Chicago, Humor, John Hughes, Menopause

Channeling Mr. Hughes

I know you think there is something wrong with me.
Maybe not all of you, but the vast majority of you do.
You can nod your heads as you read this because even a part of me thinks there’s something wrong with me as I try to replicate my adolescent years by sitting at a dead director’s grave, writing for hours on end.
But this is the epiphany that struck me on a humid early spring day as I shouted it into my phone, the Psychedelic Furs blasting in the background. YES I KNOW HOW PATHETICALLY PATHETIC IT SOUNDS.

the trick is to not let people know how really weird you are until it's too late

I refuse to forget what it was like to be a teenager while I’m in the midst of perimenopause.
I refuse.
And this is the fundamental issue at hand.
That is the AHA moment that the therapist at the other end of the couch, if I could afford one, would say to me after all of this nonsense.
Which is totally not nonsense.
When it is.

channeling John Hughes

It all started mid winter with this John Hughes article I wrote for Chicago Parent.
Innocent enough, I enjoy his films, and grew up watching them. We’d have always drove around and seen the houses and movie locations before.
My father-in-law used to worked security for several John Hughes movies in the 1980s, so it wasn’t anything new to my world.
It was something we talked about often, so why not write about something I love?

John Hughes grave site in beautiful Lake Forest

After visiting his grave site though, something stuck with me.
It was weird.
I wrote about the visit and as I wrote, a song came on my Pandora playlist.
Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds.
I even joked about it IN the article.
It made me smile but also made me stop in my tracks a little because I don’t believe in coincidences.
Do I think that John Hughes is reaching me from beyond?
But is it a little weird?

John Hughes movie homes

My friends came out this past February from Ohio and I was deciding where to take them since they had never been to this area before.
So where do I take them, after Portillo’s of course?
John Hughes grave.
Yes, I took them to his grave.
I know.
In my defense, they thought it was cool and they also are “children of the school of Hughes”, teenagers who grew up on Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and so on.
We also spent the weekend visiting movie locations from two of the above movies as well and it was while we were doing so that the idea for the John Hughes Museum came about.
Why isn’t there one?
I don’t want this to be a novel, so go here for my suggestion.

Lake Forest Cemetery

Then I got busy.
Well, my hormones got busy.
So I dropped the ball.
But unbelievable things happened in the midst of menopausal hell.
Things like my husband randomly finding out that John Hughes former home was being opened up to the public for tours!
He heard on the morning news that we could, for a price, pay to take a tour of his mansion!!!
The week after my birthday.
I think so.

John Hughes grave stone

Then, my friend and fellow John Hughes aficionado Vikki, shared a cool link on my Facebook wall about unknown Sixteen Candles facts that stated that it was 31 years ago “today” that the movie was released.
Did that just say 31 years ago…
May 4th, 1984??

MAY 4TH????

The same exact day that I published my post about needing a John Hughes Museum in Chicago?

a grace full life blog
a grace full life blog

I got chills up my spine.
I don’t care if you don’t believe but I did.
I totally did.
I bought those damn charity tickets to the John Hughes mansion faster than you could say SAVE FERRIS.

But first, I had a stop to make.

writer sitting at John Hughes grave site

I wrote for a good 30 minutes this day.
I promised myself I would return in the spring.
And I would have written longer but of course, this is right next to the lake and spring here is just…don’t get me started.
So it was cold.
The struggle was real.
My husband took this picture without me even asking which makes me so happy.
Either that or he is starting to “get the crazy” and he wants to document it for proof.

writing inspired at John Hughes grave

“John Hughes WOULD love my tenacity.
And we WOULD tweet me back JON CRYER.
He WOULD email me back Andrew McCarthy.”

I am looking at both of you.
Actually, those are the only people I had the cojones to get in touch with in regards to the museum.
The crazy train didn’t venture too far from the crazy station but just enough.
Don’t worry, I am sure I will hit enough of the brat pack to get a restraining order by the time I am 50

Mike and Kari Lake Forest Illinois

So after my writing session with Mr. Hughes, my husband and I drove to the church where we were to grab the shuttle to take us to “the” mansion.
A couple of notes:

-The shuttle was full of women.
-Women who had a good 10-15 years on us.
-Some were our age, don’t get me wrong but I felt like we were on our way to a bridge club outing.

I did feel a little sorry for my husband, he was sorely outnumbered.
But then I laughed at the humor of it all.
Here we were going to John Hughes mansion for cripes sake and it was all older women in capris and ballet flats.
And all I wanted to do was sing” I WANNA BE AN AIRBORNE RANGER!!!!”
At the top of my lungs.
While running up and down the aisle.

John Hughes Lake Forest mansion

We have arrived.
Shall we plow?

bus to John Hughes tour

There you get the feel of who was touring with us.
See, I felt like we would be rubbing elbows with fellow Hughes fans, movie fans, etc.
Yes, I figured there would be lots of interior design people there, etc. because that is what was being featured but I guess I thought there would be some people there who would be interested in the man behind the home.
The history of the home, the person who owned it.
Instead, it was filled with lots and lots of ladies who lunch.

tour of John Hughes home

We were told at this tent that no pictures were allowed inside and no big bags.
I had brought my huge camera and huge purse but they had told me, “oh that is NOTHING, we have seen MUCH bigger, you are fine”.
Me being a rule follower, didn’t take one picture, followed strict instructions, took my program book and inhaled each room.
I loved every moment I was in this home.
It was crowded and hard to focus at times but I didn’t let it divert me from trying to focus on the man who lived here, all of the cool meetings that must have happened here, all of the amazing people who must have walked the hallways.

I bet James Spader was a real asshole to John’s kids in this playroom!
I bet John Candy took a dump in that bathroom!

So you know, it was really solemn.
I was told that there were pictures in our program that we were given but I never glanced at the program while inside because I was taking in all the rooms while inside.
It wasn’t until I was home that I realized there wasn’t one picture inside my program.
I felt a little gypped, not going to lie but I do remember being inside and quite honestly, it wasn’t decorated like when he lived there.

The only homage to John Hughes was The Breakfast Club playing on auto-repeat in the “rec room”.
I entered the room when the closing credits came on.
If I came in when the library dance scene was playing?

cemetery where John Hughes is buried

There was one room that really got to me though.
The “man cave”.
It was totally “redecorated”  by a designer and I say “redecorated” because I am sure when he lived there it wasn’t a “man cave” because they didn’t have “man cave’s” back then.
But there was a picture on the mantle of John Hughes that was original and I was drawn to it as soon as I walked into the room.
It completely caught me off guard and I started to get tears in my eyes as I stared into it.
Like ugly cry tears.
I couldn’t look away, cheesily enough, I was awestruck.
I felt lost in the moment and soon enough, realized that I was crying.
I told my husband that I needed to collect myself or people were going to think there was something wrong with me.
Then as we were walking to another part of this room there was an actual picture of Mr. Hughes, a much more recent picture than I had ever seen.
It just meant a lot to me to see that in the home because I hadn’t seen anything of him in the house prior to that.

We did get to walk the gardens of the home and we were allowed to take pictures there.
Which turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the tour.

John Hughes yard

I did hear his name here and there throughout the day.
In the home.
In the yard.
In the garden.
Whispers…..oh yes, he was the one….oh you know, Pretty in Pink……..

pink flowers John Hughes garden


my shoes on John Hughes patio

My feet.
On John Hughes patio.
Wearing my chucks.
I dressed up.
But I did NOT wear ballet flats.

I wanna be an airborne ranger……

John Hughes pool

The first thing I thought of when I saw this pool was, I wonder if Matthew Broderick swam in this?
In a leopard print thong.

Danke Schoen……..

ladies chatting by John Hughes pool

More bridge club ladies.

” You know Judd Nelson signed my boob back in 1985 in Poughkeepsie during a press junket for St. Elmo’s Fire. And I wasn’t wearing any underwear, ladies.”
Titter, titter, titter.
Then the lady in the pink jacket piped in, ” yeah, well he smacked my ass on the way out”.

Oh, that was way too much fun.



Sloane from Ferris?

Only Ferris Bueller fans will get this.
John Hughes was chuckling from the beyond at this little juxtaposition.
The irony wasn’t lost on me.

patio of John Hughes home

I said to my husband as we walked the many halls of this mansion something to the effect of, ” I feel like we are passing Blane, Steff, and Benny with every turn. ”
Funny how one made his money off that movie and yet, here we are?

garden of John Hughes home

Not to say that those people are nasty mean like in the movie but this home is a mansion.
I mean come on, Mr. Hughes, you can only be so down to earth.
Kind of like in Pretty in Pink, when Andie drives through the neighborhood offhandedly mentioning that she thinks the people who live in these mansions probably don’t appreciate the homes they live in.
I felt the same exact way about the former home of the man who wrote that exact line in the movie.
Looking at every room wondering if he did in fact, think it was half as pretty as I did.

John Hughes lake forest home

It was such a great day.
We stood in front of his former home and stared at it for a good five minutes before looking at each other and finally realizing it was time to take the shuttle back to our car.
But first, let us take a selfie.

in front of John Hughes mansion

I was kind of hoping we would see his ghost in the background.
No such luck.

Back on the shuttle, we didn’t really say much, just absorbed everything.
I listened to the muttered chatter of the bridge ladies on the bus but couldn’t get this song out of my head the entire shuttle ride.

We stopped at Smashburger for lunch and as we were sitting outside eating our burgers and sharing a fry.

Why we shared a fry I have no idea, because one fry is never enough…
My husband gave me a gift.
He sent me these two pictures:

older John Hughes

Two illegal pictures.

inside John Hughes mansion
The above is me scurrying away from the mantel to compose myself.

I was verklempt.
I may have cried into my burger which if you know me, is highly unusual as not to ruin my burger experience.
It was the best gift.
He said it was worth getting caught.
I think Mr. Hughes would agree.

He would also agree that we should start calling “man cave’s”dens.
Effective immediately.
And stop playing The Breakfast Club in the rec room.
It’s giving him a headache.

writing at John Hughes grave

This day was unbelievably cool and weirdly emotional.
My dear friend Vikki messaged me that night asking me how the day went and I said to her that I felt like the museum idea was silly, that it wasn’t going to happen but that the day was amazing.
That this day was completely worth it and that I felt like I spent the day with John Hughes if that makes any sense.
I said, “I think I will write one more post then drop it. Let the John Hughes idea die with him.”
I told Mike that I think maybe the museum for John Hughes is his legacy via his movies.

John Hughes grave site

Then my dear friend wrote back one of the best paragraphs I have read in a long time:

I have been reading this over and over and not wanting to respond until I had the right words. I don’t think I will ever have the right words. But you cannot give up on this idea. I agree with his movies being his museum also. But he defined our teenage years. There is no one that cannot relate to his characters. If you truly feel a museum may not be the route to go, then why not a John Hughes festival every year? It makes total sense how you felt like you spent the day with him. I truly believe HE chose to spend this day with you. There is a reason you found about this tour.  Once in a lifetime opportunity ….? Maybe. But it’s one that you got to experience fully.

I think I read and re-read that probably ten times.
Would Mr. Hughes even want a museum?
He seemed so quiet and reserved, to me his movies live on as to be his living museum.
Maybe a museum that blared DONT YOU FORGET ABOUT ME as you walk in the door would be too commercial for a man who seemed to shy away from the Hollywood lifestyle.

John Hughes backyard

But how cool would it be to have a place to go to honor him, to listen to the music of his movies, to see items from movies that we grew up with.
To touch tangible things such as Claire’s prom dress or the car from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
To be able to do THE dance in THE library and not care what the eff people think.
That was the vision I had when thinking of this museum, not a stuffy place with columns and blue blazers and glossy programs with glass walls and red velvet ropes.

When I walked in his house that day, I heard, even among the little white-haired bridge club interior decorator ladies, rumblings of …… sixteen candles sspsss sspss breakfast club sspsssspss ….even those ladies were in awe.
They got it.
They knew.
Because even among those ladies there was a teenage girl in 1984 crushing on a boy who had no idea she existed, sick of losing to the beautiful girl cheering loudly on the inside because FINALLY there was a movie character that was winning the boy and she wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous.
She was you.
And you.
And me.
And who did she owe it to?
John Hughes.

Did it happen in my high school?
Hell no.
But the fact that it happened on the movie screen was cinematic history and that, my friends, is why I love this man.

older John Hughes

Maybe it is stupid, a pipe dream, my mid-life version of a Corvette or a hot young blonde.
But whatever it is, I am not giving up.
But just wait until you hear what I have in store.
Let’s just say it involves a road trip, old friends and a script.*

*Head here to read that “script”. 

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