There are certain things I love about growing up on a steady diet of John Hughes movies. I love that people used to say I reminded them of Molly Ringwald. It was totally accidental that I had the same haircut and dyed my hair red and practiced making my lips look as pouty as possible. All coincidences. I loved that the characters considered weirdos were always the ones who were the funniest and of course my favorites. I never did quite forgive Anthony Michael Hall for not actually BEING Farmer Ted. However, there’s a dark side to growing up hungrily devouring those movies, and others of that ilk, and no I’m not talking about poor Gedde Watanabe in the role of Long Duk Dong, a character that has been lambasted for portraying Asians in a less than flattering light.
I’m talking about Jake Ryan.
Jake Ryan Jake Ryan Jake Ryan. The man, the myth, the legend. Jake Ryan, who was so smitten with Molly Ringwald’s character Sam (after learning that she had a huge crush on him) that he tracked her down and just happens to find her looking probably the best she’s ever looked in her life,all dressed up in a gown that was not even super hideous, after being a bridesmaid in her sister’s wedding. Pink dress, flowers in her hair, absolutely glowing from head to toe, Sam walks down the stairs of the church to see cars clear as they head off to the Bohunks or Ricechex, whatever, reception, and there he is, Jake Ryan, leaning on his I’m too lazy to look it up but I’m sure it’s expensive red car. It doesn’t end there though, it ends with Jake and Sam sharing a kiss over a birthday cake with lit candles, while sitting on a glass table. Even when I watched it at the time I thought it was a bad idea. Now that I’m older, YIKES, that’s an embarrassing trip to the emergency room waiting to happen.
BUT, the table didn’t break and they didn’t end up in the emergency room with their asses full of glass or their eyebrows burned off. They kissed and presumably ended up having that timid yet hot teenaged sex I vaguely remember.
It’s so sweet and relatively easy, right? I like you, you like me, let’s jump into this thing together, shall we? I remember vividly how flushed I would get when I saw the guy I had a crush on and how I wanted more than anything for him to pull a Jake Ryan on me and just jump in with me. He didn’t.
Here’s the thing, somewhere along the way, things went from”let’s jump into this thing together” to “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her”. I assume it’s a natural progression that comes when life beats the hell out of you, or perhaps some sense into you, either one. I have reached the point where I realize there is no Jake Ryan and I’m tired of being just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her…um…me. To pull from another beloved character, the wise Yoda, “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try”. I feel like asking someone to love me is asking them to TRY to do something horrible. Like, this is going to be terrible, but hell, I might as well try to love her. No thank you.
After Sixteen Candles when I was in my 20′s, I would watch the original Beverly Hills 90201 with my then boyfriend who was an actual trained professional wrestler, though that word “professional” caused some confusion because he never got paid for it. Or anything actually. BUT, he was on the fast track to the big time, the WCW, or something. After we broke up, he had just signed a lucrative contract with some pro wrestling organization when he tragically wrecked his car and became paralyzed from the waist down. He is now confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.
Sadly, although the story about my ex-boyfriend sounds like a saucy story line from the show, it is an actual thing that happened. There was also baby mama drama, steroid use, pregnancy scares, family issues, and a hoarder, throughout our almost 3 year relationship. Drama, am I right?
Besides developing a deep appreciation for drama in general from watching 90210 and living my own version, though with much less money and a lot more mullets, I learned that if you can’t figure out what to wear you can’t go wrong with shorts, boots, a vest, and a choker and any combination thereof, I learned that the people who are considered the “smartest” can also make mistakes yet sometimes those mistakes are the most interesting things about them, and I also learned that there really are no people of color anywhere in Beverly Hills. Anywhere.
At this point in my life, I have come to the realization that Jake Ryan is truly a fictional character,that I am finished being a girl standing in front of a boy asking for anything other than a tall white chocolate latte, and that much like Kelly Taylor, when faced with the decision of her life, marrying Brandon Walsh or running off with Dylan McKay, I can always choose me. Choosing me over trying to convince someone that I’m worth loving is even better than mulleted heart-throbs fighting over the right to squire me around on the back of a motorcycle or putting a ring on my finger.
I don’t give up. I’ll never give up. I just realize that if my choices are 1) hope someone feels the same about me as I do them and jumps in, or 2) trying to convince someone that I’m worth jumping in for, that there is a third door, and that door is me, wearing shorts, boots, a vest, and a choker because really, that is a timeless look.