I loved the movie Grease when I first saw it. At the time, I was still too young (inexperienced / uninformed / naïve) to understand a lot of the innuendo, but the music and dancing were super fun, and I liked the costumes, and the main characters ended up together in the end. All elements of a good movie for a much-younger me. (Okay, all elements of a good escapist movie for me now, too.)
Years later, as an adult, I saw a high school stage production of the show, and I was horrified by it. The production was excellent, but the story horrified me. I was especially struck by how, at the end, Sandy changed her image so dramatically to capture Danny’s attention and win him over. (Danny probably did some changing, too, but I was most horrified by Sandy’s exterior makeover.) Why, I wondered, would we promote such a message—saying that, in order to be liked, accepted, “cool”, we have to fit a particular kind of sexy image? It was especially upsetting to see that message expressed live on stage by high school students.
Sometime after that later viewing of Grease, I became a parent and have since been raising children in an environment that I hope will be empowering for them, in which they’ll be less burdened than previous generations by gross and inequitable societal expectations. I wonder what they’d think of Grease.
Incidentally, though, I wasn’t intending to write about how awful Grease is. Nor about how I’m discouraged by our subtle (or not-so-subtle) reinforcement of patriarchal and sexist messaging, but also how I’m grateful to be part of a religious community in which we wrestle with such things … examine our own experiences … interrogate our perceptions.
Rather, these musings are brought to you by an earworm.
I’m anticipating the start of a 6-week summer break (July 11 – August 24), and the opening lines of the Grease song “Summer Nights” have been on repeat in my head: “Summer lovin’ had me a blast / Summer lovin’ happened so fast.”
I am looking forward to these weeks in which I’ll be free of the daily responsibilities of UUCC work. My body and mind and spirit need some restorative time as we anticipate reinvigorated congregational activities in the fall—a return to in-person worship (if the public health metrics continue to indicate low-enough risk), an October ordination ceremony, an in-person auction in November, and more.
So, what will summer lovin’ look like for me? There will be a short visit to see my mother and Graham’s parents in Georgia. I intend to dip my toes in the salty ocean at some point. I anticipate naps and novels and quiet time while younger Gettys are at camp. I will eat lots of cucumbers and tomatoes from our own little vegetable bed.
And at the end of August, I’ll return to my place among you, refueled and ready to continue the work of building beloved community, of resisting the forces of patriarchy and sexism, of examining and interrogating our own experiences and perceptions, and of spreading hope and love and courage wherever we are.
May you, too, enjoy some summer lovin’ … filled with whatever your mind, body, and soul most need.