When I was a teen, there was a best-selling book called “All I Need To Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.” While the premise clearly appealed to a lot of people, I think another hidden gold mine of life lessons can be found in the eighties’ movies I saw growing up. While time has revealed that some are unlikely to occur ever, others still hold true. Here are twelve that made an indelible impression.
1. Never prank a bully while wearing a non-aerobic friendly Halloween costume.
If you plan to, make sure you’re wearing broken-in sneakers and can quickly shed any part of said costume that might get snagged on something as you flee.
Also never prank a bully who is an outright sociopath or the follower of one. Unless you happen to be rescued by someone with superior karate skills, you may well wind up in a coma and/or die.
Example: The Karate Kid
2. Your child will respect you if you apologize.
But this should be a clear apology said without shame. This shows you’re human, which paradoxically, makes you more worthy of respect.
Example: Dirty Dancing, Sixteen Candles. See also Say Anything for what happens if you don’t.
3. If you plan on playing hooky, it pays to head into the city. Your principal may bust you if you hang around locally.
Self-explanatory, at least if you have a principal that puts effort into doing this. But if you do go into the city, keep an eye out for your parents if they happen to work there. They can pop up in unexpected spots.
Example: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
4. Your boss and colleagues may not always have your best interests at heart.
Your boss may be polite to your face but secretly consider you pond scum. Your colleagues may be jealous if you get hired and immediately start to bring that “gung-ho” attitude to everything you do. Sometimes you may have to go behind their back, if you want to get promoted or save the company from bankruptcy, but you can find allies in unexpected places.
Examples: Big, Secret of My Success, Working Girl.
5. Your principal may not actually be your ‘pal’.
Yes, he or she may secretly want you to fail to confirm their low opinion of you.
Examples: Too many to list, but a few include Back to the Future, Pump Up the Volume, Stand and Deliver.
6. If you’re a teenage girl, never drink until you pass out.
If you’re a teenage boy, this probably isn’t a good idea either as it will leave you open to humiliation and you may become the target, not the instigator of wacky high jinx. However, if you’re a teen girl, you could wind up with your hair caught in a door and chopped off to free you, stashed in the trunk of a sports car taken out without permission by a geek who has a crush on you, or be filmed by a trio of geeks doing God-knows-what with one of them.
Example: License to Drive, Sixteen Candles
Also, remember no matter how close your are to your dad, he does not want to know when you lose your virginity, indeed you will be doing him a great service by avoiding the subject altogether. (Dirty Dancing, Say Anything)
7. If your parents insist that they were straight-edge and virginal during their teen years, they may be stretching the truth.
This is what my parents always claimed, but after I saw Back to the Future, I could never quite believe it.
Example: Back to the Future
8. Never throw a house party unless you’re cool with your house being totally destroyed and/or all your possessions going missing.
There is no such thing as a Hollywood movie house party with teens that does not end up with the authorities noticing, someone sledding through the door, a crater sized hole in the backyard and/or roof, and perhaps a drunk foreign exchange student in a tree. If you arrange for your home to serve as a brothel-for-a-night, you’re also putting yourself at risk of theft.
Example: Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Risky Business.
9. Never bully unpopular kids because the likelihood that they will develop superpowers, or at least self-defense skills, is high.
Really. You may have a blast for awhile, but do you want to suddenly find yourself on the receiving end of the right hook of a werewolf, or even just a nerd who’s mad as hell and not going to take it any more? Do you really want to be waxing their car as an adult, while they’re a best-selling author?
Examples: Too many to list, but a few include Back to the Future, The Karate Kid, Teen Witch and Teen Wolf.
10. Even the most oblivious parents will eventually notice that you exist, particularly if you get into enough trouble.
Reliable ways (at least in the movies) include keeping an alien in your bedroom, cracking your mom’s Faberge egg, or becoming part of a secret society that reads lots of poetry.
Examples: Dead Poets Society, E.T., Risky Business.
11. The best mentors are the ones who force you to do a bunch of seemingly ridiculous random stuff.
If your coach/teacher just makes you run laps or suggests making flash cards, he or she is clearly not mentor-material.
Examples: Dead Poets Society, The Karate Kid, Stand and Deliver
12. If someone you know starts behaving oddly out of the blue, there are a lot of reasons.
Don’t just assume that they are mentally ill or perhaps on drugs. Consider instead that:
They could actually be their own parent (still with their young body),
Examples: 18 Again, Vice Versa
Or be your child from another era…
Example: Back to the Future
Or attending a new school as a member of the opposite gender…
Example: Just One of the Guys
Or of another race…
Example: Soul Man
You get the picture.