This weekend I didn’t attend my 20th reunion but I did go to a lovely party hosted by a fellow classmate. If you read my blog regularly you know that before the event I was full of healthy anxiety. I didn’t need to worry. Twenty years seems to mellow out people and the cliques in which they were involved. It was interesting to find out what everyone has been doing in their lives. There were a lot of people who had gone into teaching, and many involved in politics and production work. A modern twist on an old ritual, everyone passed around their cell phones with pictures of their children on the screen. This made me smile.
The counterpoint to this experience was High School Musical 3. Yes, I was one of those families helping the Disney empire rake in billions this weekend. The movie is everything you’ve come to expect from the franchise. My two boys love the hip hop scenes and there were too few of those. Instead they had to deal with quite a bit of romance and even a … kiss. (GROSS!) This was actually the funniest part of the movie. Troy and Gabriella finally kiss, it is all serious and in the packed theatre we hear a single kid, "Ewwwww" which started a chorus of "Ewwww…" and then all of the parents laughed hysterically because we each thought that it would be our kid to start the chorus.
After the flick, I went into Disney repair mode. I’m a sucker for a sappy Disney flick but I can see the misogyny coming a mile away and always feel required to point it out to the kids. I’d like to have boys who are respectful to whoever it is they choose to like and know that not all girls feel that they’ve "waited their whole lives for prom." That said, coupled with my reunion and my walk down memory lane I think that when I was 15 and 16, I really wanted the East High experience however ridiculous and romantic and absolutely unattainable that is. Maybe these movies and teen mags are so successful because as mature and educated and wordly as they may be, so many teen girls have these expectations. As a writer for children, I think we have to challenge this assumption but I do wonder.
I think the biggest discoveries at a reunion is within one’s self. I often remember my high school experience as one of being unwanted. I certainly had my share of unrequited love. I identified myself as having only one or two good friends. Looking back, it is sort of silly actually. I was very involved I was on the crew team, in plays, ran for senior class president…but still I always felt on the outside looking in. Perhaps this is the angst of high school no matter who you are and how involved you choose to be. Perhaps with the expectations I had, nothing would have been good. Perhaps I just need some therapy.