It’s been 26 years since the Cheshire-grinning Ferris Bueller whisked away his rodeo jacket-tasseled girlfriend and perpetually angst-ridden best friend for a day out in Chicago, as brush-stroked by John Hughes, and certainly befitting the sausage king of the Midwest, Abe Froman. The day itself was a measuring stick for people who knew that another day spent lamenting amongst disinterested teachers and administrators with daily vendettas as if hot lunch items just wouldn’t cut it. Ferris Bueller taught children of the ’80s and ’90s that a day of fun wouldn’t be spent hot-boxing various rooms with ticklish vapors dubbed kush, crash, splash, dash or Westside OG. Rather, it would be spent absorbing the surrounding cultural flavor through a series of peripheral osmosis. The day off was so thoroughly complete that the trio of northshore explorers left the Windy City truly winded.
It’s easy to look back at yesteryear through sepia-toned eyes and think that what came before was inevitably better because nostalgia sticks to those memories like pinkelponkers do to liquidambar trees. While things in the past were simpler, new world amenities have made life easier for a generation that still plays hookie from work like it was third-period chemistry. But what exactly would Ferris Bueller’s Day Off look like if he took a mental health day in 2012?
The question isn’t “what are we going to do,” the question is “what aren’t we going to do?”
What he did: Took in a ballgame at The Friendly Confines.
What he’d do today: Set his fantasy baseball lineup.
The fantasy sports phenomenon has turned even the most fair-weathered fans into die-hards for the simple fact that they root for a win and loss result as opposed to statistical bukkake. It’s not enough anymore to attend a game and bask in the physicality involved with playing professionally. Instead, we expect these athletes to deliver timely hits and lights-out pitching performances so that our fantasy team can outplay a guy with a single syllable name from accounting in the first round of the playoffs. There was a time when “play ball” truly meant to “have a ball.”
What he did: Took part in a rousing rendition of “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles during the Van Steuben Day Parade.
What he’d do today: Look at videos of people covering “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles on YouTube.
It seems that more and more folks experience the world around them through a screen that is peppered with spittle from gut busting videos of people falling down and kittens so painfully cute that you want to bake them into a orange tabby custard. People consume life experiences in even tinier optical boxes than their predecessors, and children of the ’80s and ’90s were practically parented by the television.
What he did: Observed some of the great works of art at The Art Institute of Chicago.
What he’d do today: Leave anonymous comments on blog posts.
It seems only fitting that Ferris’ romp through Chicago included a visit to The Art Institute where he notably observed George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which depicted a leisurely day spent along the spearmint shores of the Seine. What made Ferris, Sloane and Cameron’s day so special is that while only teenagers, they weren’t oblivious to the great and wonderful things that had come before them. They didn’t despise things because they didn’t understand them. They didn’t loathe an image because they were shameful that they would never be able to create something like that for themselves. It was their humility that made them transcend being characters and turned them into real people. It seems the same can’t be said for many folks who take it upon themselves to police the internet with the intellect of a tumble weed and the sharp sting of a boot spur. Your opinion matters, but it shouldn’t matter all of the time.
Perhaps Ferris would even use his free time to become a spam emailer. Certainly he’d have more success than his Royal Highness Ibrahim Mbenga from Zimbabwe. Who wouldn’t open an email that was labeled, “SAVE FERRIS?”
What he did: Saw the city from spectacular heights.
What he’d do today: Get high and forget he cooked a Hot Pocket.
Anything is peaceful from one thousand, three hundred and fifty-three feet.
Big cities have the tendency to humble even the most braggadocio individuals with a swift kick to the rump. That’s what makes the survival that much sweeter when your old zip code is as distant in your mind as the thoughts of the individuals 1,353 feet below. It’s hard to imagine that a seventeen-year-old kid in today’s society would dare to think of others when those around them have fluffed their egos and turned them into medicated Adonises.
What he did: Swam in a complete stranger’s pool.
What he’d do today: Tended to an imaginary farm.
Ferris Bueller you’re my hero.
Triumphs in 2012 come in the form of being fictional, yet successful land baron/ baronesses where fatback output proves to be more valuable than real life or death decisions. Would Ferris react, or would he replant a bushel of rutabagas?
What he did: Ate a decadent lunch at ‘Chez Quis’.
What he’d do today: A hundred crunches so he’d have transcendent abdominal muscles.
A carb was nothing but a carburetor back in the 1980’s. Pie holes ran over with intricate sauces and abominable, ice cream mounds, unlike today, when people treat food like it’s been poisoned by Wesley from The Princess Bride. There are two type of people in the world: people who think about the food and people who think about how the food tastes.
What he did: Borrowed a red 1961 Ferrari 250GT California.
What he’d do today: Love his own car more than his friends and parents.
People have argued that there is perhaps a Fight Club/ Tyler Durden element to the John Hughes classic, where in Ferris is merely a figment of Cameron’s imagination. It seems only apropos to offer the following assessment: “the things you own end up owning you.” While it was the car that ate away at Cameron’s very essence in the ’80s, it’s the material nature at which we value our relationships in the present day that would lead one to believe that Mr. Bueller would love his things more than his living, breathing counterparts. As it turns out, Ferris Bueller would still very much need saving in 2012.
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.