There was nothing on TV last night. Or, rather, nothing I wanted to see. I was tired, bored, and otherwise in need of something mindnumbing. I found it in Grease: You’re The One That I Want.
Let me just admit now that I love Grease, the movie. It brings back fond memories for me. I was all of 11 years old and hopelessly devoted to a boy in my 6th grade class who didn’t know I was alive. When the chance came to go out with a group of boys and girls to see the movie one weekend, I took it. Then I went through typical pre-teen wrangling, pleading and promises with all of the other girls to ensure I’d sit next to HIM during the movie. Can’t say I saw much of it, though: I was too busy wondering about the Deeper Meaning of his offer to share his popcorn and the Real Significance behind the way his elbow briefly touched mine on the arm rest.
Luckily, my older sister took me to see it again the following week. As a fan of musicals, I was hooked. As a blah girl raised by a strict religious mother who’d carefully cultivated my (then) naivete, I yearned to break free like Sandy, to squeeze into sexy siren spandex, fluff my hair out, and walk all over boys’ hearts with six inch-high candy red stilettos. (Come to think of it, that’s pretty much how I wound up looking throughout the late 80s, but that’s another story.)
I rarely miss a chance to catch Grease when it’s on TV and, thanks to TBS and the USA Network, that’s at least twice a month. Yes, I know all the lyrics. I know most of the lines, too. But, no, it’s not grown stale. Every time I watch that movie I feel like an 11-year-old girl again, the one who breathlessly hoped HIS fingers would reach out for mine instead of the popcorn, a girl who believed that all True Love required was a little bit of time, the right makeup and clothes, and a soundtrack easy to dance to.
In November, I went with my husband and kids to attend my in-laws 50th Wedding Anniversary. These two people, both well into their 60s, stood in the same church they were married in, before the same minister who’d married them, and in the pews were many of the same people who’d been at their first ceremony, right down to the maid of honor.
After their vow renewal, my in-laws took our very large extended family to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater to celebrate. My husband and his sisters sat with their parents at one table, just as they had many times throughout their childhood, only this time they were there to celebrate their parents’ lifetime of love. And what was playing? Why, Grease – The Musical! And who played Sandy? None other than Laura Osnes, who’s currently a contestant on NBC’s show. Her child prodigy-turned-Broadway hopeful style of singing big-voiced and bright-eyed, arms perennially thrown out as if she’d embrace the entire audience if she could, struck the perfect note of young, innocent love.
But, and this was not Laura’s fault, this time I didn’t get those giddy feelings that I’d experienced watching Grease over the past 29 years. Instead, watching my mother- and father-in-law holding hands over the table after 50 years of marriage, I saw what it truly means to know to be with someone who feels, to the depth of their being, that “You’re the One That I Want.” And glancing at my own husband, along with these two wonderful people who set such a great example of love for him (and for myself, too) I knew without doubt that, indeed, “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing.”