Saturday, August 8, 2009

Before There Were Blogs: John Hughes Edition

Not...Done...Yet. While it may be clear that this blog is on its last legs with the obvious lack of posting of late, the reason for its initial existence has not faded. It's to share stories, articles, news clippings, and videos that inspire three guys to pause their day for a few moments and reach out to whomever is paying attention. And that's where I am at right now.

So perusing the web obsessively as I do (I think I need to get sent to one of those Chinese Internet addiction places) I came across this very well written blog post about a women who put pen to paper and wrote to John Hughes on a whim back in 1985. That's right kids, I said used a pen on paper. It's these two artifacts that old people used to utilize to communicate their words. So she poured her heart out about her thoughts and feelings about being a high school student and being misunderstood. Just like the kids in The Breakfast Club. And she put the letter in the mail...and she waited. And she got a dreaded form letter back initially. And that just wasn't good enough. John ultimately agreed. And so they developed a multi-year writing relationship with a phone call mixed in for good measure. These are her words:

I was babysitting for my mom's friend Kathleen's daughter the night I wrote that first fan letter to John Hughes. I can literally remember the yellow grid paper, the blue ball point pen and sitting alone in the dim light in the living room, the baby having gone to bed.

I poured my heart out to John, told him about how much the movie mattered to me, how it made me feel like he got what it was like to be a teenager and to feel misunderstood.

(I felt misunderstood.)

I sent the letter and a month or so later I received a package in the mail with a form letter welcoming me as an "official" member of The Breakfast Club, my reward a strip of stickers with the cast in the now famous pose.

I was irate.

I wrote back to John, explaining in no uncertain terms that, excuse me, I just poured my fucking heart out to you and YOU SENT ME A FORM LETTER.

That was just not going to fly.

He wrote back.

"This is not a form letter. The other one was. Sorry. Lots of requests. You know what I mean. I did sign it."

He wrote back and told me that he was sorry, that he liked my letter and that it meant a great deal to him. He loved knowing that his words and images resonated with me and people my age. He told me he would say hi to everyone on my behalf.
Maybe I'm just being nostalgic, but this concept that you have a strong urge to write your thoughts on a piece of paper and lick a stamp and put it in the mail, knowing full well the intended recipient may never receive it or worse they could blow you off, is fascinating and reminds me so much of what life was like without the WWW.

Her feeling a need to connect to John Hughes is no different than a blog poster or commenter writing an entry never knowing if anyone will care. It's the writing part that is cathartic. Any feedback or acknowledgment thereafter is just gravy. Getting back to our John Hughes fan, their (not e-) mail relationship blossomed, they became heavy pen pals, and the reclusive John Hughes let her into his world. Please take a minute to read through the whole entry she wrote. It is fascinating, and of course all too sad knowing that John is no longer with us. John ruminates on a number of things and provides unprecedented insight into why he left Hollywood for good so many years ago. And if you want to take a chance and leave a comment, whether to connect or leave your thoughts, feel free. No stamps required.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing, in a world spiriling so out of control at times, that a simple, kind, old fashioned relationship with paper and pen (not a keyboard in view) can be so moving and so meaningful to someone , Cool story and a great guy whose genius mattered to us all

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