Lately, I feel like I have been living in a John Hughes film. My teenage son is experiencing those milestones that come with being a senior in high school. College acceptances, exams, prom, and graduation. He recently broke up with his girlfriend. It was like the end of the world of doom and gloom. Endless hours of tears, teen angst, and conversation.
It turned into: “Now I don’t have a date for prom!” No worries, your posse of boys are on it. Sam offered his elder spinster cousin, whom he informed us: “Was forty but could easily pass for 39.” Apparently, she enjoyed getting dressed up and had been on several prom dates throughout the years (I wonder if I should send Chris Hansen’s Dateline- to catch a predator an email?)
Max had the answer: Confidently proclaiming: “Why don’t you sign up on Tinder? ” Although he did share that his older brother had a less than stellar experience when he met a woman who was(Max’s words) “Ancient like fifty!” and had to leave the restaurant early because her kids were in the car.
I observe these boys, old enough(according to our government-NOT according to me!) to enroll in the military, drive a car, and drink(if they lived overseas). Yet, realistically they cannot find their way out of a paper bag! They are children.
I announce: “No one is getting their prom date off Tinder, from an old cousin, or any other nincompoop idea!” They look at me like I am one of those crazy cat ladies who doesn’t have a clue.
Julian suggests we put an ad on Craigslist. (How the HELL did these kids get into Ivy League schools?!) After I lecture them on the dangers of Craigslist and make them watch that Lifetime movie: “The Craigslist Killer,” to drive home my point, I decide to hold an impromptu John Hughes film fest in our home. I select, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Buellers day off, and The Breakfast Club. I put on my teacher hat and explain that teenage life and angst have been around forever! WAY before Google, cell phones, Instagram, Tik Tok, Tinder, Twitter, YouTube, etc… and we survived! Solved our own problems and just figured it out. They look at me on my soapbox and text each other, albeit sitting next to one another. I snatch my son’s phone and, in all caps, he has written in the group text MENOPAUSE!
I like Michele Obama says: “When they go low, we go high!” and ignore this judgment from the Peanut Gallery. I start with Ferris Bueller, which they actually enjoy and sit through. Once in a while, comments about: “What’s that?”(about the good old landline wall phone! the clothes and hairstyles,) I feel like I am a narrator from National Geographic, depicting the accounts and lifestyle of a long ago, forgotten tribe called “The 80’s”. (In a whisper like the commentators at one of those golf events:) “Ferris Bueller AKA, Matthew Broderick, whom FYI is now an almost sixty-year-old man, is speaking on a LANDLINE phone. It is attached to the wall or placed on a desk. The person on the phone can only go as far as the cord is long.” I whisper, watching their eyes become even larger; at this tidbit of info. I move on to Sixteen Candles, and they again laugh at the ridiculous phone scenarios and are shocked that we actually had Home-Ec and Shop as classes in school. Remarks are thrown out there about the “lame” situations. Laughter at “the absurd wardrobes, slang words, and phrases: “gnarly, Geek, Gag me with a spoon!, Eat my shorts!” is mentioned.
We move on to The Breakfast Club. I receive looks of horror as I sing along with Simple Minds: “Don’t you forget about me!” song. (Do NOT tell me when you hear that song, you don’t dance and sing along too!) Again, the Peanut Gallery chimes in with their opinions. My entire reason for this homage to John Hughes films is to show that it doesn’t matter what era, teen uncertainty and emotions are the same! That you will survive this.
The crescendo is Pretty In Pink and the timeless dilemma of “NO PROM DATE!” I try to infuse this wisdom by pointing out how all along, Duckie, the reliable friend, was there to help Andie in her time of need. That, sometimes you don’t have to look too far. (or on Tinder, Craigslist, etc.. to find what you are looking for!) It can be right next to you!” I smile triumphantly as I state my case.
I am met with stone-cold silence and looks of confusion. The boys give each other side-eye. Within minutes a verbal argument breaks out about “Who is Duckie in their group and has to go to prom with my son?!”
I observe the Peanut Gallery and their debate of nonsense and realize all of the things we went through as teens, and it was the same emotions. Yet, we didn’t have all of this technological interference.
We went to prom in groups, packed in the way, way, backs of station wagons or a friend’s father had a funeral parlor, so a limo with the funeral home sign stuck on the side, advertising the funeral parlor.
Prom dresses were found in thrift stores or on sale from Sears and JC Penny. Some made in Home-ec class. A borrowed tux from an uncle repurposed from a Bar mitzvah. We had the same worries, but because of the times, it wasn’t so blatant and public.
Maybe we were fortunate enough to have one of those Instamatic cameras, or someone’s mom or dad had a good camera and would develop the film for everyone. These moments are fleeting, and instead of the what if’s, they should just be savoring each occasion. Not worrying about all of this other stuff. Enjoying the moment at hand.
I leave the boys with these quotes of wisdom from the immortal and brilliant Ferris Bueller:
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”