I know I may cause a few territorial eyebrows to raise when I say this, but high school, #PrettyinPink was my life.
Probably I’m not the only one out there who feels this way, but hear me out. By sixth grade, when the movie first appeared in theaters, it’d already become clear to me that my parents’ social work salaries were not going to provide the closets full of ESPRIT, Forenza, Guess, and Outback Red that the populars at my school flaunted. If I was to have any style, I’d have to create –and purchase—it on my own.
So, I took babysitting jobs. Then I spent nearly every dime I earned on floral print black velvet pants, baggy button-downs emblazoned with gold keys, or giant clocks. I bought Chinese flats and gigantic earrings and brooches that I, yes, wore with blouses under my Dad’s dinner jackets. Occasionally I dipped into the preppy style, hoping to blend in more, but by 9th grade I’d been assured that wasn’t ever going to happen. I wasn’t exactly picked on, but I was definitely branded weird. I had bizarre clothes. I skipped in the halls with my friends. I was in Drama, and in Chorus. I loved reading and writing, and I wasn’t ashamed to show it.
Though nowhere near the venomous Benny in “Pretty in Pink,” the queen bees in middle and high school --twins, who, yes, looked just like Jessica and Elizabeth from Sweet Valley High—and I were in homeroom together until graduation. And let’s just say they didn’t go out of their way to offer me much more than silent disdain.
But it didn’t matter. Because I’d found the store in town that sold amazing vintage dresses for cheap, and by ninth grade I’d also found “Pretty in Pink.”
Sure, I didn’t have the red hair—mine was more Julia Roberts back then-- but I did have the lips, and when I finally saw the movie I knew it was fate. I schooled myself on creating an even more Andee-style wardrobe, claimed the Karmann Ghia as my favorite car, and eschewed my parents’ Simon and Garfunkel and Neil Diamond for Depeche Mode and #NewOrder.
Outfits and electro pop weren’t the only places where Andee and I overlapped, however. In tenth grade, one of my babysitting gigs turned into a real job at a restaurant, and though my boss certainly wasn’t as cool as Iona, having older college kids to look out for me felt almost as good as the paycheck. I was too goody-goody to sneak into bars, but there were teen dance nights at least twice a week, and you can bet I was at them, pounding the floor in my combat boots and smoking my cloves. For junior #prom, though I stayed away from pink, I even designed and sewed my own dress.
Whenever people told me I reminded them of #MollyRingwald, my toes curled with pleasure. I admired her. I copied her. I revered her. I needed her.