You Are What You Eat in the The Breakfast Club

Image: Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, and Emilio Estevez in The Breakfast Club (1985), Universal Pictures

My John Hughes Life

In 2017, I championed My Bridget Jones Life. In 2018, I’m moving into John Hughes territory. Not only does the director have a litany of classic 80s movies under his belt, he has writing credits clear into the 2010s. Who can’t relate to a good old-fashioned coming of age story or a character that breaks stereotypes? This is my life in movies.

The Breakfast Club or The Brunch Club?

It’s funny to me that one of the most iconic scenes in the Breakfast Club is not about breakfast at all. It’s about lunch. All the stereotypes and cliches of the high school student — the athlete (Emilio Estevez as Andrew), the basket case (Ally Sheedy as Allison), the brain (Anthony Michael Hall as Brian), the criminal (Judd Nelson as Bender), the princess (Molly Ringwald as Claire) — are more on display in what they chose to eat than on what they wore or how they looked.

Consider all the innovative lunch combinations!

Are You a Claire?

Sushi in the 1980s? Talk about decadent, elite even … at least for its time but especially for detention. Claire pulls out a fancy schmancy sushi box with matching chopsticks and delicately nibbles away to the stares of the “club”. Still, I doubt Claire’s sushi tasted all that good after sitting in that designer shopping bag under her desk for five hours.

Are You an Andrew?

Moving on to Andrew, let’s see. His literal grocery bag of lunch options included three sandwiches, a quart of milk, a bag of chocolate chip cookies, a family-size bag of potato chips, an apple, and a banana. While I applaud him for at least remembering to add the fruit, I cannot help but wonder about his weight class on the wrestling team.

Are You an Allison?

Then, of course, every child’s dream meal. A sandwich of Pixie Stix and Capn’ Crunch cereal! Of course, Allison only indulges after she throws a slice of pimento loaf onto a school fixture and opens a can of fizzing Coca-Cola. Classy how she sucks the remains off the table too.

Are You a Brian or a Bender?

Brian, on the other hand, has a brown paper bag lunch packed by his parents. Inside are a thermos of soup, a PB&J sandwich with the crusts cut off, and a juice box. Bender, the natural bully, comes on over and asks “What are we having for lunch?”

You Are Who You Are

How ridiculous would it be if people judged you based on what you ate? Surprisingly, it happens time and time again.

Bring your own lunch to middle school, you aren’t cool. Eat canned vegetables or tuna fish, you must be poor. Go through the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant, you must be unhealthy. What if the thought of a hot school lunch makes your stomach roll? What if you like the taste of canned tuna? What if you need a shot of caffeine to dull a migraine or you simply want to support a friend working the drive-thru window?

People find it acceptable to judge you based on anything and everything under the sun, even if they don’t know a thing about you.

Dear Mr. Vernon,

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong.  But we think you’re crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us. In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain … and an athlete … and a basket case … a princess … and a criminal. Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club

Don’t let other people define you.

Life Is a Potluck

In the end, none of the stereotypes matter. Why? Because there’s more to each and every one of us than meets the eye.

It’s not what you look like, and it’s sure not about what you eat. All of those things can change in an instant. Instead, these characters come together when they hear each other’s stories, when they open themselves up to other perspectives and actually *gasp* listen. If more of us could stop to look past our assumptions and get to know people for who they really are, the world would be a far better place.

Now imagine, instead of sitting in their “assigned” seats, the Breakfast Club set their lunch up as a potluck. How much more inclusive would that be? Personally, I would have snagged a piece of sushi, the banana, and the juice box with a Pixie Stix for dessert. That’s right. I am a brain, an athlete, a basket case, and a princess. Not a criminal perhaps, but aren’t we all innocent until proven guilty?