Anne T. Donahue
January 29, 2015 12:22 pm

I grew up in a house full of seventies reruns, so please imagine my joy at the release of 1995 and 1996’s Very Brady movies. FINALLY, I thought, the world would get it. The world would see just how ridiculous the television show was, and I would be at the center of it all, saying, “I told you so” to newfound Brady fans.

It didn’t happen.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m Jan. In fact, we are all Jan. We are all Jan so much, I’m going to use this week’s Old Lady Movie Night to prove just how much like Jan we are. Jan is all of us. (And yes, my boyfriend’s name is George Glass.)

Sometimes we just can’t win

Once I went to a YMCA all-ages dance (I was 12, but imagine if I was like, “It was last week”), and I met this guy named Peter. Peter liked me, I liked him, and we dated for the duration of the dance. Then, it ended because I was 12, he was 13, and there was no way we’d ever get to hang out because he lived on the other side of town. But did that stop me from telling everybody at school I had a boyfriend? Did that stop me from telling the most popular girl in school that I had a crush on Peter (sigh), knowing it would make me look cool and conceal my real feelings for Chris (her sometimes-boyfriend)? You’re right. I did. And I think we can all guess her reaction to all this information.

And “Jan” rhymes with “Anne,” wouldn’t you know.

No, but really: sometimes we just straight-up lose

I’m a firm believer that if you’re not terribly embarrassed by something you’ve done, your life isn’t actually being lived to the fullest. (Because I have done so many embarrassing things, and I need to think like this to survive.) Enter: grade 10 and the great ICQ mix-up of 2000. I spent a night flirting with this guy via the Internet, and somehow, the conversation turned into “Want to go out?” So obviously, I responded “YESSSSS!!!!”, assuming he was serious. He was not. Which was something I learned after I went to school the next day and told everybody we were going out. Including—yep!—the same popular girl from Peter-at-the-YMCA dance. She even had blonde hair.

Sometimes all any of us need is that one thing to give us confidence

Now here’s another thing: we’ve all had those terrible days where all it takes is like, a hat, to make us feel powerful. I say this because I understand this next image with every fibre of my being:

The other day, sick and covered in Vicks and coughing all over the place, I was convinced lipstick would help me. “I will look like myself!” I said, convincing not even my cat that this tiny, $4.99 effort would bring me back to life. At least in Jan’s case, she did look glamorous (that’s the only word to describe that hair and those front curls). Girl had 2015’s seventies obsession down pat, and her style was on point. But yet, she was never Marcia. And “not being Marcia” meant Jan was just like us on those days we think lipstick will camouflage fever-hair and a red nose. We’re only one item away from achieving true glamour, always. (And today, for me, it really is just a hat.)

99% of the time, you can’t please everyone

Remember that girl I told you guys about earlier? (Of course you do because it was three paragraphs ago.) I never, ever won with her. Ever. Even now, if we were to run into each other, ten years after high school, she’d still get the last word and I’d be stuck wondering if I acted cool enough during the interaction. She would say it was good to see me, and I’d say, “Really?”, but by then she’d probably be gone.

And frankly, who cares? At the end of this movie, Marcia’s still Marcia, but Jan’s life turns out to be pretty sweet. All those people we were always trying to impress? Who needs them! May their lives be fine and far away from ours. And either way, we don’t need to worry about them, their approval, or their quips that make us feel smaller than one of Jan’s lost contact lenses. Some people just aren’t meant to be close, siblings included. In the case of my aforementioned Marcia, I only ever consider what she’d say/do/think when I’m telling stories like these ones—and I used to wear the clothes she didn’t want anymore, thinking they’d make me cool like she was. So.

Ultimately, at some point, WE WILL PREVAIL

We, the Jans of the world, eventually prevail. We have to—we don’t have a choice, because at some point the universe says we’ve earned a break. And that break? It’s massive. It’s meeting a real boy named George Glass. It’s managing to find lost contact lenses. It’s managing to become a meme, 20 years after the fact. In the end, Jan conquers all. Because we will conquer all. Even if we accidentally think we’re dating a guy after an ICQ conversation gone horribly awry.

(Images via, via, via, via, via, via.)

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