My Old Friend Ferris

By Diane Stark

I don’t remember the first time I watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but I know I’ve watched it voluntarily more times than any other movie. I say “voluntarily” because I’ve definitely seen Land Before Time, Frozen, the High School Musical trilogy, and ALL the Star Wars movies more times, but I didn’t really choose to watch those.  For many years, Ferris Bueller was my go-to flick.

Part of it was the happy-go-lucky attitude the movie celebrates.  Who doesn’t want to take a day off from their responsibilities, steal their friend’s dad’s Ferrari, and gallivant through the city for a day?  I only ditched school twice throughout my high school career – once on my Senior Skip Day and once when my older brother was a senior and he let me skip and hang out with his friends for the day. Neither time was as epic as Ferris’ day off, but I always loved imagining a day like that. None of my friends’ dads owned Ferraris, but we could’ve borrowed their Honda for sure.

The other reason – okay, the main reason – I loved the movie was Ferris himself. I had a huge crush on Matthew Broderick, the guy who played Ferris. My friends and I used to buy Teen Beat Magazine, so we could get photos of our crushes to hang in our bedrooms. My best friend liked Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains fame, so I’d trade her for ones of Matthew. My walls were covered with photos of him throughout my middle school years. When I got my first actual boyfriend, the photos of Matthew came down, but I continued to have a soft spot in my heart for him.

I’ll never forget how upset I was when he married Sarah Jessica Parker. Although Matthew is 12 years my senior, I’d always imagined that he’d wait for me to grow up so we could get married.

So with Matthew off the market, I grew up and got married myself. I had a son, and then got pregnant with a little girl. As I got close to my due date, I made arrangements for my parents to travel 150 miles from their house to mine to watch my son while I went to the hospital to give birth. I was absolutely terrified of having my parents drive all that way, only to have a false alarm and have the hospital send me home. Then my parents would have to go back to their house and return to my house when I went into labor for real. I knew they would understand and not be upset with me, but I really, really wanted to avoid that situation.

That’s why I was ever so grateful when my obstetrician offered to schedule an induction one week past my due date. I was able to call my mom and tell her exactly when to come. There would be no false alarms or panicked midnight phone calls.

It was settled. I would go into the hospital on the morning of April 7 to have my baby. I would be freshly showered, and my bag would be packed. My parents would arrive the night before and we could enjoy a nice dinner together before I drifted off to sleep for the last time as a mother of only one child. Everything was planned.

Until labor pains woke me at midnight on April 5. “It’s not supposed to be this way,” I thought. And then all of my false alarm worries came rushing back. I remembered going to the hospital when I was pregnant with my son, and the nurse told me I was “still too happy,” so this couldn’t possibly be the real thing. I was so embarrassed when they sent me back home.

Before I called my parents to drive down, I needed to be sure I was really in labor. For a while, I tried to stay in bed and go back to sleep. But the pains kept waking me up. Finally, I got up and sat on the couch with a notepad and a pen. I started recording the minutes between the pains.

And I nearly drove myself nuts. “I’ve got to find something to do to pass the time,” I thought.

And that’s when I remembered my old friend Ferris. It had been a few years since I’d last watched the movie, but I knew it was the perfect film to take my mind off my current situation. I made a deal with myself that if I was still having pains when the movie was over, I would call my parents.

But by the time Ferris was singing on the parade float, I was in tears. “Mom,” I said into the phone. “It’s time. I know the doctor scheduled it for Monday, but I’m in labor now.”

Mom promised to be at our house as soon as possible, which was nearly three hours. So I finished watching my movie. Despite everything, Ferris still made me smile. He was like an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed his company.

When the movie was over, I woke up my husband and told him my parents were on the way. When we arrived at the hospital, I was definitely not “too happy,” and they let me stay. Later, my doctor would tell me that even as she’d scheduled my induction, she’d doubted I would last that long. So much for my carefully laid plans.

Early the next afternoon, my sweet baby girl was born. She was seven pounds, five ounces, and perfect in every way.

That sweet little girl is a teenager herself now, and while Ferris isn’t her favorite movie, we have watched it together a time or two.

Ferris is still like an old friend, reminding me that we all need to take a day off now and then.

But I still don’t have any friends who own a Ferrari.

About this writer

  • Diane Stark

    Diane Stark

    Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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