Saturday, August 30, 2014
Born to Hand Jive, Baby
Grease is one of my favorite movies. The others are Billy Elliot, The Black Stallion, and A Room With A View, the BBC's version of The Importance of Being Earnest, and Ocean Planet. From which you can learn I enjoy early rock 'n roll, dancing, horses, Italy, wit, and dolphins. That sums me up, pretty much. Plus re-runs of Julia Child on PBS.
John Travolta smoothed onto the screen and even though many years have passed since Grease's release in 1978 I drew in a breath: he's just as snake-hipped, black-haired and blue-eyed as the day is long.
Forget Julian Sands playing George Emerson! Can George Emerson dance? No. He communicates by shouting "Truth! Beauty!" from trees. Travolta swivels. He commits even to the wacky Muppet arms in the "Greased Lightning" number.
My son, 9, was watching with me. "Mom," he said, "what's a pussy wagon?"
I recognized that here was a Teaching Moment. Grease had brought bubbling to the surface Big Questions in the nine year old mind and if I didn't step up soon and talk to him about the birds and the bees he was going to learn about sex from Olivia Newton-John.
But I lost my nerve. I said, "You misheard, honey. It's 'wussy wagon', meaning if they guys don't help him, Greased Lightning is going to be lame."