• Gina Denny

Sixteen Candles is a Thing.

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

Earlier this week, I entered the Hookers and Hangers contest, posting some of the hookers (first lines of chapters) and hangers (last lines of chapters) from my novels. The most commented-upon line was:

I climb in, trying really hard not to worry about the fact that this guy has never even heard of Sixteen Candles. 

There’s actually a funny story that goes with this line. It’s one of the original lines from the first draft of this novel, but I loved it so much that it was kept all the way through the editing/rewriting process, even though it did move around in the chronology a bit.

So I put that line in my novel, just as it appears here. The female character doesn’t expect the guy she’s talking about to have the movie memorized or anything, but he has NEVER EVEN HEARD OF IT. Bonkers, right? How could a grown man not have any idea what she’s talking about when she says “Sixteen Candles”?

(I know I shouldn’t be this upset, since they are 1- Fictional characters and 2- Fictional characters of my own creation, but… there you have it.)

One of my beta readers commented that most men do NOT know what Sixteen Candles is about, and that this line was out of place, unrealistic, and just basically stupid.

I thought, “Oh, no. There’s no way I have so completely misread the pop culture landscape of America! Men my age know what ‘Sixteen Candles’ is, right? Maybe not the whole thing, but they are AWARE of it, certainly?”

So I did what any red-blooded social-media-junkie would do: I crowd sourced it. I asked Twitter and Facebook the same question:

“Men- without the help of Google, tell me what you know about ‘Sixteen Candles'”

You know what I got? About sixty responses, almost all from men in their twenties (this character is supposed to be twenty-three). Some admitted to loving it as much as their girlfriends/wives, some quoted lines back at me, some said something along the lines of “Molly Ringwold’s underpants, right?” and a bunch cracked jokes about it being a girls’ movie but they’ve been forced at to watch it at least once.

But the bottom line?

Men know what this movie is.

I win.

And this has been the single most commented-on line among my Hooker/Hanger entries, for which I received an Honorable Mention.

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Gina Denny is a writer, homeschooler, and former classroom teacher who writes about parenting and education issues. She also writes science fiction and fantasy for teens and lives near Phoenix, Arizona with her family. 

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