Editor’s Column – Sincerely Yours, The Breakfast Club

Vanessa Persico

Everyone feels more or less alone at the beginning. You’re the Jock, or the Brain, or the Princess, the Criminal or the Basketcase. Nobody else here is. The faces are familiar, maybe, but none are entirely friendly. You’re guarded, and you’re out of your element. The only thing you have in common with the Basketcases and Princesses surrounding you is the time you all have to kill.

But that time becomes something extraordinary as everyone simultaneously loses and finds themselves within the confines of the group, the time and the place.

“The Breakfast Club,” arguably the brightest jewel in Brat Pack director John Hughes’ cinematic crown, is more than a cheery, uplifting story about overcoming stereotypes or walking across difference. It’s a tribute to a relationship that we’ve all had at one point or another, a kind of group connection that lasts only for an hour, a day, or a week. It happens, of course, during Saturday detentions as you all try to outwit the creepy principal and take hits of weed in a library. But it can also happen during retreats and at summer camps, on service trips, in classes and dormitories, in focus groups and at conferences.

The Breakfast Club effect is like the friendship equivalent of a one night stand. All of the people in the group come to believe and accept – regardless of whether it’s really the case – that they are all each other has for the time being. The result is an automatic magnetism. The group develops the kind of chemistry usually reserved for best friends, sports teams, or sitcom characters. Everyone has a role in the little pageant. Everyone is special and appreciated, and you learn that you all have more in common than you thought. As one of my best friends once said of both one night stands and the BC Effect, “It’s a complete sham, but it’s also kind of beautiful.”

It is a complete sham. The nicknames won’t stick. The cell numbers will get deleted. The Facebook group won’t get updated and, let’s face it, the romance between the Criminal and the Princess will never work out. In “The Breakfast Club,” the characters have a long conversation about this. The Brain asks, “So, on Monday…what happens?” When he insists that he wants the truth, the Princess says, “I don’t think so.”

After this conversation, the dynamic goes decidedly sour – and no wonder. Around this time last year, our hookup columnist emeritus railed against people who expect Spring Break flings to be anything more than just that, a fling. I have to agree. If it’s destined to be short and sweet, no matter what it is, enjoy the sweetness, but don’t ruin it by bringing up the shortness. Just keep it in the back of your mind and let it make the sweetness that much more acute.

So, here’s to John Hughes. Here’s to those alcoves of harmony that you find when the you’re isolated from the rest of the orchestra. Here’s to finding out exactly how much you love or hate French fries dipped in milkshakes. Here’s to the unconventional, the ungodly, the unexpected and the outrageous combinations that, astonishingly, blend perfectly. And here’s to how unbearably, exquisitely short that perfection is, because, to quote another zeitgeist hero, Chuck Palahniuk:

“A minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.”