My mom recently moved into a house with less storage and so I have re-inherited all of the boxes of childhood memories that have been sitting in her basement for about fifteen years.
If you have been out of high school at least ten years, I will tell you that a very funny evening activity is to take your yearbook, look up boys you had crushes on or people who intimidated you and then find them on Facebook. Take note sophomore self-in fifteen years most of these guys you are losing sleep over will be someone's dad and you my dear will be quite fulfilled with what has happened in your own life.
High school was a funny time for me. I wanted what just about every adolescent girl wants-boys to like me and to be popular. I failed spectacularly on both fronts but reading my old yearbook messages, it is nice to remind myself that apparently I did have some good times and some fun friends.
So high school has been on my mind this week and then we watched Pirate Radio last night and that fabulous soundtrack got Otis Redding on my mind. Which obviously led to me looking up one of the greatest scenes in teen cinematic history-Duckie's performance of "Try a Little Tenderness" in "Pretty in Pink".
It has bothered me ever since I reached adulthood that Molly Ringwald's character ends up with the jerky rich kid at the end of this movie instead of the Duck-man. The story goes that the original plan was to end the movie with Andie and Duckie together but test audiences HATED that and so they changed it and she kisses Andrew McCarthy in the parking lot (one of the WORST kissing scenes EVER by the way). This after he was a complete loser and backed out on dating her because his popular friend disapproved. I get so mad every single time I watch it that audiences were so stupid in the 80's that they wanted her to end up with the rich, handsome dude at all costs. Any girl who was ever 16 and complaining about why the cutest boy in the 10th grade didn't notice her probably heard her mother say at least one hundred times, "you will be so surprised when the boys you think are nerds now turn out to be the best adults."
I watch Pretty in Pink now and I think that Duckie probably grew up to be a really interesting adult and Blane (Blane!!) is probably mostly bald and boring and having an affair with his secretary. Which is not to say that kids who were cool in high school are all lame adults. Pretty much all the rest of my siblings managed to climb about ten rungs higher on the teenage food chain than I ever did, but it is wildly interesting to me to look at where people are now and to see how little your High School popularity index has to do with, well, anything. But what also occurs to me when I watch that movie, or when I browse the old high school yearbooks, is that perhaps it's precisely the ratio of struggling to feel good about yourself you do at a young age that corresponds to how you "turn out". As Jack once told Liz on 30 Rock, "I don't know what happened to you as a child that led you to develop humor as a defense mechanism but I'm grateful for it."
I hope my future daughters realize that I'm going to be advocating for boys like the computer club president or the captain of some totally uncool sport. And probably teaching my sons to do a REALLY good Otis Redding impression.