Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From Now and Then

When I was young, one of our favorite movies to watch was Stand By Me. It was my oldest brother’s favorite movie for a long time, and I was always jealous of it. I wanted a coming of age tale for girls! And then that glorious year 1995 brought me Now and Then. Now, this I could get behind (though I love Stand By Me, as well). I will never forget watching the movie at my cousin’s sleepover with two of her friends. Naturally, we were all assigned a character. I was “the fat girl,” because, well, I was the fat girl of the four of us. I will say, however, that personality wise? I am much more Roberta. Boys always had crushes on me (still do) and I was sassy and grew up with only brothers. I swore and did not keep anything neat and tidy (still don’t). These girls are like the original Sex and the City. Gah, best movie ever.

EINTKILF Now and Then

1. Fat girls can grow up to be Rita Wilson.
The other good thing about being a chubby little girl is you have potential to grow up and look like a movie star’s wife and for the rest of your life, people will tell you you look so good because they remember the days when you were pudgy. Also, Chrissy is the one with the most ideal life as adults—well, Roberta is alright too. Look at me, for example: I was a little fat girl once, and now I’m an egg white eatin’, single commitment-phobic Starbucks barista! Dreams do come true.

2. Breast is not a dirty word, smoking stunts your growth and men love pastels on a woman.
Speaking of Chrissy, her prudish behavior teaches us some great life lessons. I don’t know about pastels, but smoking definitely stunts your growth and you shouldn’t do it unless you like yellow teeth and dying at an early age. Seriously, guys? Are we still smoking cigarettes?

3. Cosmo hasn’t changed a day in its life.
Gotta love the scene with crazy brilliant weirdo Janeane Garofalo staring the little ones down as she serves them Coca-Cola floats. Teeny is quizzing the other girls about their sex type using an old school Cosmo. I flipped open my newest Cosmo (yes, I have a subscription, and no, I’m not ashamed of it) with Demi Lovato on the cover to find basically the exact same quiz. Kickin’ it old school, Cosmopolitan!

4. You can’t get pregnant from kissing!
Teeny asks Chrissy if she’s ever French kissed a boy before (PS: do we still say “French kiss”? If not, can we start again? It’s so exotic sounding!) and Chrissy freaks out, citing that she doesn’t want to get pregs. Everyone laughs, and she goes on to explain that “it’s common knowledge that if you tongue kiss a boy, he automatically thinks you’ll do the deed with him. He can’t help it: they’re driven. It’s the male curse.” I mean, maybe it sounds ridiculous, but Chrissy has a point. Have you ever French kissed a boy that didn’t want it to go farther? No. You haven’t. Watch it, ladies! You don’t want to get pregnant! (Unless you do. Then start tonguing!)

Ew. Tonguing is so much grosser sounding than French kissing. Sorry for that.

5. The friends that will give you mouth-to-mouth first are your true friends.
Also, the friend that will punch you across the face when you scare her half to death is your true friend. I would totally be the girl to give my friend mouth-to-mouth, even though I do not know how. I would also be the friend to break my friend’s ribcage trying to do that compression thing after the mouth part of CPR. Maybe I should just call the EMT or something.

6. Brendan Fraser can be sexy.
He trails in as a dirty, solider/transient man, offers little girls cigarettes and gives them all some great advice: “you can believe in yourself. If you’re lucky.”

Chrissy (another reason I am so not Chrissy—I am never mean to hot boys!) is a total brat to him, sassing him about things you should never sass a stranger about. When she accuses him of being a hippie, and thus a sex fiend, Brendan Fraser tells her something that he wishes his parents had told him when he was young: “your parents aren’t always right.”

another reason I’m not Chrissy. I pretty much never thought my parents were right.

7. Do not sass a badass feminist.
My favorite part of the movie, besides when Roberta kisses that Wormer boy, is when she kicks the living daylights out of that jerk who tells her to go home and play with her dolls. The really great part is when Samantha attacks him for insulting Roberta’s dead mother. Lesson? Don’t mess with girls, and even more so, do not mess with their friends. Loyalty goes a long way.

                                             Also, don’t tape your boobs. Embrace your curves.

8. There are no perfect families.
As Samantha says, “it’s normal for things to be shitty” in families. Sam’s parents are the first parents anyone has heard of actually getting a divorce. She keeps it a secret for awhile, but eventually, she tells her friends and they make a pact to be there for each other for the rest of their lives. Maybe in the 70’s (when the childhood part of the movie takes place), we pretended that families were all “normal,” but in the 90’s, we totally embraced broken, dysfunctional families. That’s one point toward our generation: single parent families were totally commonplace. I mean, raise your hands if your parents are divorced. It’s basically expected.

9. Crazy old men have feelings too.
I swear, a movie isn’t a great movie unless there is some mysterious old person that has a huge heart but you are supposed to fear for most of the movie. (Hello, Home Alone!) Ol’ Pete is the father of the dead little boy that the girls keep trying to contact during their séances. He saves Sam’s life, and when she thanks him (a million years after he actually saves her, BTDub), he gives her some great advice: “things will happen in your life that you can’t stop, but that’s no reason to shut out the world. There’s a purpose for the good and for the bad.”

And ain’t that the truth? I’ma get real with you for a second. There really is a purpose for the good and the bad things that happen in life. Have you ever met someone that has had a pretty peachy keen life and they irritate you with their optimism and naiveté? When nothing bad happens to you, you learn nothing. My life sucked and it is why I am brilliant. DON’T RUN FROM STUFF, KTHANKS PETE.

10. “If you don’t fall in love, you can’t get hurt.”
“But it sure is lonely all by yourself.”

I love this part, at the end, in the tree house, while all the ladies are cooing over Chrissy’s new born babe. Sam hits us with the pessimistic, but relatable opinion that falling in love is for masochists, and then Roberta (that’s my girl!) hits her back with some stone cold truth: who wants to be alone forever? This conversation plays in my head pretty much over and over every day of my life. “Yeah, falling in love is for babies, Jess.” “But Jess, do you really want to be stuck sleeping with your stuffed animal for the rest of your life? She isn’t even life sized!” The good and bad angels on my shoulders are played by Demi Moore and Rosie O’Donnell. Welcome to how weird my mind is.

I think the lesson here is “be vulnerable,” but I have lost track because I’ve sent myself into a spiral of confusion and meltdown-ness because I am pretty sure I am going to die alone, but at least I will never get hurt.

This move is so great. If you have daughters, make sure they watch this movie, even if there are super outdated references, like Chrissy’s excitement over the VCR in Teeny’s limo on the way to the hospital. Also, I didn’t mention how hot Devon Sawa is, so I’m just going to lump it  in right about here. And remember kids, it is only when you embrace your past that you truly move forward.

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