Editor’s Note: Everyone welcome longtime commentator and even longer time friend Gillian to her first official Head Over Feels post. Gillian is the brains and organizational power behind CommuniCon, is constantly inspired by Harry Styles’ fashion choices, and generally just likes liking things. Follow her on Twitter @uhohmorshedios!
Somewhere in L.A., Romy White and Michele Weinberger are looking through their respective closets (in the same house – I don’t care that Michele may have married Sandy Frink and Romy may have also settled down into a(nother) life partnership), lamenting that they have nothing to wear to their upcoming 30th high school reunion.
That’s right B Group, it’s been TWENTY (2-muh-fuh-0) YEARS since Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion graced our eyeballs and ear holes and joy bones and nostalgia receptors. Two decades since Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow (courtesy of writer Robin Schiff) showed us what lifelong friendship looks like when it’s set to the tune of Cyndi Lauper and her fabulous, puffy-sleeved, big-haired friends. One whole score (BOOM! Lincoln Lawyered) since Janeane Garofalo ruined Romy & Michele’s big lie for them, but hey, it was ok. At least it taught us that *everybody* made *somebody’s* life hell in high school.
Unfortunately for all of us, Romy & Michele’s 10th reunion predated social media. Can you imagine a Social Network sequel about Danny Weller suing Romy & Michele over their joint profile picture?
Just because our girls didn’t get the chance to write a listicle or a threaded tweet series or even a MySpace blog packed full of wisdom, doesn’t mean they didn’t teach us plenty. Luckily, you don’t need to worry yourself trying to remember all the life lessons hiding behind those platform shoes and shiny dresses, because Head Over Feels has got your back brace, girl: we’ve compiled them here for you. So run to the nearest diner for a Business Women’s special (to go) and then settle in with you cheeseburger and fries and Diet Coke (God, we wish we had your discipline) because it’s time for Romy and Michele’s Life School Reunion!
Lesson 1: You look so good with blonde hair and black roots, it’s like not even funny.
Take it from someone who spent years thinking “I don’t know. Lipstick just looks *weird* on me” and now owns and wears the hell out of over 20 different shades – including various purples, multiple greens, and an absurd spectrum from bright baby pink (it’s a thing) to deoxygenated blood red: The only thing you need to “pull off” a look is to want to pull it off. Fashion dos and don’ts are nonsense. Wear whatever the hell you think is fun whenever the hell you want to. I mean, maybe honor a few exceptions – like wearing white to someone else’s wedding (unless it’s an emergency – like you look REALLY good in white) or showing too much skin in a corporate law firm where you’d like to continue working. But otherwise, if you feel good in something – whether it’s because it’s flattering or because you just straight up love how ridiculous it is and can’t help yourself – rock the hell out of it, baby. The most flattering look is the one that makes you feel inspired by your own self.
You think you don’t have the right shaped face for supershort hair – CHOP IT. Hair grows back. Just ask Harry Styles.
Excuse me for one second; I’ve lost my train of thought.*
Phew, anyway moving on. Always wanted to try bleach or green or neon orange hair? DO IT. Keep walking by that pale pink jumpsuit in the shop window and telling yourself it won’t be flattering or you have nowhere to wear it but you can’t stop obsessing over how you want it anyway? Double-check your account balance and then WALK IN THE DAMN STORE. No one will notice it’s not the ideal color or silhouette for you when you’re beaming and strutting into the dinner you organized solely so you had a reason to wear it. No, it won’t always be easy to get to this point. And yes, learning what you look and feel good in is really valuable. But don’t let that practical knowledge determine ALL your clothing or hair or makeup choices. And definitely don’t let magazine tips or your mother’s opinions keep you from exploring and experimenting. Just because a dress exacerbates the particular genetic betrayal that is your legacy, doesn’t mean you don’t look really cute. GO FOR IT, HEATHER!
Lesson 2: It’ll pay off going to those clubs every night.
You never know when you’re going to have the opportunity to do an impromptu interpretive dance to Time After Time with your best friend and a special-rubber-inventing (no, not for *that* you juvenile), helicopter-owning, huge-notebook needing (yes, exactly for *that* you juvenile) gazillionaire. Do you really want to be caught unawares?
And even if you think there’s no way that’ll ever happen (who hurt you and stole your belief in magic?) this wisdom still applies to you. Because, basically, all we mean is: just have fun with your best friends as often as you get the opportunity. Even if there are no guys there that night – just dance with yourselves. Synchronized or not.
And if you get the chance – DEFINITELY extract yourself from a boring conversation with “I cut my foot before and my shoe is filling up with blood.” Works like a charm.
Lesson 3: Only if Romy can dance with us.
MY HEART. Get you a friend who will consider your feelings even when she’s on the precipice of being swept off her feet. Someone who won’t discard you at the first sign that Sandy looks so rich and has never given up hope that you’ll dance with him. And look for the kind of romantic partner who will agree without hesitation when your friend needs to be included in your plans. Even when those plans have been 10 years in the making.
Your friends obviously don’t need to be part of every element of your romantic relationships. They shouldn’t be. Your romantic life needs its own room to breathe, just like your platonic life does. But if you’ve got yourself a dude or lady who can’t or won’t understand when your friend needs you more – that’sss a dealbreaker, ladies. Sometimes the moment calls for JUST your best friend – like when dumbass Billy Christianson and jerkass Christy Masters play a prank on you that leads to your hopes being dashed all over the prom floor. In that moment, the best, and maybe only, thing for your shuddering heart is for your Michele to offer sweetly “I’ll dance with you, Romy” as Cyndi Lauper assures you that when you’re lost, you can look, and you will find her.
But other times, it’s really nice to hang with your friendS, plural. And if your friend has chosen her partner well, he’s become your friend too.
Lesson 4: Be the Mary. Be the Rhoda. You’re just as cute as each other. And in some cultures, maybe cuter.
Rhoda Morgenstern is second best to no one, even Mary Richards. And Mary would be the first to tell you that. By the end of their 10th reunion, Romy and Michele would be the second and third. In unison, probably. People have different personalities, different talents, different things to offer. And when all those characteristics combine together into a person, there’s no point in comparing her to any other. Because unless one person is the current President of the United States, neither is worse than the other. They’re just different.
You don’t have to have everything in common with your friend. Having different strengths means that together you’re stronger than you are on your own. Inventions need an inventor AND a designer. The best friendships – and relationships in general – are the ones where each person balances the other out. When you can’t see how great your lives are right now, she can. When you’re in a sloppy, teary funk, her domineering side can come out to yell you out of it. And when your over-excitement about a really good week at the boutique makes you think you can pay off your small business loan *this week,* she can gently remind you that you’re still about 2 years away from that. If you’re the kind of person who sarcastically boo hoos at Vivian being shunned by those salesgirl bitches in Beverly Hills, it’s nice to have a friend who will get a little emotional and point out that it *is* kind of sad, though. The truly important thing is that no matter how many times you watch Pretty Woman together, neither of you ever gets tired of making fun of it.
Lesson 5: No matter how much you accumulate, there’s still one thing you may just not have.
We all know this lesson. We’ve heard it a million times in a million ways. Money can’t buy happiness, acquiring possessions won’t fill the void in your heart, etc. etc. infinity. And even though I maintain that wealthy people who can’t figure out how to buy happiness just aren’t creative enough, I’m basically onboard with this philosophy. And the writers of Romy & Michele clearly are too.
It wasn’t enough for Sandy to be the most successful person in Sagebrush High’s Class of 1987 – I mean, if you define success as having a house in Aspen, or one in Acapulco, a penthouse in New York, a mansion in Malibu, a 60-ft yacht, an eight-seat Windstar, a Bell Jet Ranger, a Bentley, a personal trainer, a full-time chef, a live-in masseuse, and a staff of 24. Even with all of that, he didn’t feel like he had everything, because he still wanted someone to share it with. And it didn’t matter that the A Group seemed to have everything that Romy & Michele didn’t: husbands, kids, houses and cars and pastel dresses to match any type of frozen drink you could dream up – because they didn’t have what Romy & Michele had. A best friend. A 50/50 partner. Maybe they can’t get cool new jobs and boyfriends on a dime. And they don’t have a car of their own. But they each have someone who truly understands them. And after over a decade of friendship, they’re still like the funnest people each other knows.
They still delight in finding things in common with one another: like hating to puke in public, or wanting to fold scarves at the exact same time. They say in heaven, love comes first (ok, literally no one other than Belinda Carlisle has ever said that) and these two beautiful, supportive idiots have made heaven a place on earth. And if Romy’s calculations were correct, they finished paying it off like 18 years ago.
Lisa Luder may work for Vogue, and Travis McKinney may play in the NFL, but Romy & Michele are the most successful people in that graduating class. And don’t you love how they can say that to each other and they know they’re not being conceited?
Lesson 6: Those aren’t the actual executives. Those are models.
Things aren’t always what they seem. People definitely aren’t. The greased-up, shirtless golden boy you used to dream about being wheelchair-bound and in love with you might turn out to be a disgusting slob who doesn’t even know whether his wife’s baby-to-be is his. That brain-dead, redneck asshole might turn out to be Justin Theroux. Casey Degan is gay, Petra. It’s impossible to really know what someone’s life is like, or will be like, especially when you’re in high school. Don’t assume someone is happy or worth your time or has a great life just because it seems so from the outside.
And on the other hand, try not to write people off without reason. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you have to talk to every stranger on the subway just because he looks longingly at you or keeps trying to make small talk through your ear buds. And you definitely don’t have to say yes to Sandy Frink just because he asks you to dance and you’ll probably never see each other again. But just as some people will disappoint you, others will surprise you in lovely ways. Try to keep your assumptions in check a little. It may not be in fashion these days to base opinions on actual facts, but it’s still the best way to go.
Lesson 7: Go back out there as yourself and just have fun, like you always do. The hell with everyone else.
We’ve saved the most important lesson for last, and it’s Peggy Carter-approved. Never let your value be defined by someone else. I’ll be damned if I can say this better than Michele did, so here you: “I never knew that we weren’t that great in high school. I mean, we always had so much fun together, I thought high school was a blast. And until you told me that our lives weren’t good enough, I thought everything since high school was a blast.” And you know what? So did Romy. Until she starting filling out that stupid reunion survey and realized her life didn’t fit neatly in response to her senior class president’s unimaginative questions. Just like you shouldn’t go to high school reunions if your sole reason is to impress people still stuck back in Tucson who you haven’t even thought about in ten years, you shouldn’t base your opinions of yourself on what those people – or anyone else – might think of you.
People are going to have a lot of opinions about you, and some of them are going to make you feel like crap. Some of them are going to make you question yourself and feel insecure. And while self-reflection is never a bad thing, determining your self-worth based on other people’s nasty comments or eye rolls or unsolicited opinions is definitely not where it’s at. Knowing that is one thing; actually living by it is another. Even the least-fucks-giving, baddest bitch among us doesn’t feel completely self-assured all the time. And even people we know are jerks can sting us with a negative comment, however baseless our inner goddess knows it is. When that inevitably happens, it’s ok to feel hurt and pissed and even retreat to another room to throw your tiny, impractical purse and cry for a while. Just don’t let those assholes and their dumb opinions keep you down too long. You might feel like you can’t go back out there, but Michele knows you can. Other people might not understand you when you’re the only ones who don’t look like you’re going to a hoe-down. That’s on them. Pick up your tiny purse, get out to that borrowed XJS convertible to do a quick trunk change, and storm back in as your iridescent-mini-dressed kickass self and tell those mean girls you don’t give a flying fuck what they think.
A few more things before we go: Gummi Bears, Jelly Beans, and Candy Corn Kernels of Wisdom
- That thing we said above about not going to your high school reunion if the only reason is to show people you’re better than them now? If you can show up in a helicopter, that’s an exception. Definitely do that.
- “Now he’s going to feel what it’s like to wait.” Sure, living well is fantastic. But sometimes revenge is the best revenge.
- Alan Cumming should be in literally everything.
- So should Lisa Kudrow.
- If a customer is a bitch to you from the first second you come into contact with her, you can put your index finger in her face and tell her to keep waiting while you call your best friend because she will NEVER GUESS who you just ran into.
- You can get into fights on the side of the road and still be friends. If it’s someone you’d be so sad to not be friends with when you’re really old – but I mean like really really old – it’s at least worth apologizing and trying to work it out. Especially if she’s the type of friend who will jump in, mid-fight, to defend you from jerks who are trying to make you feel shitty.
- Saying yes doesn’t mean you can’t say no later. If a guy asks you to say “Man Stallion, fill me with your giant love wand,” you can refuse. Even if 5 minutes before, you said “close the blinds and we’ll work something out.” Even if *30 seconds* before, you enthusiastically said “You are Columbus and I am America – discover me!” Doesn’t matter. “What?! No, I’m sorry, I don’t think so” is still a perfectly acceptable thing to affirm.
- Give yourself permission to hold out for better. There’s no shame in working for a discount outlet. And we all sometimes have to take jobs we don’t love or even like. But if you can afford to, turn down jobs that make you scream internally and visibly cringe. It will probably be scary. And you might feel like you’re being foolish, but if your inner voice is saying “I’d like to go away now,” listen to her.
- If you’re unemployed and your last job was as a salesgirl, you should abso-fucking-lutely feel free to sell yourself as a freelance fashion consultant.
That’s a lot of life lessons packed into an hour and 32 minutes! We hope you found something worthwhile to write down and stick on your car visor mirror or bedroom door to remind yourself on the daily. (God, wouldn’t it be great if there was this stickum on the back of that paper so if you laid it on top of a wall or mirror it would just STAY, like, *without* a paper clip?!”)
Did we miss one? Want to share your favorite line or bit? Know the chemical formula for glue? Hit us up in the comments!