Recently, I attended “An Evening with Andrew McCarthy” at the Rialto Theater in Westfield, New Jersey. As a Westfield native, Andrew added this event as part of his book tour for his latest work, Walking With Sam. Owner of Acting Out, and one of my besties, Roberta Loew, moderated this amazingly successful event, which sold out three times!
For me, and many in the audience, Andrew McCarthy represents an era in our lives that seems like another lifetime—the 80s. Upon seeing Andrew, I could hear The Psychedelic Furs song, “Pretty in Pink”, in my head. Indeed, we grew up on Pretty in Pink, and other notable John Hughes films, like The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, to name a few.
At the time, life seemed simpler. Void of today’s constant connectedness, we spent many hours waiting by the phone for that guy we had a crush on to call. We often experienced boredom, which led to bursts of creativity. We wore neon, had big hair, and made mixed tapes. We spent many hours at play, without supervision. We reveled in dance parties, sleepovers, and watching movies.
Andrew astutely shared that often when 80s film fans approach him, after the initial introduction, he can observe how they are delving into their subconscious, and for a moment, are brought back in time. I can attest to this. At the end of the evening, when he signed a copy of his book for me and posed for pictures, I envisioned my teenage self, big hair in all its glory, full of energy and optimism. That’s how I felt in the 80s, hopeful, excited, relatively fearless, and anxiety-free.
Nostalgia aside, I learned a lot that evening. To me, Andrew came across as genuine, down to earth, and insightful. He indulged us with stories from Pretty in Pink. Notably, how when having to a shoot the new ending (where he and Molly Ringwald kiss by the BMW) the team had to get him a wig as he had shaved his head for another role. He quipped that had they all known how successful the film was going to be, they would have invested in a better wig.
From a deeper perspective, he shared how devastating the Brat Pack label was for him at the time; it essentially lumped him into a category, and he no longer felt seen.
At that time, when he felt lost and unseen, he embarked on his journey to walk 500 miles in Spain’s Camino de Santiago. Indeed, on that journey, he rediscovered himself. Fast forward to Walking With Sam; where Andrew saw an opportunity to bond with his adult son, Sam. At that time, Sam too, much like a younger Andrew, was discovering himself. Andrew knew that walking the Camino for Sam would scratch the itch.
Though I haven’t read the book yet, I know how it ends; Andrew and Sam had a meaningful, unforgettable journey where they truly connected.
That evening, I think many of us in the audience felt connected with Andrew and each other. In fact, I met two lovely women from my hometown of Mahwah, New Jersey. When speaking with them, and talking about who we mutually knew, I was flooded with childhood memories.
For me, “An Evening with Andrew McCarthy” was a night full of nostalgia, connection, meaningful dialogue, and memories. To boot, Andrew shared many thought-provoking experiences, about life, relationships, and discovering ourselves.