I consider myself a Grease expert. Not Grease 2 because it doesn’t even compare to Grease, the original, in any way, shape or form. But from the first time viewing Grease with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, probably in fifth or sixth grade, I was hooked. I memorized the entire film. Sheer performance art and onscreen magic. My best friend, Dena O’Hara and I easily watched this film 500 times–maybe more–we lost track around 130. Why I remember this number is disturbing in itself. The nine seniors on my high school soccer team dressed as the Pink Ladies, a costume about as cliche as they come. We loved our pink ladies. We loved our costumes; we loved our lines we repeated over and over to the utter dismay of our brothers and male peers; we loved our songs– all of them for different reasons.
Perhaps we loved the Pink Ladies so much because they were our polar opposites. We, like Sandra Dee, also “didn’t drink, or swear, or rat my hair.” We would have gotten ill from one cigarette for sure. We didn’t get PG (pregnant) in high school like Rizzo thought after the broken condom incident, but we certainly knew girls who did, and we were afraid for them. We did not race cars at Thunder Road, nor did we date boys who raced cars at Thunder Road. To my knowledge, Merrimack, NH did not have a Thunder Road. We had sleepovers with friends, where we wore sensible shorts, or sweatpants and tee shirts; we piled into pick up trucks and went to the drive in movies; we played pond hockey with our boyfriends and sledded behind snowmobiles; we went to football games and basketball games completely sober actually, unlike our Pink Lady Predecessors. But we did wonder, like Frenchy, what we would be when we grew up and moved away. Having a guardian angel could have been very helpful at times. We did not break into song at the local King Kone or during class, except when we were learning all of the Beatles tunes in Spanish 5 in Senor Zioze’s class.
So last night, I was caught off guard when watching Grease LIVE on television with Geoff (who hated it as much as my brother did because his sister Allison also regaled Grease as a permanent fixture in adolescence), my parents, my brother, who was in town visiting with his wife, Holly, and two nieces ages 4 and 7 respectively, and our own kids now 4 and 6. Mind you, there was also an extensive group text happening simultaneously with about eight college girlfriends equally as excited as I was that this was happening. Our kids were captivated for sure by the music and dancing and costumes and old cars. Other than really missing John Travolta in the role of Danny Zuko, I was charmed by this LIVE experience. The Sound of Music was terrible LIVE (my other favorite musical) so I did not have high expectations for this. But I found myself repeating the lines word for word; they kept the script almost exact, which I appreciated. I sang along with Julianne Huff, the Pink Ladies, the T-Birds, and I answered questions– a lot of questions mostly from my 7 year old niece Ella. Ella is awesome. She is smart and sensitive and a really remarkable young lady, who is so good to her little sister and cousins.
Yet, as we watched, I totally embellished my responses to her trying to find some kind of worthy moral lesson from an otherwise superficial plot and one dimensional characters. Were they really this shallow in my youth? Why did we love them all so much? For example, I didn’t want any of her takeaways to be: we have to change ourselves completely in order to make someone else like us. This is not a good lesson to learn from a show we were actually watching from my youth AS A FAMILY. Fortunately, it was a school night, and they only got to watch the first hour; they also missed out on some colorful language, an over the shoulder move at the drive in, and more references to teen pregnancy among other things. But I loved sharing the moment with them, all of us on my parents’ couch, watching something I loved as a kid. Now, Geoff watching an episode of “Grizzly Adams” with Carver and Greta recently to honor Dan Haggerty is another story all together.