Flipping through the channels with MJ last night, we came across one of my all-time favorite movies, Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Don’t judge me. I know it’s no Casablanca. But it is one of those movies that helps define a generation and perhaps only those of us born in the 70s truly get it. Kind of like only kids of the 60s get the film, American Graffiti. What was that movie about?
Anyway, I remember when Grease came out and being only eight, I was not permitted to see it. But when I was ten, my good friend Sara had some sort of movie theater that her parents had set up in her basement and her dad somehow got her a copy of Grease. Hmmm … can’t recall now how that could be since this was pre-VCR tapes. Regardless, she had it and I was going to see it. Don’t tell my parents, because I was still forbidden from seeing the movie, which of course made it all that more intriguing. So at a carefully constructed sleepover (yea, Mom, we’re just gonna hang out and watch Benji or something) I watched Sandy and Danny get together, break up, get together again, break up again, and even after Sandy tries her hand at dating the star football player (played by a young Lorenzo Lamas) they finally realize they are the ones that they want, all while singing and dancing in a plethora of petticoats and leather. Magnificent. I was hopelessly devoted to Sandy and Danny.
Perhaps being only ten I didn’t get all the dirty parts- like when Rizzo jumps in the convertible with Kinickie and the T-birds and tells them to beat it, asking, “What is this, a gang bang?” Thankfully, completely over my head. Which is why, coming across the movie as a mom watching with a ten-year-old of my own, I see the movie with a completely different set of eyes. Never mind the barrage of questions that would arise-
Mom, what’s a gang bang?
Mom, what’s a hickey?
Mom, why did Rizzo still have sex in the back of the car with Kinickie even though his condom broke and they’re not married and what is a condom anyway and how did it break?
And have you ever really listened to the lyrics in “Greased Lightning”? Oh my … and I saw this movie when I was ten. My poor mother.
So even if you watch Grease on TV with all the bad words edited out, the message it sends is just about the worst we can give to our tween-age daughters and sons, and for the first time I really saw it. Okay so here’s this teen-aged girl and she dresses nice and gets good grades and doesn’t drink or smoke or even rat her hair, the perfect daughter right? But she meets the bad boy and doesn’t fit in with his crowd and that makes her sad, so she asks her friend Frenchie, the beauty school drop out, to slut her up. And, TaDa! she gets her man. No wonder why us Gen-Xers are so messed up.
I started wondering what happened to Danny and Sandy once their happily ever after really began. She probably got knocked up, they had a shotgun wedding and one day years later while cooking dinner for Danny, who would be home from working at the auto shop any minute, there’s a knock on the door. She sighs, brushes her haphazardly pinned-up hair out of her eyes, steps over the minefield of Matchbox cars scattered through the hall that her three uncontrollable boys left in their wake, to answer the door of their two bedroom, rent-controlled apartment. And standing there at her doorstep is a vision to behold—it’s (gulp!) Lorenzo Lamas. He’s tall, dark, and handsome, having outgrown that last bit of baby fat he seemed to carry in high school. He tells her, “Come with me. I’ll take you away from all this … to California. My grandmother owns a vineyard there and it will be our playground. It’s called Falcon Crest.” Sandy swoons, “Yes,” she says, “It should have been you all along.” And they ride off in his Bentley into the California sunset.
Meanwhile, back on the couch with MJ, I say, “Let’s save this movie for another time and see who’s getting kicked off American Idol instead.” Hmmm … interesting, it was a guy named Danny.