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Sunday, January 25, 2009

When was your last Ferris Day?

Remember the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)? Mathew Broderick plays Ferris Bueller, a high school senior who "decides to skip school on a spring day by faking an illness, and then encourages his girlfriend Sloane and his hypochondriac best friend Cameron to spend the day in Chicago as one of their last flings before they head off to different colleges. Ferris manages to convince Cameron to let them use his father's restored 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California to travel into the city."

From a review I read online, "One Man's Struggle To Take It Easy. Ferris Bueller. Larger than life. Blessed with a magical sense of serendipity. He's a model for all those who take themselves too seriously. A guy who knows the value of a day off." That sums it up nicely. If you haven't seen the movie, or it's been awhile, go rent it. Here is a video homage I found on

In the late 80’s this movie was my inspiration. Although I didn’t have a friend with a classic sports car, and I didn’t get up on a float and sing Dunke Shoen, I did a pretty fair job of emulating Ferris Bueller. I recall one particularly spectacular day...

I got up and got ready for work, as if I were going to work, but before I left home I called in sick to my boss's voicemail. After that, the day was mine!

I drove downtown to the Grand Avenue Mall (Milwaukee, WI) in the hopes of catching my friend Nikki before she went to her job at Woolworths. This was before cell phones, so I used a pay phone to call her when I realized that malls don’t open at the same time my office did. Duh! I called Nikki repeatedly until she finally gave in and called in sick. Just like Ferris, I wasn’t going to give up. I went to pick her up and we went out to breakfast. I think we went to George Webbs. (Man I miss George Webbs. I wish they had them here in Illinois. Their chili is the best!) Then we headed over to Miller Brewery for a tour. (Did you know they gave free samples? For real! I didn't know that at the time.) After the tour we drove over to Milwaukee County Stadium (that would be the old stadium, not the newfangled domed Miller Park) to see if the Brewers had a home game. They did! We got tickets, upper deck seats, but since it was an afternoon game no one was there. We snuck down to the good seats and yelled "Hey batter, batter. Swing batter." Yeah, that day we recited a lot of lines from the movie. We were total Ferris geeks. After the game we went to our usual hang-out and bragged to our other friends about our "Ferris Day". Our friends thought we were nuts.

On another "Ferris Day" I called up my friend Roxanne. Same drill. We called in sick. This time we drove around aimlessly for awhile, and then started heading south. We drove to Chicago! We stopped at Irving’s Red Hots for Chicago Style dogs in Skokie, then headed downtown. We spent the day driving around downtown and along the lakefront. I hadn’t been to Chicago since I was a kid when we went to visit my 99 year old Great Great Great Aunt. This trip was much better.

To quote Ferris Bueller:
"Life moves pretty fast...
If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
I realize with today’s economy it isn’t wise to call in sick when you’re not. Heck, it’s not even wise to call in sick if you’re actually sick! I think you can still appreciate the spirit of the movie if you take one of your usual days off, call a friend, get in the car or take a bus and then fly by the seat of your pants! No plan. Just get together and head out. Do something you haven’t done in awhile, or better yet, do something you’ve never done before. Go to the Art Institute or a museum. Go take a brewery tour or a wine tour. Go to a sporting event. Go to a show (theatre). In Chicago they have Hot Tix where you can get tickets the day of the show to area theatre. Hot Tix is made for a Ferris Day. Sometimes they even have tickets to sold out shows. If you live in a small town, drive to the nearest big city and explore. The key is not to have a rigid plan or know exactly in advance what you are going to do. I’m serious you Type A personality types! You can start off with a brainstormed list of ideas if you must, but no plan. Seriously! That’s what makes it so much fun.

So get out there and go have a “Ferris Day”! You deserve it!

Lola's Diner

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