Everything I need to know, I learned from ‘Stand By Me’

Well kids. It is the end of summer. Maybe you are like me and you are just super stoked that fall is upon us, or maybe you are the total opposite of me, and in that case, I will never understand you people. No matter how you spin it, the mornings feel colder, leaves are falling, and my birthday has passed—all signs of the impending next season. I took a brief Twitter poll and asked people which movie reminded them of the end of summer. The overwhelming answer was Stand By Me, and the fact that I have never written about it before shocked me. So here we are.


1. Being 12 is the best.
Maybe you guys didn’t love being 12-years-old as much as I did, but I really, really loved it. I met all of my best friends when I was 12, and sure, we are all not as close as we were then, but this is exactly what Stand By Me is about. If you are a human being with feelings, this movie will at least choke you up with nostalgia, even if you and your best friends never had an excursion to find a dead body.

And, as Vern states as they all sit around talking about the Mickey Mouse Club, “This is really a good time.”

2. Train tracks are dangerous.
Okay duh, but I have also had a fear of train tracks for basically all of my life, and is it this movie’s fault? YES because it came out the year before I was born and naturally we watched it often as kids. I am not a daredevil person, and I wasn’t a daredevil kid, and even though we always lived very close to train tracks, I was never tempted to go play chicken with a HUGE MOVING TRAIN TEDDY. (Don’t do it guys.)

3. Always remember the food.
All I’m saying is if you are about to embark on a couple day journey to go do anything, make sure you remember the food so you have more than seven cents to go to the grocery store.

4. Things are not always as they seem.
Like all coming-of-age stories in the late ’80s / early ’90s, there is the element of a big, scary dog in Stand By Me. The boys swap stories about Chopper, a terrifying dog in a scary old man’s yard. Sound familiar? While Stand By Me did come before The Sandlot, Chopper happens to be incredibly less terrifying than “The Beast.” When the boys actually encounter Chopper (who does not, well, sic their you-know-whats), Gordie learns a huge life lesson that we should all be reminded of from time to time.

5. Everybody is weird.
Gordie and Chris have the closest relationship between the four boys. Chris understands how hard Gordie’s life has been since his older brother passed away, and Gordie understands how tragic Chris’ life is in general (deadbeat, neglectful, abusive parents). The boys have an incredibly sweet relationship and among their best moments is when Chris assures Gordie that yeah, he thinks he’s a weirdo, but who cares because everybody is weird. And how true is that?

6. No one should judge children.
On my notes while watching this movie earlier in the week, I have scribbled, “Don’t judge children!!!” with about a thousand exclamation points. I don’t remember exactly where that passionate reaction came from, but I am pretty sure it is about Chopper’s dad being super mean to Teddy and Chris. He basically berates them for their fathers’ life choices, which is the worst thing you can do to a child. Stupid old mean man. YOU ARE NOTHING LIKE THE BEAST’S DAD. (I can’t help it if this movie reminds me of The Sandlot you guys.)

7. You are only young once.
Cliche, sure, but also very true. Similarly to the “this is really a good time” thought, being young is something that should be treasured. What I love about Stand By Me is that the boys all come from kind of a hard-knock life. Whatever is happening with Teddy’s dad and his delusions about Normandy, Chris’ awful home-life, and Gordie’s neglect since his favored older brother passed are all very realistic situations—but it shouldn’t stop you from being a kid.

8. Support your friends.
Like I have pointed out, Gordie and Chris are the BFFs of the group, and it goes beyond calling each other weird. Gordie and Chris are really protective of one another. Gordie basically almost kills a bully for beating on Chris, which isn’t really Gordie’s brand, but this is what friends are for! Beside that, in one of the most touching motifs throughout the film, Chris is very encouraging of Gordie’s passion for writing. He encourages him numerous times to pursue his writing dreams, which is a really mature and touching thing for a child to do for another child. Chris jokes that one day Gordie might be hard up enough to write about their friendships and their dead body seeking adventure. Of course, the entire film is the narration of Gordie’s book about exactly that. Good call, sweet Chris.

9. Goofy may or may not be a dog.
But seriously, one of the best scenes is when the boys are sitting around reflecting on the important things in life and Goofy comes up.

But seriously, is he a dog? And also is anything better than sitting around with your friends talking about the things that matter not at all to anyone? Nope. That’s the good stuff.

10. Some friendships are for life.
When watching a movie like Stand By Me, it is impossible not to reflect on your own friendships, your own childhood, and your own present-day life. The end of the movie brings the wrap-up that we need but don’t want to hear. Chris and Gordie remained close past their high school years with Chris even taking college courses with Gordie (something that was not written in the stars for him). Though they remained friendly, Teddy and Vern moved on from the group, getting married and having kids and such. The saddest part of the reflection comes with the realization that Chris was killed intervening in a knife fight later in life, something made even more upsetting considering River Phoenix died too young exactly like one of his most iconic characters. But when you are friends with someone—especially at such a young age—they remain with you forever. People that change your life stick with you, no matter what happens as you lose your youth and enter the adult world. Remember that and spend some time reflecting on those dear, life-changing friendships.

Featured image , Goofy image via.