Big Wednesday, my friends

“…in the old days, I remember a wind that would blow down through the canyons.  It was a hot wind called a Santana, and it carried with it the smell of… warm places.  It blew the strongest before dawn, across the point.  My friends and I would sleep in our cars and the smell of the offshore wind would often wake us… and each morning, we knew this would be a special day…”

So begins the opening credits to Big Wednesday.  A rite of passage movie about friends and friendship starring Jan Michael Vincent, Gary Busey (a precursor to him becoming crazy), and William Katt (pre Greatest American Hero).  I can’t remember the first time I saw this movie, I just remember always loving it.  It captures that spirit of friendship and youth and the love and loss that is so powerful when we are experiencing the world for the first time.  Careening through life without a governor, without rules, and without caution.  It speaks to the way we come to understand what being a friend means.  What it should mean.  What it doesn’t.  At one point in the movie, Jack Barlow (William Katt) reluctantly partakes in a toast with his estranged friends.  “What are we drinking to?” he asks.  Bear (Sam Melville) touts,  “To nothing but your friends.  To your friends come hail or high water.”  It is the toast, the mantra of friendship. that brings a smile to Barlow’s face and reunites him with his dear friends, Matt Johnson (Jan Michael Vincent) and Leroy the Masochist (Gary Busey) in spite of their checkered history and old wounds.  It’s a universal theme.  If it were a beer it would be called St. Pauli’s Girl.  Cuz you never forget your first.  And those childhood friendships stay with us too don’t they?  They become the standard.  The nostalgic weight.  The classic memory.

And for me, as I follow the myriad of friends Facebook says I have and the myriad still outside the social media realm, I can’t help but get a little nostalgic about the ones who shaped and molded me growing up.  We’ve all got at least one that pops in our head even now as we ponder… The one who got in to trouble with us.  The one who dared us and we did it.  The one who pulled us back from where we didn’t need to be.  The one who dragged us where we thought we didn’t want to go.  Yeah.  We’ve all got at least one.  So let me just say ala the Bear, “To your friends come hail or high water!”  And with those words let new friends be included as well.  The ones who are there for us now as we live in our day to day.  The ones who know the value of a true friend because they remember their own impressionable moments once upon a time ago.  The ones who know who they are even as they read.  Am I getting too… sentimental.  Maybe.  But the truth is, friends are found in the most sentimental of places.  Right at the heart.

Sincerely Yours, the Breakfast Club

Every once in a while a movie phrase pops in my head, or a song quote or even a joke and I do my best to filter it before it manifests itself in casual conversation… for example, when somebody gets up from a chair in the room or from the table in a meeting, I inevitably channel John Bender from Breakfast Club and have an almost touretic urge to cry out, “How come Andrew gets to get up!  If he gets up, we’ll all get up, it’ll be anarchy!”  Whoa to those at the table who don’t get my Breakfast Clubisms,
but I really can’t help it.  I’ve been doing it since high school… just ask Andrew Alvarez from GHS.  Alright, that may be a little vain on my part to think he would remember, but then again it’s been twenty years and I still can’t keep myself from doing it.  Half the time I give in to the urge to call out.  I succumb to my tics.  The other half… the tics swell as though full of non-sequitor, type-A plasma drawn from the proverbial blood bank of movies, TV shows, and songs in my brain.  And when they do burst it’s oh so satisfying, like a popped pimple that’s splattered across the freshly windexed mirror.  Some are of course more satisfying than others.  I list a few of my favorites down below.  There is one, however that has never satisfied, and yet it pops in my head almost daily.  It’s another John Hughes quote (man, the guy was a genius when it came to movies) and it’s again from Breakfast Club.  I include it below for reference, but know this first.  As I type out the quote, the sense of un-relief builds relentlessly, for you see, the quote is a joke told by Judd Nelson’s character John Bender as he crawls through the duct work of the ceiling to distract himself from the precarious situation he’s put himself in.  He crashes through the ceiling before he ever gives the punchline:

John Bender:  “Naked blonde walks into a bar, poodle under one arm, two foot salami under the other.  Bar tender says, “I suppose you won’t be needing a drink.”  Naked blonde says… ” ?  ”

What does she say?  What.  Does.  She.  Say.  For the love of God, John Hughes, please tell me what she says.  I swore I would ask him one day, but then he died.  Please tell me the hidden punchline didn’t die with him?  I like to think that somebody out there knows how this joke finishes.  I know there are a few out there who could finish it on their own and write in their own punchline.  I beg you all.  I implore you all to give me the answer or at least post a comment with an alternative.  I like to think the Naked Blonde says, “Oh shit, I forgot my pencil.”  Why, you ask?  Because those are Bender’s next words in the movie so that’s all I’ve got to work with.  Do you have better?  Yes of course you do… please, tell me.  But still, if no one dares to project their own quirky humor into a feasible punchline so that I might find some relief then I’ll just have to go to plan B which is to see Mr. Hughes when I die.  Although even then, I picture him as difficult to get a hold of, so I’ll have to write him a letter asking for the punchline.  His response will of course be written in a letter because I’ll have given him a SASE – Self Addressed Stamped Envelope – to ensure he doesn’t slight me ( I guess my version of heaven is wanting when it comes to accessibility to celebs)  My favorite part will of course be the answer I’ve been waiting on for twenty years now.  That wonderful and mysterious punchline.  Because the truth is, we all need punchlines in life, no matter how long we have to wait for them.  Life’s just too…

I forgot to mention, my second favorite part of Hughes letter will be when he signs it.

Sincerely Yours, The Breakfast Club.

A Few Favorite Quotes for casual conversation:  Please share some of your own.
That kid’s getting on the escalator again! (MallRats)
Bird is the Word (song by Surfin Bird, Ornithological quote by Peter Griffin from Family Guy)
I am Gladiator (Gladiator)
Dishes are done!  (Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead)
Look at the brain on Brett! (Pulp Fiction)
Do you have any idea how disrespectful that is!  (Weird Science)
Damn Gina! (Martin)
And the List (Beat) goes on Dahda Duhm Dah Duhm Dahda (Eminem, Lose Yourself)