September 2, 2022, 10:00 a.m

Well… no proof. But a very fanciful assumption.

Remember the penultimate sequence Is Ferris Bueller having an off day? For those who don’t: After an incredibly full day of walking around (could he really attend a Cubs game, visit the Art Institute, dine at a fancy restaurant, and perform in the Von Steuben Day Parade all in the same day? So what did that parade have to do with traffic? How did he, Cameron, and Sloane manage to get back out of town so quickly? Oh, and they go to a hot tub afterward! Okay, okay, another time…) our eponymous hero notices late time on his girlfriend’s watch and begins a mad dash through the yards of his neighborhood, trying to get home before his parents, who are under the impression that he’s been sick in bed all day. (Spoiler: They don’t get it.)

I recently saw this scene again and for the first time noticed its similarity to the events of John Cheever “Swimmer,” in which Naddy Merrill decides to leave the cocktail party one Sunday and go home through the pools their friends and neighbors. The motivations that drive Ferris and Neddy are different (“I won’t get caught!”; “I’m drunk the hell?”), but the actions they take convey a familiar American dissatisfaction with the most American unit of existence: the suburbs. . You don’t have to run or swim through neighborhoods like the ones Ferris and Neddy live in—you have to get in your station wagon and drive 25 and hey wow did the gundersons redo the shingles? I don’t think I like the new tennis coach at the club. Can you make your hedges look like mine? For Ferris and Neddy, conformity is death before death.

There’s a coincidence even in the details of their journeys—like Neddy, Ferris (gosh, those names after a while) suddenly leaves his beloved to begin his miniature Odyssey, encountering obstacles and temptations along the way that threaten to derail him. . In Neddy’s case, it’s drinking with the Grahams, Bunkers and Levys, followed by foreboding interactions with the Hallorans, Saxons and Biswangers (seriously, those names!); for Ferris, it’s almost getting caught by his vengeful sister, stopping to flirt with two women sunbathing, almost getting caught by his no-nonsense father, pissing off his family in a house he can’t avoid for some reason, and finally almost was caught by a justifiably angry Principal Rooney. The endings certainly diverge (I won’t spoil Cheever), but it’s fair to say that John and John played rhyming music.

It’s not just the act of mirroring that makes these stories kin – think of Ferris reading Cheever’s description of Neddy:

“It could be compared to a summer’s day…”

“Life did not limit him…”

“…he was decidedly original, and had a dim and modest idea of ​​himself as a legendary figure.”

What happens on summer days? You don’t go to school.

Is Ferris’ life limited? He controls his own attendance record and has the easiest parents in the world.

Does he have a vision of himself as a legendary figure? He certainly has an idea about that fourth wall.

(Tossing a coin: I’ll bet that at least anything teenage Neddy Merrill missed nine days school.)

Apart from Cheever’s passing mention an essay on Hughes wrote close friend PJ O’Rourke, there is no Google-able connective tissue between Hughes and Cheever. I can’t confirm that the former has read the latter, and funnily enough, it would be better if he never did (take what, the original premise!). Cheever made it his life’s work to fake document his teenage home in Ossining, New York (aka Shady Hill, Bullet Park), Hughes made it his life’s work to fake document his teenage home in Northbrook, Illinois (aka Shermer ), and even if we can’t find a direct link, it seems that their creative concerns are so similar that it’s more than a coincidence. As Cheever’s drinking buddy Raymond Carver wrote, “You know, we wake up from dreams,” but what if you wake up with another dream, the American Dream, and it’s not enough?

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