Monday, November 7, 2011

Frankie Avalon "Beauty School Dropout"

When I was middle school age, late 70s/early 80s, was there a bigger phenomenon that the movie "Grease" and its attendant Soundtrack?

I can remember being really into it, along with probably most every other 5th and 6th grader in my life.

But were we really aware how age-inappropriate it all was? The pregnancy/abortion issue, the sleazy TV show host hitting on the young girl, the drag racing, smoking, slutty leather pants outfit, the Italian swear word in "Sandra Dee," etc, etc?

No, we were not aware that this movie was not made for our age group.

At least I wasn't. Until the day our music teacher was sick.

I can't exactly remember why she was out, but it must have been something fairly sudden, because there was not a substitute teacher. Instead, one of the school administrators was the Sub for our music class that day.

I'm sure he thought he was doing a nice, "cool" thing, when, for lack of anything else to kill 45 minutes of class time, he acquiesced to the students insistent requests, to let us sit quietly, and play the "Grease" Soundtrack on the classroom record player.

Did I know the lyrics to "Beauty School Dropout"? Probably. Well, phonetically anyway. I'm sure I could sing along, but did I know what I was singing about?

I remember our sinking Sub's face getting a little redder and a little redder, as this song progressed.

But it was when Frankie Avalon really sticks the line "unless she was a hooker!" that his eyes just totally bugged out of his head.

Like a ballet dancer whose pants have just fallen off*, you could see him frozen, struggling to make a choice: Freak out and stop everything cold, making a scene? Or just keep going, as if nothing is wrong, and don't draw attention to it.

Maybe it was inertia or maybe it was his nature as an administrator, but he chose the latter, and did nothing except glower a little.

For many years, the thought of it made me laugh.

But now, I'm on the other side of the equation. I'm a Dad, with kids who are going to listen to things that will horrify me.

Am I really going to be the Dad that doesn't let his kid listen to the Soundtrack of a 40 year old beloved American Institution/Musical?

Or worse, am I really going to be the Dad that listens to the "Grease" Soundtrack with his daughter, and then "raps" about the issues it raises of female objectification, peer pressure, chastity and the importance of completing high school?

Can't I just go back to Middle School?

See the movie scene on Youtube.

* I know, I know, ballet dancers don't wear pants. But that's the line that popped into my head, and it made me laugh, so I kept it.

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