Save Rooney

rooneyWhen I was in Grade 11 there was – how shall I say – an incident. It involved the high school band, an overnight stay, a third-floor window and some water balloons. It was not the perfect crime.

The teacher chaperoning us was livid. I had never been in any of his classes, and we’d in fact had limited interaction over the years, so when he snarled at me, “It’s about time someone took you down a peg or two,” I was shocked. Not shocked enough to wipe that smirk off my face but definitely surprised.

Here was a teacher who, believe it or not, didn’t like me.

I was not beloved by all.

And the way he said it made me realize that there were possibly others who likewise thought I was too big for my britches. But, come on, I was first clarinet.

Even though my punishment was to spend afternoons sweeping the school’s student smoking lobby – an area known as the Mud Room – I didn’t feel much remorse. I was a teenager, and it was my mission to try to get away with as much jerky behaviour as possible. And that teacher? Well, he just wasn’t cool.

A few years later, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off became a generational celebration of bucking the system, a system that had the audacity to try to educate us. Ferris and all he got away with – that was living the dream. And what instrument did Ferris play? The clarinet! Exactly.

And Principal Rooney? Oh, that patsy, that square, that Wile E. Coyote in a cheap, blue suit. I bet he busted kids for water balloons all day long.

All very well and good, as a Rooney might say, but now I work at a high school, and I recently spent far too much energy trying to bust a kid I felt sure was trying to pull a fast one. That’s right, I said “pull a fast one.”

Did it really matter that the boy, who we’ll call “Fueller,” appeared to have taken advantage of a change in routine to skip a mandatory lunch? Did I later need to trot across campus so I could catch him – “A-HA!” – coming out of his last class, only to learn that (the plot thickens) he hadn’t show up? Did I have to go sneaking around the gym looking (to no avail) for Fueller after school?

Of course I did! The kid was up to no good! I just knew it!

Did I think about this through the weekend? I did. “Don’t forget to grab him at morning assembly,” I told myself. Was he at morning assembly? He wasn’t.


Did I rat him out for not showing up at morning assembly? Darn straight I did! This was getting big. A pattern was emerging, a blatant disregard for rules, a slippery slope.

After further skulking, I finally found Fueller. He saw me coming and whipped out a signed note from the health centre, stating that he had been there last Friday from 12:30 to 4:30.

Did I let it go? Of course not. I contacted the nurse. She couldn’t confirm when Fueller arrived because she had been away, but he was definitely there from 2:30 to 4:30.

Ahhhh, don’t you see? Fueller could easily have turned a “2:30” into a “12:30.” See? See? Are we really going to let him get away with this?

That’s when I realized the truth: the hero of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is Principal Rooney.

A tragic hero, really, brought low by his obsession for an entitled, chronic truant. Ferris is a rebel, sure, but is he breaking the rules for the good of mankind, to fight for the downtrodden, for love? No, he breaks the rules to do all the things he could easily do on the weekend. And what kind of parade happens on a school day anyway?

He wasn't even invited to this parade.

He wasn’t even invited to this parade!

Ferris is a jerk, not to mention a bit of a bully (poor Cameron…). Ferris grows up to be the guy who drives up the shoulder in stalled traffic and noses into the lane at the merge. He’s the guy who says, “Absolutely I’ll call you…” He’s the guy who eats a co-worker’s yogurt from the staff room fridge.

Rooney’s noble quest, for the good of society, is to keep little Ferris Buellers from turning into big Ferris Buellers.

Where would I be today if some cliché-spouting teacher hadn’t taken me down a peg or two? No doubt I would still be throwing actual balloons out of third-story windows instead of these metaphorical balloons I lob today.

God bless you, Principal Rooney. And I’ll get you next time, Fueller!

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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32 Responses to Save Rooney

  1. List of X says:

    But aren’t you letting Fueller get away with changing 2 into 12, and missing school? I do not see anything in your post about Fueller being rightfully punished, and if you let him avoid punishment now, he’s certain to grow up to be a murderer and tailgater.

  2. franhunne4u says:

    Since you have been through 4 children of your own, you should know all the tricks, shouldn’t you?

  3. Oh, cruel life…I loved Ferris and now I spend my days trying to figure out how to catch the next Ferris. What happened to Ferris? Watch Mathew Brodrick in Election…

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    “but now I work at a high school”—Ah, how the tables have turned. If only you could have foreseen your future when you were a teenager. You would’ve brought your own self down a peg. 😉

  5. pinklightsabre says:

    I think those pivotal kind of recent generational movies include this one, The Breakfast Club, and Garden State. That shows how much I get out, which isn’t much. But they’re important films I think in how they represent what we’re fighting against or trying to escape, and how we go about it. And as an absolute departure from your post, I keep thinking about that scene from “Fast Times” where Judd Nelson is in the bathroom wanking to that Cars song “In Stereo.” That’s a moment of absolute perfection I want to maintain in my mind and apply to my life for very esoteric reasons. Thanks for letting me crayon the stall here in your loo.

  6. The Cutter says:

    It’s been pointed out by others that Ferris’ absence was excused by his parents, so Rooney really had no business investigating, and certainly no business trespassing in the family’s house.

  7. Maybe all of Rooney’s friends and family were killed in a truancy-related tragedy when he was Bueller’s age, and he was trying to prevent history from repeating itself. There’s no way of knowing his motivation. Perhaps we need a ‘Rooney: Origins’ film that really digs deep into his psyche….

  8. gavinkeenan says:

    Keep up the good work. This future politician or hedge-fund manager need to be cut off at the knees-Now!

  9. Can you believe they had a smoking lounge back then? We had one too. There’s a term for that: The good old days.

    This is like when you read Catcher in the Rye when you’re young and sympathize with the tormented Holden and his struggle against “phonies” only to re-read it as an adult and see him as a whiny snot who came from privilege and every advantage known to man. A rude awakening, it is.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      The universe unfolding as it should.
      About our mudroom, it was a beauty. The school was built on a swamp, and the road they wanted to put in to the main entrance couldn’t support the busses, so the front became the back — the mudroom. It was a wide-open lobby, and the kids painted the walls in all kinds of groovy murals. Strangely, I can only remember one: a replica of that stylized Bette Midler album from 1973 or so. Classy.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      And Dark Side of the Moon, of course. It’s all coming back to me.

  10. R. Todd says:

    The parade thing has always bothered me, but everyone I tell just dismisses it because Ferris has to have some big commotion around him because he’s, well, Ferris.

  11. Elyse says:

    God, Ross. I didn’t know my brother had gone back to high school …

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