Some people say high school was the best time of their lives. Some say it was the worst. For me it wasn’t as good as college, but still good. Like maybe 3½ stars. Grease is one of those movies that takes place in high school with actors who are obviously too old to be there. It’s still a classic, however, making it quite easy for viewers to suspend their unbelief and enjoy the story, the characters, the music, the humour.
Thinking about that movie makes me a bit nostalgic, so I’d like to share with you—the reader who miraculously has read beyond the title—some highlights from my own time spent in grades 10-12. For some of you these might make you say, “I wish my time in high school was that good.” But chances are you will be amoung the majority who say, “Yeesh Troy. You were as much a loser then as you are now!” To which I proudly respond with Gaston’s confident reply, “I know! It’s true Lefou.” Let’s start with one of the highest of highlights:
I met the man in person. Ok, you may not believe me, but this is the honest truth. I met and shook hands with Macho Man Randy Savage. Sorry, should have told you to sit down first. Anyway, I also got his autograph on a pin up poster I tore out of one of my many wrestling magazines. What I wouldn’t give to have that autographed photo today. I remember the folks at the Moncton Coliseum who were hosting the car show had no idea just how many people were going to show up for this. My sister and I both went. We were lucky to get our autographs because since the crowd was so big they ended up speeding the last half of the people through with handshakes only. But it gets better. We also met Miss Elizabeth! And that’s another autographed pic I wish I still had. This was my biggest celebrity crush since Daphne from Scooby Doo. To make things even better, this happened just a month after Wrestlemania IV when Savage won the heavyweight championship. These two legends are both no longer with us today, which makes this memory mean even more to me.
Disney World twice in one year. My sister (not the same one as above) and I went on a group choir trip to Orlando where we went to Disney World. We had a blast, of course, but my siblings and I had no idea that for years our parents were saving to take us on a family vacation there. And it happened–nine months after we bot back from our choir tour trip! Now as much as that first trip was wonderful it was the trip with the family that I remember more. I remember standing outside a gift shop in Disney World and seeing for the first time a poster for their studio’s follow up to The Little Mermaid. It was Beauty and the Beast. We also went to Sea World on that trip, which I believe was the whole family’s favourite place.
High School Play. I’d wanted to be in a school play since elementary school but it took me until my graduation year to pull the trigger. I tried out for “Ten Little Indians” at Riverview High’s theatre during the lunch break. I was nervous but confident. I was sure I nailed the audition, and sure enough, when the list went up on the wall of the students who made the cut, my name was at the top of the list! My heart lept. Was I ready to memorize all those lines? But, it turned out that I had the smallest part in the play with just a few lines. Still, I was excited. Getting to know everyone in that group was such a memorable experience. They were all so good and we had that sense of accomplishment as one, just like a sports team does who wins a tournament. And though my part was undoubtedly smaller than everyone else’s, they all treated me as equally valuable. One of them was a close friend of my sister’s and he died five short years after our play. His name was Kevin and he’s greatly missed.
Speech. I also thought about entering a talent competition. I had friends at my church youth group who would enter one called TnT. They competed with singing or instrument playing and would earn college scholarships. I was jealous and thought they should have a category for speech. It was one of the things I loved doing that everyone around me seemed to hate. It was in my first year in high school I found out you could enter a speech category submission, but hardly anyone in our area did. Finally, by my graduation year I decided to enter. Yup, two years later. My self-confidence wasn’t great to say the least. Asking girls out was the same kind of thing for me. I was like a swimmer who perches on the edge of the high diving board and says to himself, “Ok, on the count of 500 I’m diving. 1, 2, 3,…” I kicked myself for not entering sooner. I was able to earn a scholarship more than once with speeches that I’m not sure were all that great. But I was bringing something to this competition that few of the judges had seen before. I was making pop culture references and imitating guys like Jack Nicholson and Jimmy Stewart. It was a good shot in the arm, but it would take even longer in my life to boost that self-confidence up to a healthy level. I know I’m not alone. Some of you reading this are shaking your heads because you know what it’s like.
Wrestlemania. I should state right away that, no, I did not attend a live Wrestlemania. However, in 1990 the Moncton Coliseum, who by now had figured out just how popular professional wrestling was (their minds made the shift from Leo Burke in Berwick to Hulk Hogan in MSG), were showing Wrestlemania 6 live on the big screen. Our paper boy, who was a couple of years younger than me, found out one day that I was a wrestling fan. We would have long talks about it on my front step or on our way home from school, and one day after delivering our paper he asked if I wanted to go with him. We both felt like we had enough cash to buy tickets. We bought them, got ourselves a taxi cab, and watched Hulk Hogan drop the belt to the Ultimate Warrior. I was furious. He was delighted. But it was a fun memory that I’ll never forget.
Congratulations Grease. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Please. Olivia Newton John. I knew her name when I was just six for crying out loud.
Best Actor: As much as I’d like to give this to Vinny Vega, I’d like to acknowledge the late Christopher Reeve for best actor this week. Honestly, I don’t find Superman a very good movie (though Superman 2 rocks!), but Reeve was more than memorable as the Man of Steel and Clark Kent . I have a hard time picturing anyone else in that role, regardless of how well they do in newer movies.
Best Quote: “Always look on the bright side of life.” – Crucifers in Life of Brian
Well, that was quite the self-absorbed escapade, though it’s not the first time I’ve done this. Thanks for indulging me, those of you who have read this far. And remember, it’s always a good idea to put memories down on paper. The good and the bad alike.