Everything I need to know, I learned from 'My Girl'
Because I had a terrible head cold / flu situation the last few days, I was home a lot last week. Which means I took some sick days, and worked from home some of the days. Which means, I watched a lot of television. Which means, I watched a lot of Veep. Which means I have been thinking about Anna Chlumsky a lot. Which means it’s about time to write about the movie that she starred in that broke all of our hearts: My Girl. Here’s why everything I need to know, I learned from My Girl
Being a hypochondriac is stressful
Our protagonist Vada Sultenfuss (played by the effervescent Anna Chlumsky) is a textbook hypochondriac. I could not be more the opposite. My sympathy is with her even though I am the Monica Geller of hypochondriacs—basically refusing to admit I am sick, even when my voice is gone and a fever is making me so delirious I forget how to pronounce words. But because of her upbringing—her mother passed away young and father is a mortician—Vada believes she is dying all of the time. It is stressful, for a child and for a child’s parent. My thoughts are with you, hypochondriacs.
You don’t have to get married to be a grown-up
Thomas J. (hi, Macauley Culkin!) and Vada have arguably the cutest friendship in all of the 90s. When the children are discussing why people want to get married (since Vada’s dad is remarrying and she isn’t super into it), Thomas J. says something that we ALL struggle with: “When you get older, you just have to.”
It takes a long time to realize that marriage, as wonderful as it is for many people, isn’t necessarily the default. You could be deeply in love and never want to walk down the aisle. You could be waiting to find the one. Every adult’s choice on that matter is just as valuable as any other ones. Sorry, Thomas J. You actually don’t have to. (But we really like you anyway!)
Speaking your mind is important
Even from a very young age, Vada is one opinionated little girl. She uses big words, she sasses all adults including her father, and she bosses around Thomas J., the cutest boy in the town. I LOVED her when I was a kid, and I love her now, because, hey maybe I see a bit of me in her. There is no need to hold your opinions in, kids. Speak your mind.
Stick up for yourself
Shelly: This is Phil, Harry, Gramoo, and Vada Sultenfuss.
Danny: Vada Sultenfuss? Tough break.
Vada: I like my name.
Darn right, little lady! I personally hate my name (because Jessica is everyone’s name ever, and Tholmer is so hard to say) but if I did like my name, I’d be shoutin’ it out, loud and proud. There is nothing wrong with being proud of your name, your heritage, your confidence, and everything else about yourself. Go Vada, girl. Shut ’em down.
What’s a period?
Some people probably learned about the whole menstruation thing from their parents, but I did not. I learned about having a period from My Girl, and that’s really okay with me. After completely freaking out about why she woke up bleeding, Shelly teaches Vada all about what’s happening to her body. (Thank you, from both of us.) The best part, still and always, is that Vada’s reaction includes the line:
“It’s not fair! Nothing happens to boys.”
Well, not the same things anyway.
How to wear makeup
Not only did Shelly teach Vada about her period, but she taught her about makeup.
“The first rule of eye makeup is that you can never wear enough blue eye shadow.”
And the second rule of eye makeup is that rules that we followed in 1991 do not necessarily carry over into 2015.
Taking a class is a great way to follow your passion
Vada is young, and she has a crush on her teacher, so she decides to take his writing class to get closer to him. It’s cute, and he is a professional and respects Vada’s work as if she were an adult, which I love. Regardless of the unrequited love, it is really cool that a kid wanted to take a writing class. I wish all kids were like Vada.
There’s nothing like your first kiss
I’ll never forget my first kiss! It was almost movie-moment cute. The first time you let someone that close to your face is always a special moment, and coming-of-age movies always make it the cutest. Particularly that adorable one between Vada and Thomas J. Be still our hearts.
Death touches absolutely everyone, but you can’t let it take over your life
This is something Shelly says to Harry while he attempts to dismiss his daughter’s pain over her best friend’s death (spoiler alert). Since Harry is a mortician, and since he has experienced enough loss in his life, he tends to be callous about dying. Shelly nails it, though–even if you have an open mind about death, you cannot live your life letting it consume you.
Even after a tragedy, life goes on
Look, I don’t even hate My Girl 2, you guys. Obviously it is nothing like the first one, and I miss Thomas J. the whole time, but it is nice to see Vada’s life after such a tragedy. Though things have changed for her, she honors Thomas J. in everything she does, and I love that, because that is exactly how loss is. Even in the little things, you are always honoring the person you lost.