That headline is a quote from Sixteen Candles, lest you think I would willingly sacrifice my Wonder Woman panties. I normally don’t blog twice in one day, but I have to get this one in while everything is still fresh in my mind.
My friend Amber and I decided to squeeze in the director John Hughes‘ former home tour today before the event closed this weekend. John Hughes was behind some of my favorite movies from childhood, from Animal House, Sixteen Candles, and Breakfast Club on up. The home tour was a fund-raiser for the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, but the rooms were each redecorated by different designers, so the interior actually looked nothing like it did when the famed director lived there. To see what it looked like when he lived there, click here.
Before meeting Amber, I had my usual 2-hour weekly breakfast with the Sister Wives, which involves a lot of laughing and even more coffee drinking. The 45-minute drive to Lake Forest was sheer torture. All of that coffee had to go somewhere, and preferably not soaked into the passenger’s seat of Amber’s cute new convertible. That crazy astronaut woman with the diaper was actually making sense to me for a brief moment.
Once we arrived at Mr. Hughes’ palatial manse, I asked to use the facilities. As the ersatz representative of the unwashed masses, I was directed outside to some porta-potties through a ridiculous, circuitous route that involved me walking on the cobblestone street in front of the home to get to the second driveway. (I later discovered the short-cut, through a sidewalk on the side of the house. The bastards.) The absurd juxtaposition of these two porta-potties against the looming luxury of this 11,000 square foot, 21-room mansion was not lost on me.
A 70-something-year-old woman was ahead of us in line. There were two porta-potties, side by side. She informed us with a dramatic grimace that the one to the right was “not usable,” as she stepped into the remaining porta-pottie and locked the door. I waited and waited. And I waited some more. I finally got desperate enough to bravely peer into the other porta-pottie. I jumped back, as if stung. It was unusable. It rather reminded me of the river in Willy Wonka’s factory. These elite North Shore women are animals! Perhaps it was a symbolic statement or art installation–a harsh reminder of the bleak existence of the Infant Welfare Society recipients? Or maybe I just read too much into things…
Poor Amber had to listen to my bitchy observations as 10 minutes passed:
“If she spends one more minute in there, I’m not going in without a hazmat suit…”
“What the hell is taking her so long? At her age, she can’t possibly be changing a tampon…!”
As we stood there, we noticed that in the four-car garage, a rummage sale of sorts was going on. Or as they called it, a “boutique sale.”
“Oh my God!” I squealed. “Do you think this is John Hughes’ garage sale?!? Maybe we can buy a John Hughes’ ashtray for $5! Or maybe Molly Ringwald’s prop lipstick from Breakfast Club!” Could I be so lucky?!?
Finally, the silver fox emerged from the porta-pottie. I went in, got business done, and went to wash my hands. The damned faucet wouldn’t work. There I was, trying to remove the sticky liquid soap with as many paper towels as I could find. Meh. Amber finally needed to use “the facilities” as well. It was then that I thought to myself, “I know exactly the picture I am taking to memorialize today’s adventure.” And it was this one:
Amber and I decided to check out the rummage sale, er, boutique sale, in the garage before heading back to do the tour. I was thrilled to see sleeping masks for sale. The elastic is too tight on mine and these were a nicer material. It was then that I discovered North Shore rummage sales are not like the ones in my ‘hood. The price tag on said sleeping mask? $175. Hand to God. Even I, with my wild imagination, couldn’t make up a price point like that one.
Mind you, Amber has a high-powered job and she left directly from work to join me in our “play date.” I marveled that she did the entire tour in those 4″ heels. We entered the director’s former home and the weight of the pretention was cloying and oppressive. Never one to mince words, Amber knew my opinion on every window treatment, piece of furniture, bric-a-brac, and accoutrement, which went from fugly…to fuglier…to fugliest. This was a 1929 art deco era home–and call me a purist–but it deserved to be decorated by someone who respected that. Some designers just need to surgically remove that shitty 1970s mid-century modern aesthetic from their repertoire. It’s so derivative and unimaginative. To perpetrate that style on a 1920s home is just criminal to me. Imagine watching Downton Abbey and seeing a Harvest Gold refrigerator in Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen. It was fugly the first time around, and it’s even moreso today.
Something might have been said about us not being allowed to take photos inside of the home, but I can’t be sure. I know I didn’t sign any NDAs. All I know is, I stood guard, just in case, as Amber and two other tourists happily snapped away and got their contraband images. (In our defense, the expensive book we were given for the tour had almost zero photos of the home’s newly decorated interior–just designer renderings.) We loved these clever little cocktail tables that had been created with Monopoly, Backgammon, and Scrabble boards on their surfaces.
One of the highlights for me was the library–always my favorite room in anyone’s home–and John Hughes’ office. Call me sentimental, but to be in the rarefied air of the room where he wrote some of my favorite movies meant a lot to me. I teared up a little.
We toured the grounds, with Amber re-aerating the soil in her 4″ spiky heels, and we were both underwhelmed by the lack of flowers. I guess they literally meant grounds, since there were many bald spots where grass wasn’t even growing. I was expecting a garden resembling a Monet painting, yet this was not much different than my own back yard. Just bigger.
As Amber dropped me back at my car, I shared with her my theory on playing hookey for the day: “I’m all about the five-year plan. Five years from now, you will never remember the day you had at work. But you will remember that we toured John Hughes’ beautiful home today.“ With nary a moment’s hesitation, she agreed.
And so I leave Amber and those of you reading this with a thought from the brilliant pen of John Hughes:
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick)