While most people in America have been counting down to the Presidential election, in our house, the excitement has been building towards a different event: the release of High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Forget about Barack, John, Sarah and Joe. All my kids care about are Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay and Chad. Presidential politics may be fascinating, but hey, who wants fascinating when you can have fabulous?
I’ll admit, however, that my kids are not the only fans of the HSM franchise. As far as Disney movies go, they’re definitely my favorite. I’m so animated-princess-weary at this point that real, live teenagers are downright refreshing, even if they are absurdly well-mannered, undersexed, and well, nothing like real, live teenagers at all. But still, the songs are catchy. And after months of listening to the new HSM songs being totally overplayed on Radio Disney, I was anxious to watch the movie, if only to see whether the prom scene lives up to the title of the prom song, Night of Nights. Because with a title like that, I’m thinking a little somin’ somin’ is gonna’ go down in the motel room at the prom after party…oh, but wait, these are well-mannered, undersexed, Disney teens, so maybe not.
Okay, so, we went to see it over the weekend, and I’m not gonna’ lie, I loved it. It disturbed me that I found myself attracted to Zac Efron more than once, but aside from that (and – spoiler alert! – aside from the fact that there wasn’t a prom scene), I thought it was really well done. Although, I have to say, it was kind of like being at a Disney version of a Beatles concert. There were all of these twelve year-old girls there, and they all screamed every time Troy had a close up. One girl even yelled “I love you, Troy,” every time he so much as glanced at the camera. And, I also have to say, as someone watching with a group of six year-olds, I’m really grateful for the undersexed aspect of the characters, because the fits of giggles that ensued from the first grade crowd when Troy and Gabriella had their one kiss was almost more than I could handle But I digress.
When the movie was over, and I was in the bathroom waiting for my daughter, I heard about a dozen moms say that watching HSM 3 made them want to go back to high school. And then the next day my friend e-mailed me, and said that watching it made her want to go back to high school, too. And so I started thinking: what is that about? Because I know that nobody really wants to go back to high school. Maybe they want to go to East High, which, may I remind you, is filled with well-mannered, undersexed, incredibly talented, fictional teenagers, and where detention is fun and homework is nonexistent, but then again, I think we’d all like to move to Candyland, too, where everything is made out of chocolate and gum drops, and nobody ever, ever, gets sad. But real high school? I don’t think so.
Of course, as a busy, working mom with hardly any time to breathe, I get why people would say it. Looking back, it’s hard not to wish that I’d taken more advantage of those fun, carefree, youthful days, when I had nothing better to do but hang out in the parking lot of McDonald’s, listen to music, and write in my diary. And sure, we all have regrets – we wish we’d had the nerve to try out for the school musical, we wish we’d asked out the cute guy we always had a crush on, we wish we’d tried a little harder to understand algebra so that we can help our kids with their math homework. But isn’t that all it is? I mean, let’s not forget about what real high school is like: fighting with your parents, negotiating frenemies, dealing with boyfriend drama, writing reports, suffering through physics tests, stressing about college…ugh. Does anyone really want to relive four years of that for a cute guy who we would have broken up with anyway, or for a part in the chorus of Damn Yankees? Please. I would rather juggle two jobs and six kids than spend one minute back in senior year.
So if you’ve seen HSM 3, or if you’re planning on seeing it (or if you’re seeing it a second, or third, or fourth time, as many of us surely will) don’t let yourself get sucked into the nostalgia for a high school experience that never was, and never will be. But if you really can’t help it and you just need that high school fix, you could always do what a friend of mine did a few years ago, for her thirtieth birthday: she threw an ‘80s prom. And believe me, it was way more fun than my actual prom, and the alcohol was better, too.