So my attraction to a post I just read about director John Hughes doesn't come from a deep, long-lived love of his work in the world. Not that I wouldn't have liked his movies, but somehow I just missed them. Perhaps I was living in Fiji or Bora Bora and watching old reruns of Gilligan's Island when The Breakfast Club came out.
My attraction to the post I read about John Hughes is about the writing–not the writing in the post, but the writing she writes about. A young teen writes to John Hughes about how misunderstood she is, about how his movies captured how she feels. And he writes back. Not at first, but she keeps at it.
I love the fact that she wrote him in the first place. I love the fact that she then wrote him back to complain that he sent her a form letter after her first letter. And I love the fact that they became pen pals.
When I first met Mr Brilliant, I was so incredulous at how he would write to famous people AS IF THEY WERE REAL PEOPLE WHO WOULD RESPOND. He would call the White House Chef to ask about their gingerbread house icing recipe and get through to the chief honcho Chef himself. He would call writer William Gass AT HOME: “He’s very nice,” John said. “I called his house and just asked to talk with Mr Gass, and then without hesitation, I heard his wife say, “Bill, you have a phone call. He was very jovial.” He called former CIA director William Colby at home to talk about the politics of heroin in Southeast Asia. He talked to the janitor who cleaned up after Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed, to Judge Sirica who presided over the Watergate hearings ("We talked about boxing," John reports), and to Clyde Barrows' sister (of Bonnie and Clyde). Well, you get the picture. The list is long. Emma has learned well, writing to the U.K.-based writer of her favorite chapter books in first grade: "Why is there a pair of eyeglasses in every picture?" she asked, thrilled AND SCARED when the writer called her from England to respond.
I personally still have the handwritten letter I received from one Merrill Osmond.
Read the story of John Hughes. Then write a letter to someone who touches you, who captures something important to you–whether a painter or writer or actor or mom down the street or teacher. Keep writing to them, let them know.
I'm searching for Johnny Depp's address as we speak.
[Photo of Merrill Osmond back in the day]