-Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Fred knocked dispiritedly on Tré’s door. He didn’t want to go home. He couldn’t go to The March. That left Rosie.
Rosie came to the door in one of Tré’s old tee-shirts, eye make-up smeared down to her cheekbones, hair a mess. But she was a cheerful mess.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, brightly. “God, what time is it? I didn’t get home until 6:00 am. I hope you’re not here looking for money, I’m completely tapped out. I did a little shopping yesterday. The shoes! You HAVE to see these shoes!”
Fred walked in past her, swatting away her stream of words, and sat down heavily on the couch.
“Mary paid off my bookie for me,” he said. “He came into The March while I was there and said I was owed a beating. Mary paid him off.”
“Fuck,” said Mary. “That’s rough. Well, you’ll pay her back. Once you start school, Dad will start up an allowance again. Shit, sometimes I think about going back to school so I can back on the money train.”
“It’s not just the money,” said Fred, and explained the special reason Mary had for assiduously following the letter of the law.
“Oh, please,” said Rosie. “What is the likelihood that something like that will come up again? I think she’s just being paranoid. Get her the money back and she’ll feel better.”
“Maybe I’ll sell my car,” said Fred. “That ought to be good for five thousand.”
“You can’t sell that car, dumbass,” said Rosie. “Dad’s got the title, which he loves to tell you every time you fuck up.”
“Shit,” said Fred. “She also told me I couldn’t come into the March when she was there. Mary hates me.”
“Oh, Fred,” said Rosie, sitting next to him. “You did what you do. You fuck up and then you’re sweet and people forgive you. Mary will too.”
“No she won’t,” said Fred, putting his head in his lap and mumbling, “I fucked up too much this time.”
“Oh, come on, Fred,” said Rosie. “It’s not like she could do better than you anyway.”
“Of course she can,” he said, ever and always shocked by Rosie’s callous disregard of Mary.
“OK, Fred,” said Rosie, rolling her eyes a little. “Mary’s amazing and awesome and the greatest thing on two legs. Now stop being so depressing. There are lots of different kinds of lawyers. Mary can be one of those. Shit, maybe she can be one of the ones that make a lot of money. Come on, let’s watch Springer. He’s doing a show on Club Kids and I’m thinking of radicalizing my look a little.”
Fred sat on the couch and watched some crappy daytime TV and nibbled at a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that Rosie made him. But he never stopped feeling miserable. He’d decided on a pure, all-encompassing misery to serve as penance for his sins. If Mary understood how truly terrible he felt about what he’d done, she would forgive him.
There is nothing on earth more infuriating than some hangdog man courting pitiful for forgiveness. Penance is earned not gifted. And it was shitty of Fred to decide on his own penance and then shift the burden back to Mary.
Fred is a young man who’s spent his whole life serenely certain that the right opportunity would find him; equally certain that once found, it would require very little effort on his part. Success was his birthright, and if he screwed up a few times on the way, things would eventually work themselves out. Fred was selfish and spoiled, filled with an entitlement that he was often artfully unaware of.
But there is hope for Fred, yet. Despite what Mary thinks, Fred’s feelings for her extend beyond her potential salubrious effect on his well-being. Fred’s feelings for Mary are not self-reflective and remarkably un-narcissistic, especially for a rich boy who’d been raised such that narcissism was virtue. Fred loved and admired Mary for her own ineffable Mary-ness.
Fred was kind. And Fred knew what he's done. He has the capacity for change. He will learn to be generous and train himself to thoughtfulness. There's hope for Fred yet, who has just fallen asleep with his head on the couch Rosie scoffing and guffawing at the parade of insanity on The Jerry Springer Show.