Anne T. Donahue
August 01, 2014 8:48 am

These are my confessions: I’ve found myself in the midst of movies this summer that I’ve seen but haven’t seen a lot of. I know. I KNOW. (Stop yelling at me.) Clearly, we’re on a journey, and for the first time in maybe the two-ish years I’ve been writing this thang, you guys are taking the wheel. JUST like that Carrie Underwood song.

Anyway, as I write this, it’s approximately one hour before the airing of Sharknado which of course inspired me to write about Sixteen Candles, a movie that has absolutely nothing to do with anything I’m going to see on SyFy.

The first time I was 16 Candles I was 15, and I thought the following: “It’s okay!”

I SAID STOP YELLING. I think, because 16th birthdays were customarily celebrated by my friends and I ate at restaurants that delivered either a free pizza or a pie in the face, I didn’t really get the big deal. I mean, I got the big deal — honestly if somebody forgets my birthday NOW I will shun them forever, and I’m turning 29 in 30 days — but I was in the midst of watching Titanic on repeat (STILL), so no love story compared to that of Jack and Rose.

Now I get it. And I get that I totally missed out by not embracing this movie earlier in life — especially because my 16th birthday was so much worse than anything seen in a John Hughes film. But enough about me (just kidding!), we’ve got life lessons to get to:

1. In real life, your 16th birthday should definitely not be a pinnacle.

It just shouldn’t because so many better birthdays exist. When I was 16, we went to East Side Mario’s and half the people I invited skipped out on the bill and went into the night. Then, I went back to my best friend’s house, she invited the guy she was seeing, and he brought his friends who did drugs in the bathroom while the rest of us sat in front of Stephen King’s It questioning who we were as people. I would’ve killed for a Sixteen Candles birthday. I would’ve killed for the guy I liked to sit across from me with a cake. Instead, he was trying to date my friend Lauren.

So take it from me, for the love of all that is good: IT GETS BETTER, I PROMISE.

2. This movie would be impossible — like all movies — with Facebook.

Because automatically, everyone would know that it was Molly Ringwald’s birthday. And even if they weren’t close, they’d wish her a happy birthday, and she’d feel like a million bucks. Facebook, to me, is worth it for the birthdays especially. Only. Particularly. I JUST WANT ATTENTION ON AUGUST 29 IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK. No.

3. Never pass anything along to a friend in calls otherwise things like sex quizzes will be intercepted by the one person you’d rather not be intercepting anything.

I have learned this because I am a human woman who grew up telling so-and-so to give such-and-such this thing, only to find out so-and-so had no regards for personal property. Then, to avoid anything like that in the future, my best friend and I passed a book back and forth — which was fine until we almost lost it. So maybe what I’m saying here is never, ever write anything down. And burn all phones containing sensitive text messages. Because if this was 2014, the sex quiz in question would be like the sex quiz in Veronica Mars, and we all know how that turned out.

4. Don’t underestimate anybody, ever.

Because Molly Ringwald shouldn’t have been surprised that her grandparents’ exchange student, Long Duk Dongearned the attention of a cool lady. I mean, why wouldn’t he? It’s kind of embarrassing for everyone to assume that Marlene wouldn’t have been into him. ALL I’M SAYING is never assume nor underestimate. Also, I’d love to know how their relationship progressed. (Also screw everyone for nicknaming Marlene “The Lumberjack” BECAUSE SHE’S STRONG! Way to shame, idiots of that particular high school! Marlene now probably has six Olympic gold medals.)

5. Sex bets aren’t really a thing . . . I don’t think?

Now look. I’d personally never known bets like this to exist, but I also know that means I might just be completely in the dark. EITHER WAY, let me just declare right now that if some guy came up to me — regardless of whether he said my crush was asking about me and my sex list — and said “My friends and I have a bet about me having sex with you” I would find a way to bury them all in a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit for at least ten years. (Don’t worry, someone would bring them food and stuff.) I would not give him my underwear. And I hate the word “panties” so I would also not call them that.

6. I don’t have the stamina to be a teen in the 1980s or a 1980s film character.

And I don’t think any of us do. Think of the effort! I was a teen when cell phones existed and even though we could only call people on them, it was still at least a comfort to know you could reach the person DIRECTLY. Here, Jake calls Molly Ringwald and gets her grandparents. I mean, any person with a brain would think, “I will call back.” But then again, that’s the most terrifying thing in the world. Because what if you call back and they say, “I SAID he’d call you when he got home.” Then you look desperate. See? I’ve been there.

7. Never host parties.

Because, as evidenced by Jake’s house and Can’t Hardly Wait, your house will be destroyed. Honestly even thinking about it right now stresses me out. And I had an impromptu 25-minute party once (seriously), that resulted in a guy spitting on my carpet (?) and another eating all the pickles in my fridge. And if you’re reading this now, guys, I will never forget you.

8. There is too much passing of the underwear in this movie.

Just too much. I love John Hughes, but I do not love that now the underwear is being shown for $1, and then given to Jake by Ted, and just like . . . no. NO. Guys, if I found out that here was a thing like this going on with my underwear, point blank, I would not be okay. I would probably tell everyone about it, and make sure the school knew these clowns were into stealing and trading women’s undergarments and to judge them accordingly. Even though Jake was getting my underwear BACK. I’d still just be too weirded out by the whole thing. I’d need a detailed explanation and THEN I would need Jake to yell at Ted before I yelled at Ted some more.

9. It is movies like these that make us think we can effectively break up someone.

And I say this because I have absolutely fallen under the spell of teen films that tell me that if someone has a crush on you, they will break up with whoever else to make a relationship with you happen. In fact, I lived most of my teen years (and well into my mid-20s) believing this was a realistic thing. I mean, OF COURSE Jake breaks up with his girlfriend who loves Ted. Of COURSE it works out! This is why I actively pursued guys with girlfriends for YEARS. Because if it could work out in a fictional story written by a human man, why wouldn’t it work out in my small-town teen life filled with actual people? Exactly. (It didn’t.)

10. All unrealistic birthday expectations do come from Sixteen Candles, though

They do. They just do. And do you know what? If you think no dude would show up with a cake to bond over the anniversary of somebody’s birthday, then you do not know my friend Judith whose now-boyfriend DID THAT VERY THING for her 20th birthday five years ago. It was real, you guys, and it fueled me. John Hughes and a real human person have set me up to be disappointed every August 29. Only because if some guy shows up with 16 candles on a cake I’m going to say, “I’m not 16, I’m 29.” Also: “And man, I totally appreciate this, but actually I juuuuuust wrote about this happening to my friend, so maybe you could’ve shown up with like, a really big coffee? I have a lot of work to do today.”

Just kidding I would love it, obviously. I MEAN COME ON. (Are you reading this, actor who played Jake Ryan, the year before I was born?)

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