Samantha, Roberta, Chrissy and Teeny. To many women who grew up during the ’90s, these four names immediately conjure up images of the above movie poster, first kisses and the nostalgia of childhood best friendship.
When it comes to magnum opuses of friendship, men have 1986’s “Stand by Me.” Women have the 1995 cult classic “Now and Then.” Though it was initially panned by critics, the movie about four young women coming of age during the summer of 1970 became beloved by a generation of young women in the mid-’90s. I for one owned it on VHS and watched it more times than I can remember, always rewinding and watching again during the scene where young Roberta (Christina Ricci) and Scott Wormer (Devon Sawa, a.k.a. your imaginary childhood boyfriend) share an awkward first kiss.
The movie’s opening shows Demi Moore as grown-up Samantha, driving back to her hometown in Indiana, with a car full of cigarette butts and cassette tapes. ”Thomas Wolfe once said, ‘You can’t go home again.’ Well that’s great for old Tom, but he wasn’t a chick who made a pact with her friends when she was 12 to get together whenever any one of them needed each other,” she says in voiceover.
If “Now and Then” was made today, there would be fewer packs of Marlboros and many more iPhones, but watching it 20 years later just reaffirms how timeless its overarching themes are.
Here are 12 lessons that are just as relevant in 2015 as they were in 1995:
1. Even the most mundane tasks can be fun if you have the right company. Painting a garage never looked so good.
2. Girls are fearsome creatures. And if you throw green-dyed water balloons at us, we may just steal your clothes while you’re skinny dipping in the river. As Roberta says: “We always pay our debts.”
3. Sometimes a kiss is allowed to just be a kiss. Roberta may share a sweet smooch and a Coke with Scott, but afterwards she keeps the specialness of the moment for herself. She doesn’t go on to marry him and have his babies, and that makes it even better.
4. Don’t underestimate women, during sporting events or otherwise. We can play softball with the best of them (if we happen to be so athletically inclined).
5. When in doubt, dance it out. Also, if you dance it out on your bike, you’ll look extra cool.
6. Treating divorce as though it’s shameful is toxic. When Samantha’s parents separate, they are the first in their pre-planned community to do so. Divorce is never easy, but going through it without having stigma attached to the split makes it a hell of a lot easier.
7. A woman will always stand up for her best friends. Even if that involves jumping into a fight after a bully insults your friend’s dead mother.
8. There’s no such thing as a perfectly happy family life. As Teeny explains, “There are no perfect families. It’s normal for things to be shitty.” A little depressing? Yes. But understanding that perfection is a myth makes embracing the beautiful parts of your life that much easier.
9. Solid sexual education is key. No, women’s vaginas are not gardens, Chrissy’s mom. And French kissing cannot get you pregnant.
10. The emotional joy — and trauma — you feel during your childhood is just as real as what you feel during adulthood. Remember that when you’re tempted to look down on fangirls or make a comment about “this generation.”
11. Embrace your body just as it is. Life is too short to have a battle with yourself forever.
12. When everything falls to shit, it’s your friendships that will carry you through. Other women can be the world’s greatest support system. Be good to them.<3 <3 <3
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