Simplest Terms, Convenient Definitions

Dear Mr. Vernon: We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it is we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy for making us write an essay telling you who we think we are.

John Hughes bottled the cultural zeitgeist of teen angst before it turned midnight blue and blood red. Before Columbine, Cosmo Girl, and Ridalin, before Melissa Drexler, John Lewis, Dylan Klebold, and Eric Harris, there was Andy Clark, Brian Johnson, Allison Reynolds, Claire Standish, and John Bender, and times that appear a whole lot simpler now.

I was teetering on the edge of high school myself when ‘The Breakfast Club’ came out some twenty (gasp) years ago. I saw a midnight screening of the film tonight, and took a ride in the way-back machine…

I don’t remember much of high school, really, but I remember that nothing seemed simple then. I remember meladrama. I remember long, burning crushes. I remember foresight no further than that night or that weekend, at best. Everything was the end of the world.

I never felt like I belonged anywhere specific in high school. The measure of one’s popularity, I suppose, was in the lunchroom. I floated. Some days I sat with the art students or student council types, other days the jocks or the pretty girls. I lacked easily identifiable marks: no sports uniform, no Metallica patch-laden denim jacket, no hippie rags. I pretty much wear now what I wore then: jeans, a white T-shirt, button-down, and Chucks.

Looking back now, it seems like I was pretty comfortable with myself. But I wasn’t. I never lacked for a girlfriend, but always felt alone. I was elected to the Homecoming Court annually, but never quite knew how or why. I always smiled, but lacked confidence.

It was, in a word — well, two words — high school.

It has its legacy: the broken jaw baggage, the always-in-love syndrome, the populrity complex. But with time, my skin fits better and better, and these battered Chucks feel more and more comfortable. With time, what is apparent is what is shared more than what is not shared.

You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in 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.

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