Dear VHS Diary,
This month was full of candy hearts, thrifted tapes, too much chocolate, and sad late-night phone calls. As Cupid came and went, the static of manic ups and downs stayed. I find myself swinging faster from one ledge to the other. In the eye-opening buzz of an “up” I bought myself a 70s “Get Well Soon” card for $1 from an old junk store. It now hangs over my writing desk and I look at it for too long ever day.
For a short beautiful time in the world everything was red and pink and in the shape of a heart, so it wasn’t all bad. I also watched the 1985 film Breaking All the Rules, which I’m thankful for because it was terrible and absolutely perfect for February. How on earth this film didn’t take full advantage of all the Valentine-goodness, I’ll never know. Between the candy-heart-esque pink undies, the stuffed animal mice that hold plush red hearts, the ‘girls best friend’ diamond that is stolen and hidden in one of those hearts as the b-plot unfolds, to finding true love in a single day, it’s a missed opportunity.
This one really has it all, and it upholds the sacred understanding that at the end of the day nothing matters so it’s okay to be fucking crazy whenever you want. Carpe Diem, bitches, because when you’re 6 feet under no one is gonna give a damn that you had sex in that roller coaster or wore heels with fishnets all day at the fair. I promise. Our main babe Debbie, played by Carolyn Dunn, is our fashion focus because she is a beautiful sight to behold. Shout out to the costume and wardrobe department on this one – Mariane Carter, Laurie Drew, and Louise Gagne.
We’re riding the high with Debbie right from the start because it’s 24 hours until summer vacation ends and she’s gotta do everything she can before her soul is sucked out again by no. 2 pencils and gross dudes. I get it.
We meet her on the bedroom floor barely covered. She’s in a teeny yellow athletic crop and pink underwear, the exact outfit I wear on my own bedroom floor when I’m too overwhelmed to move. She’s a babe after my own heart.
She’s owning the 80s pop prep look and we are here to eat that shit up because she’s pulling it off effortlessly on that white shag rug rolling her eyes at her mom.
We are totally unsure what she’s doing, but that doesn’t matter because there’s something to be said for a girl who’s trying. Also the blue matching shoes and socks are speaking volumes. This outfit is absolutely stunning and beautiful and I would want nothing less from an opening introductory scene.
When she’s forced by mom to go to the salon, her look in this mirror is EVERYTHING. The dress, the necklace, the fucking hair is too perfect for words.
When she’s spun around to see herself in the aftermath, she looks much worse. We can tell she’s starting to take a turn.
With an ode to a gust of wind in a cute summer dress we get a true reveal of the beloved bubblegum pink panties.
This gust of wind is also felt by Jack who at this very moment is also feeling the final itch before school starts. He will eventually meet Debbie and when he finally sees these panties again, it’s a really cute moment that I wish was done more with articles of clothing and ‘meet-cute play’ in film.
The cross-back on this white summer dress is stunning. Tell the world that these need to come back. We are the fools who think that all is well in the world with her prissy rich girl bob and this perfect summer dress because things take a nightmarish turn with her look that comes practically out of nowhere.
Here’s what we know; Uncontrollable sadness has no place in the modern world, but a bad hairstyle sure does. This reveal is paralyzing. This hair sucks in pretty much every way. Sure, it’s supposed to be edgy. We get it. It’s high 80s pop with a punk flair and it’s overly done even for the 80s. It’s Dollar Store Madonna and in case we’ve missed the overall boundary-pushing look, we get a shirt that helps us out. We take notice of the manic moment and let ourselves go into the impossible world of this film. Like, whatever it takes to make you feel alive is what you should go for. Always.
If it’s anyone that could look the least bad in this hairstyle, it would be Debbie. But it waxes and wanes into the consciousness too often, sometimes pulling us in, mostly pushing us out of the overall arch. It’s a fucking distraction. However, the messy blue eye-shadow and cherry-red lip is a killer combo especially if you’re gunning to make it with hot boys you meet on a bus headed for the carnival. It just makes sense.
Let’s just get it out of the way now, the bestie is a 10/10 the entire film.
While we take time to ponder how much product is in Debbie’s hair, we are in awe of the incredible bathroom graffiti with hearts and brightly colored scribbles. Also Debbie’s earrings choice is a good one. A sparkly dangle on one ear, a classic two-tone 80s geometric stud on the other.
When we finally get a full look at the edgy geometric belt, the wrist cuff, the cropped shirt with the neck line cut out, the red nails that match her lipstick, the heels, the fishnets… we get the full image of a girl that is spiraling but doesn’t care. She’s into Jack because he is cute and he won her that mouse and that’s all that matters. She is savage through and through, in an endearing way. She’s someone who understands the value of being alive. She knows the paradox of living when you don’t want to while others die when they want to live. It’s real, and she get’s it.
The moment Jack realizes that the girl he’s been falling for at the fair is the same girl with the prissy bob in the summer dress from earlier he literally says he fell for her twice in one day and honestly that fucking line is all anyone who has ever lived on this dying and gorgeous earth wants to hear — and it was all because of a perfect bubblegum pink pair of underwear.
Debbie know’s its okay to forget the protocols, to relax into the things you can’t fucking change, and make the best of what you have.
Fuck it all, no one knows why we are here and others aren’t. We don’t get those answers. We only get today. We only get 24 hours before we might swing to the other ledge again, ready to jump for good.
VHS Diary, here’s what I’ve learned:
“Get Well Soon” cards only work when you buy them for someone else, and don’t ever underestimate a great pair of pink panties.
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