I was shocked to learn recently that The Outsiders is STILL being taught in middle school classrooms. With the intense boom of YA literature over the last decade, I would have thought that S.E. Hinton’s classic tale of greasers and soc’s had since been edged out by John Green or Stephen Chbosky- but no. Apparently Ponyboy lives on. Part of what made reading The Outsiders so great back in middle school was the inevitable arrival of the clunky TV cart hauled in on a rainy day, long after we’d finished our discussion of what the heck Robert Frost meant with that poem. The lights would dim, as 25 seventh graders focused their attention on Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic film adaptation of the novel. Even now, the opening notes of the theme song conjure up sensory memories of dry air, mildewed backpacks, and the smell of sharpened pencils. Ah youth.
The Outsiders (DVD/Download) is actually a fairly accurate adaptation of the book. We still get the same retro S.E. Hinton dialogue, the same wacky character names, and the same great lines like “Do it for Johnny!” and “Stay Gold, Ponyboy”. The casting is pretty perfect, featuring a who’s who of 80’s stars like C Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise (pre-dental work), Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, Leif Garrett, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio, and the late great Patrick Swayze (rocking his signature too tight black t-shirt). Let me say, as a 14 year old girl watching this for the first time, I finally understood where all the cute boys were. Certainly, not at my school.
How fortunate we all are that Hinton gave her characters such unusual names. Cherry, Sodapop- I can do a lot with those beverage-wise. If you’re watching this with an actual middle schooler, you can just serve up an ice cold Cherry Coke. But if you’re of legal drinking age, desperate to enhance your teenage memories, I recommend drinking a Spiked Cherry Soda.
Spiked Cherry Soda
1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice
1.5 oz white rum
8 oz Cherry Coca-Cola
1 maraschino cherry
Build drink over ice in a tumbler. Top with maraschino cherries. Bonus points for a gold rimmed glass!
After enough cocktails, you may find yourself giggling hysterically at Matt Damon’s big crescendo, “DO IT FOR JOHNNY!” Or maybe weeping when Ponyboy leaves his copy of Gone With the Wind for a bandaged and burnt Ralph Macchio. Robert Frost says nothing gold can stay, but the fact that we’re still reading this book and enjoying the movie so many years later is proof otherwise. Cheers!