.

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